Several people mentioned a gadget called the Gleener on Angie's recent knitwear post. Having tried and failed with a battery operated shaver (made nicks and holes) and brushes (smoothed but failed to de-pill) and pumice stones (wore holes in some stuff) I decided it was worth an attempt.
Here's my review.
- Inexpensive (under $20)
- No batteries or electricity required.
- Comes with several heads for different types of garment.
- Easy to use.
- And...most important...seems to work ...
(cough cough) at least sometimes.
- Takes patience to use effectively.
- Doesn't really work on poor quality knits and that brings us right back to our basic problem -- we can't tell from the name or the reputation of the maker or even sometimes from the feel, what the quality is like.
I tried it on four of my sweaters. I used the same medium attachment for all.
First, on a new-this-year BR cardigan, supposedly merino, but more of a "shetland" type knit, to my mind. It has pilled under the arms and where my crossbody bag goes. It's hard to see the pills on the light grey. But the Gleener did take them off, with a bit of pressure. For the most part. ;)
Second, an older J. Crew Collection cashmere tee. I think I got this in 2012 or 2013. It is quite high quality and does not pill a whole lot -- mostly just under the arms. I was able to remove a lot of the pills on this one quite easily and it looked better after Gleening.
Note -- this sweater has also become softer/ nicer to wear with washing -- a characteristic I note in higher quality cashmere but not necessarily in the cheaper stuff. That's one reason I've kept it so long.
Third, my most frustrating sweater ever. You wouldn't have believed how lovely and soft and also interesting (because of the knit's texture) it looked at first. Gorgeous. But....it pilled in the first MINUTE of wearing and is basically nothing but pills. And why does this frustrate me so much? Because it happens to be a hugely useful item for me and I can't get rid of it! (Normally it is active/ loungewear for me now, but I wore it on my recent Spain trip, for instance, even though it is a mess, because it is just that versatile, lightweight, and warm.) Anyway. I don't think you can see much difference between the befores and afters here and Gleening, while it collected a lot of fuzz and pills, made no appreciable difference to the look of the thing. Not worth the effort and bother.
Fourth, my older Pure Amici cardigan. It is well loved and much worn. It's very soft cashmere and has pilled a fair bit over the years. The Gleener worked quite well on this one, too.
I'm not sure what to deduce from all of this. The J. Crew Collection and the Pure Amici were both higher priced items to begin with, and they do seem easier to maintain in decent shape. But is that always the case? Probably not.
The first sweater is 80% wool/ 20% nylon.
The second is 100% cashmere.
The third is a wool/ cashmere blend.
The fourth is 100% cashmere.
Is the Gleener worth it? A resounding maybe. :) I will keep it and use it...but I won't bother with it on the truly incorrigible knitwear fails.
ETA: Tried a more robust attachment on my "problem" sweater and although you can't really see it here -- it helped a lot! Looks much better!!
With this update, I would say TRY it if you wear a lot of knits and want to keep them looking nice. It's not a perfect tool but if you experiment with the heads you might be happily surprised.