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.