Thursday, February 2, 2012

'All about cashmere' interviews with Chantal Roy - part two

This second part of the interview series with Chantal Roy is all about pilling

How does pilling occur?

Pills are after all nothing but the shorter fibers in threads that come to the fabric's surface, it happens when the item gets worn (see previous interview for more detailed explanations)

Can pilling be prevented?
Not in my view, at least not if you make a normal use of your item. Of course you can limit the pilling damages by avoiding excess rubbing, but as said before, cashmere is not a rope, but a fine fiber, and therefor less resistant than wool. If silk gets mixed in (as is the case with the GMs) it becomes more resistant, as silk is a resistant fiber generally.

Which is the best way to treat piling?
In my view, with a velvet clothes brush. They can easily be found at haberdashers, at the laundry or clothing care sections of drug stores or grocery stores, or in men's department stores.

How to use: brush over your cashmere shawl in one direction (some brushes indicate with arrows in which direction they should be used), and the pilling and fuzz of the shawl is gathered onto the surface of your brush. Sometimes a light brushing is all that is needed, at other times brush more energetically. Finding the right stroke is something you learn with practice, patience and experience. To clean the brush, simply brush backwards on any surface or on your hand, and you can easily lift off all the pill and fluff which has gathered. There is no risk of pulling threads with this method, as the velvet hair of the brush is so soft. To those who do not feel experienced or confident enough to try this method for themselves, I offer a brushing service at Rammendo Invisibile.

What to you think of the little razor machines:
I prefer a velvet clothes brush to the razor machines as using the razor very near to the weave can easily lead to cut threads (it can happen without you even realizing it), resulting in the shortening of fibers. These shortened fibers can then lead to new pills once they have come to the surface (which happens when the item gets worn). A razor may also cut parts of fibers that were perhaps twisted together and would have held fine otherwise, or in the worst case scenario, if worked too near to the weaving of the shawl, the result can be holes. The little razor machines tend to do wonders in the beginning, but sometimes make things worse in the end, resulting in thinning, and new pills.

Thank you so much for sharing your advice and knowledge with us, dear Chantal.

As a result of this interview, I banished the little razor I had for years (but luckily never used it)

and went to test Chantal's brush method on one of my cashmere sweaters.

..and after. So happy and pleased with the result!

A while ago, I received another wonderful idea on the subject of pilling removal by Elizabeth, who kindly agreed for me to share it here with you:

I came upon this idea quite by accident and it works very well without any damage to the scarf. What you need is some very strong packing tape (make sure it does not leave glue residue) I use Scotch brand High Performance Packaging tape from the 3M company. Take your scarf, place it on a hard smooth surface and place the tape over the piled area. Press the tape down firmly (photo with the flash glare) and peel it off. The pils and fuzz will adhere to the tape and come off without damage to the scarf (photo of the used tape shows the piling adhering to it), the area will look like new. I hope the photos will give you an idea of the before and after.


Close up of 'before'

With the tape applied (shiny area that caught the flash)

pills and fluff caught on the tape

All fluff and pills gone!

Many thanks to Chantal and Elizabeth for sharing their advice, and yay to velvet brushes and tape!

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  1. Thanks again for providing this wonderful information - dashing off to search for our velvet brush, which somehow got lost during our renovation project. ;-) What also works are those "anti animal hair rollers" - although we don't use the ones from Tesa, as they have "teeth" on one end, but the ones from Scotch Brite are pretty good. They're probably not as strong as the Packing tape, but quick and easy to use for little fuzzes. xox, Macs

  2. I don't own cashmere as I cannot stand the feel of any type of wool, but do own some garments that pill I believe cotton). I wonder if the velvet brush will work as well on other fabrics?

  3. Very helpful information MaiTai. Thank you. I am going to follow your lead and banish my razor machine. I had no idea that it made cashmere more fragile with time. Many, many thanks to Chantal.

  4. Thank you! I'd already gotten rid of the razor machine (used once or twice only) as I'd heard they were bad for fabric, but did not know what to get as an alternative. I've heard of cashmere brushes, but have never seen one. The velvet lint brushes which I had anyway work beautifully! No need to buy anything new. I've already used it on a huge smoke blue cashmere shawl - more like a small blanket I wear around my neck. And I plan to attack (... groom) my sweaters very soon.

  5. Thank you MaiTai and Chantal, for very useful information.

    I second Macs, and popped into the local haberdasher for a lint brush. My (English)source of cashmere cardies recommends a little comb device, which is difficult to use and time consuming. Like the razor machine, the comb has now been replaced, in favor of the brush and tape.

    This has been a wonderful series. Many thanks.

  6. I have been using the velvet brush and the tape for years! In fact, my brush looks just like the one in your picture! I will certainly ban the machine from any sweater in the future! BTW, I am thankful that I have not had pilling on the cashmere/silk shawls and scarves so have never had to touch them.

  7. Dear MaiTai, Thanks so much for this very useful information. I've also just located my velvet lint brush, and am ready to put it into regular use. For many years I've gently used a sweater comb with success. I'd definitely not use the comb on a cashmere silk shawl, as it seems it would very likely cause pulls, but they have worked well for sweaters, with careful use. Did Chantal have any comments about the use of these? I now wonder if its use is shortening the lifespan of my sweaters.

  8. Like Nikiknows I have always used a little "comb" which is sold at some good laundries and exquisite shops to remove the little fuzzes. Nothing has happened so far but I wonder if I could show Chantal a photograph of one of those combs to know her oppinion. In the meantime I will buy a brush, definitely! Wishing you, my dear, a wonderful weekend. Warm cosy hugs from cold Scandinavia, M.

  9. Thanks MT and Ms. Roy for this informative post !
    It is nice to know that although I might not always get "my tie" right, I at least know how to banish the pills !! Now this deserves a toast :) happy weekend and sending warming hugs, T xx

  10. Vraiment tres pratique et tres interessant
    Merci j ai pu ravoir mon pull en cashemere

  11. Brilliant! Absolutely brilliant advice! Thank you so much for sharing these tips. I'm going to get myself a velvet brush now.

  12. Like some other ladies,I have a tiny cashmere comb which is recommended by Brora [ the best cashmere shop in UK] and which works brilliantly on knitwear .
    But the cashmere and silk shawls have a very different feel , and the texture/weave makes them look less amenable to combing .
    So I'm grateful for the velvet brush idea . That little device must be one of the cleverest things invented , it's great for removing animal hairs too!

  13. Since this thread is over a decade old, I would like to add that a device sold as The Gleaner, invented by a fabric conservator, is available on Amazon or through the maker. It is more like the sweater comb than the brush, and comes with various heads for different weights and composition of fabric (woven and knits.) It is sold world-wide. I do not represent this product, I am just a delighted user of this little device. Any tape depends on a sticky glue layer to pick up the pills, so even if you do not see it, you are depositing traces of that on the surface. The electric razor devices are hard on knits and will definitely damage fine woven fabrics. -Duchesse

    1. Many thanks for the tip. I just bought the Gleaner and am looking forward to trying it out!