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Dear Kay,

Over the years, you’ve sent me quite a bit of random stuff with no explanation. Vera dishtowels, hanks of yarn, toile pillows. I take it all with gratitude and sometimes mystification.

An item you sent a couple of years ago has turned out to be wildly useful:


The Lilly Save Our Sweaters Brush.

Rolling toward the conclusion of my six-sweater Washathon Washalong, this Lilly Brush is front and center.

Two of my washalong sweaters had pilled enough to leave me looking waifish and not the good kind of waifish: Heather the Almost Lost Sweater from 2002, and Laurel the Alpaca Pullover/Antarctic Survival Suit.


I haven’t done a comprehensive survey of de-pilling options. (Here’s Good Housekeeping‘s rundown if you’re into this.) (Why wouldn’t you be?)

It’s nothing more than a narrow bristle brush. It’s not electric, like those sweater shavers that scare the crap out of me and look like they’d burrow into my stockinette like a wood beetle. It’s not like those pumice sweater stones that leave gray crumblets in my sweater.

It’s just a brush, and when you swipe away at your matted sleeve, it looks better.

It doesn’t repair your terrible mattress stitch technique from 2002. And it’s not a magic wand. But sometimes a low-tech gizmo can be just the thing.

I leave you with the only creatures more interested in my freshly washed sweaters than I am.

Kermit drew close and breathed deeply, deeply.


And, of course, there was Elliott, king of the hill:




PS Thanks so much to everybody who took part in the Great Emily Ringelman Dry Out Event over the past two days. Emily writes that she’s got a six-month rebuilding project ahead of her down in Baton Rouge. Here’s a video of her house at the moment—where’d the bottom part go? Hundreds and hundreds of patterns were bought—she’s so grateful for the help. Take a peek and buy a pattern if you haven’t had a chance.


  • Is that your Carpino in the middle of the Glorious Pile of Washed Sweaters? It’s looking great. Is the high neckline a problem at all?

  • I have the Lilly and I love it. And it is easy to throw in a suitcase.

  • I would love to own a stack of me-made hand knitted sweaters! I am blessed by this blog and it encourages me to continue steadily ahead. Thanks for sharing even the small stuff!

  • I had what may have been the protoype for this sort of brush. It had a wooden handle and brass bristles. Actual brass. Like a giant version of the little brass brush you might use to clean copper fittings. Now I’m wondering what I did with that thing…it was just one of the mysterious items I found in my little shack when I bought it many years ago, and I kept a lot of that detritus out of a sense of responsibility to baffle the next generation of shack-dwellers.

  • I bought a Gleener after a sweater stone kept crumbling away.

  • Hmmm…I wonder how well the Lilly brush would work on something else that can get pills. Oh, Elliott….

  • Thanks for the reminder about Emily. I chose one of her cardigan sweater patterns.

  • I’m a huge fan of the Gleaner. It is so much fun that when I ran out of sweaters to de-pill I started on my wool blankets! Comes with 3 attachments for de-pilling to match the weight of the sweater yarn, plus a lint brush, all on a very ergonomic handle. You can de-pill for hours with no wrist pain. What joy!

  • Not that I’m knit picking (ha ha) or anything but I only see 5 sweaters in the photos. Dare I ask what happened to the 6th.

    • The life-changing magic of tidying up your sweaters.

      I think I got that brush because I saw it on Knitter’s Review with a rave. I wonder where mine has gotten to….

  • I, too, love the Lilly brush. I thought it just another gizmo until I used it. And I bought a couple of Emily’s patterns. Thank you both for being such a great communication link to a community of knitters.

  • I have the smaller Evercare Shaver and it works well. I would have thought a brush would only cause more of a pill problem, but I trust you two, so it must be a good thing. Easier and better for travel too. And no batteries required. Thumbs up!

    P.S. Will it work on pills of the human variety? 😉

  • hmm
    could elliott be thwarting and undermining any and all sweatertidying efforts ?

  • Elliott and Kermit obviously approve.

  • Have Elliott and Kermit ever toyed with your needles? I’m sure they are far too well behaved. So has anyone ever managed to smooth out a cable after a kitten attack? Why yes, I have a new kitten. Only 2 circs have been chewed. So far. The sock cuffs are fine, thanks.

    • I had a wonderful cat who chomped any circular needle he could find. He also chomped wooden straight needles. He never grew out of it, but I loved him nonetheless.

  • I love the Lilly brush… Anyone who’s not familiar with it should be aware that it works only on 100% animal fiber, it’s almost useless on pilly blends. I give these as gifts to all my sweater-wearing gal pals.

  • I love Elliott. His respect for that sweater is manifest. Great Ringleman patterns. I look forward to the Rehoboth.

  • Pilling is truly my bete noir. I feel so discouraged by it after favorite sweaters are coated by hideous fuzz balls.

    I read the Good Housekeeping article, and it turns out to my chagrin that the sweater shaver I already have and find mostly unsatisfactory is one of the top rated ( the small one). What hope is there? Hmmm. Should I try this Lily brush? I suppose I will give in and try it, as I love gadgets.

    The Modern Daily braintrust should put its collective minds to finding a truly workable solution. The world needs this!

    Next up, moths.

    • Already done. It’s called The Gleener. Awesome tool. Get one and you’ll be begging your friends and neighbors for stuff to depill.

      • I want to try the Gleener. I heard it was good also. But in the meantime, I wanted to report that my Lilly brush arrived from Amazon last night, and it actually works amazingly well!

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