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Pilling Problems With Malabrigo Merino Worsted Yarn?

December 20, 2016


Let’s have a chat about yarn. And pilling.

I knit this lovely Brooklyn Tweed Bray Cap a year ago from Malabrigo’s Merino Worsted yarn, and while it continues to be my favourite hat, it’s started to pill considerably. Which is a bummer.

I loved how ‘crisp’ it looked when I first made it. Now with a fuzzy outer layer it feels a bit… bleh? I find it’s muted the beautiful lace/cable pattern.


I know you’re looking at these photos thinking, “…. Kate. Calm yourself! There are all of 3 and a half visible pills. You’re fine.” Yes, yes. Turns out it’s quite hard to capture in a photo, which is why I bring you this teensy video where you can see it a little better.

See what I mean? Kinda sort of?

Clearly not the end of the world, but worth noting.

When I started knitting I didn’t put much thought (okay any thought) into my yarn selection. “Hey this is soft and pretty and squishy I’LL TAKE IT!” Now that I’ve knit a few things I’m starting to see the relationship between twist, staple length, durability etc. I can see that different fibres and yarns might be better suited to different projects.

Duh Kate.

I’m learning OK?!


This isn’t me saying this yarn is bad, not at all, it’s just my observations from the two projects I’ve done with it.

Malabrigo’s Merino Worsted is a single ply yarn with not a lot of twist, which makes for a soft yarn but not a very durable one. Hence the pilling. That’s the trade off with squishy merino I suppose? I’m really not sure… Is all merino yarn like this or does it vary depending on how the brand processed it?

My Roku Hat is knit from the same yarn, which I overdyed, and it’s much less pilled. Now I haven’t worn it as much, but the yarn really does feel different. I think it’s because I mildly felted it during the overdying process (oops) which made it ‘tighter’ and more durable.

Another fun fact is that the Textured Circle Scarf I made from Malabrigo’s Mecha yarn two years ago has almost no pilling after lots of wear. It’s a single ply as well BUT it’s superwash. Which I believe means the scales on each wool fibre can’t felt and thus don’t do the fuzzy/pilling thing as easily? Thanks, chemicals.


I get this might all seem a tad obsessive, but it’s the sort of thing I’d like to see so I wanted to share on the chance it could help someone else out.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again—when I buy/make I’m in it for the long haul. I don’t care what it looks like new, I care what it looks in a year. Two years, five years, ten years! I care about longevity, so fibre choice matters.

Tell me, do you have any experience with pilling using this yarn? Any recommendations for those of us looking for soft yet durable hat yarn?

P.S. Happy winter fellow Northern Hemisphere friends!

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