Why does knitwear pill – four most common reasons!

Have you ever wondered why even the expensive knits begin to pill and look horrible sooner or later? Even the expensive brands save costs in materials because it is not so easy to see the quality before actually wearing the clothes for some time.

Pilling happens when the surface of knitwear becomes fluffy and loose fibres catch with each other forming the pill-balls.

Pilling is caused by four main reasons: coarsiness, shortness and curliness of the fibre …and loose knitting.

Why does knitwear pill? First reason: Coarse fibre

All the wool fibres have scales on their surface. The bigger the scales, the more easily the fibres will lock with each other. The fibres with bigger scales will also feel less comfortable on skin.

(We use only 100% alpaca wool in our garments and it is the smoothest surfaced fibres of all wool fibres. Thanks to this special fibre our knits feel very pleasant and are resistant to pilling)


The fibre of our Twilight knit

Why does knitwear pill? Third reason: Curly fibre

The fibres will also be entangled because of curly fibre. From curly fibre (for example lambswool) it is easy to create volumous chunky sweaters,but the downside is pilling.

(Alpaca wool is rather straight and slippery. Because of that it is very pill resistant but requires special knowledge in knitting and spinning the yarn.)

Alpaca fibre is smooth and straight

Why does knitwear pill? Fourth reason: Loose knitting

The more dense the knit the shorter is the fluffy surface of the knit. Short fibre ends cannot entangle to each other. Densely knitted poor quality fibre will be resistant to pilling but feel inferior against your skin. Feel is why knitwear of poor quality is often knitted loosely and the pilling will occur shortly after purchase.

If you are searching for long lasting knitwear you should choose knits that are knitted more densely.

The Alpa knits in use


Twilight, over 100 days of use. Dense 100% alpaca knit is as good as new. No pills – just some minor surface fluff.


Crew Neck, 150 days of use. Crew Neck is knitted a bit more loosely so it has softened significantly. Thanks to the alpaca fibre it is still looking very nice. Better than new.

We personally test use every of our knit model for several months. This is why we guarantee that every Alpa garment will age beautifully.

Check out our web shops alpa.fi in finnish or alpaknitwear.se in swedish:

Alpa – Finest alpaca knitwear