I’m not great at looking after anything apart from shoes. Suits I brush down occasionally, but certainly not after every use, and knitwear rarely gets much of a look-in.

In an effort to change this I recently picked up a few of the garment care items Kirby now stocks on The Hanger Project. Having talked to him at length about The Laundress, I was interested in trying their products, and I know Smedley sells the same detergent for its knitwear.

Knitwear-specific detergent, however, is probably a step too far to me, given I don’t wash it often enough with regular detergent. So I tried the sweater comb, sweater stone and stain bar, keen to have a way to better manage pilling and stains.

Pilling has always been a problem for me, partly due to cramped storage. It helps of course if you wash the sweater soon after buying it, to deal with loose and overlong hairs. (Hand wash and dry it on a rack – or delicate cycles are fine for wool or cashmere that is not extremely fine; just put it in a pillow case to avoid stretching.) But even with that treatment, pilling comes eventually.  

The surface of the sweater stone is not particularly rough, which means it is gentler on garments but also that it takes more work to remove the pilling. I found the sweater comb more satisfactory. It has sharp barbs down either side and works well if scraped down the body while wearing the garment (wear it back-to-front to scrape the back).

The guidance says the sweater stone is for heavier knits, while the comb is for finer gauges. I found the comb better for both, and the pile of fuzz pictured at the top of this piece is testament to its effectiveness. This was taken from a hand-knitted RL Purple Label jumper that has always pilled to extremes, as well as collecting any detritus that seemed to be hanging in the air. It was much improved for the treatment.

The stain bar was effective, and pretty reasonable at $6, but I think it falls into the same category as the detergents. The sweater comb, on the other hand, is a genuinely new tool and one I would certainly recommend.
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Thanks for the tips regarding pilling. Regarding detergents for knitwear, one tip I have learned from the knitting community is just to use a gentle shampoo and conditioner (just the type you would use on your own hair) – animal fibres are just hair after all! This is what I used to use and found it worked great, especially if you don’t need it that often since it is something that you tend to have hanging around anyway. Although now I have so many woollens that I use a special wool detergent (eucalan) with added lanolin that is no rinse, and I do slightly prefer it.


This is why I don’t like wearing knitwear .. nightmare to wash, degeneration of the fibre and a general pain in the ass .. heavy shirting, jackets and the key overcoats the way forward IMO.



just tried to buy the sweater comb that you recommended and it quoted $44 shipping to the UK!!?


K Allison

Hi Ed – the website quotes everything out as USPS Priority and lacks the intelligence to really differentiate between something we could ship first class in an envelope vs. what is required to go out in a box. If you place your order, pay for shipping, and then respond to the order confirmation, I can refund shipping back down to $10.00 and then ship this item First Class in a padded envelope. Sorry for the inconvenience! Cheers, Kirby from The Hanger Project.



This is totally off-topic but I just saw ‘The Great Beauty’, a wonderful Italian film that has received rave reviews everywhere.

Any fan of Italian menswear should see it as the main character wears fantastic clothes throughout. Funnily enough, with the exception of the pastel sports jackets, the high collars on all the shirts stand out more than anything else. I can’t remember the last time that contemporary high-end menswear featured so heavily in a film. I’d be very interested to hear what you think of it.


Me neither. But he’s 4 now so I can sneak out every now and again.

I do hope you manage to see it. The clothes are so good that it’s worth an individual blog post. More so considering that the southern Italian style is so relevant to a lot of your recent blog posts (high-collared shirts, unstructured sports jackets, summer combinations). There will rarely be a better time for your readers to see such great contemporary clothing in a film. Most menswear in the cinema or on TV is either naff Hollywood and/or set in different eras (Great Gatsby, Mad Men, etc.). This is the real deal.


I know this is a very old post, but I found some of the movie’s suits on Ebay, apparently all the tailoring was made by Cantarelli. Hope that helps.


Sorry, I know nothing more than what I saw onscreen. I also just did a quick google search and nothing obvious came up. This certainly didn’t do it justice:


I’m surprised that the usual suspects haven’t picked up on this. Looks like you should be the one to break it out on Permanent Style!


thanks Kirby



I used to have both tools and then put them in the rubbish once I got a Sweater Shaver. Extremely easy to use and the Knitwear looks brand new after the pilling is removed. I have also used this tool on silk & knit ties and wool coats that fuzz or pill and again the result is the same, they look brand new.
Best Regards,


I use a normal razor. Works great.

Dan McVane

Question. I have two RL (POLO) wool ties. One is navy grenadine and the other brown plane wool. Both ties have a light spot near the knot (thinking it is from friction). What is the best method to remove these light areas on the ties.



wish i could post a photo in the comments – I have a thick shearling coat, silk lined. The pilling is bad and i can’t find a solution…any suggestions for removing pilling from shearling?


Do you still recommend the sweater comb, stone, and stain bar for pilling Simon? What’s the most simplistic way to take care of pilling? I’m not sure if I want so many accessories.

I also had a question about which shampoo for hair you recommend or use without any harsh chemicals like sulphate. You might’ve missed answering in the comments. Any recommendations?