Stocking stitch (stockinette stitch) for beginners: all you need to knowSee more from Simply Knitting magazine
This versatile fabric forms the basis of most knitting and is easy to make using knit and purl stitches. Follow our guide to learn how it's done…
Why is my knitting curling?
Have you noticed that your stocking stitch fabric always wants to curl up? Don’t worry – you’re not doing anything wrong. It’s just the way stocking stitch is! Knit and purl stitches are slightly different sizes, and this means that any knitted fabric which has all the knit stitches on one side and all the purl stitches on the other (like stocking stitch and reverse stocking stitch) will roll.
For this reason it’s best not to use stocking stitch for narrow knitting, such as scarves, because you’ll end up with a tube. It’s also not a good idea to use it at the edge of a garment, for example, unless a curled-up hem is the look you’re going for.
How to stop stockinette stitch curling
While the curl of stocking stitch can be an attractive design feature, it’s incredibly frustrating if your fabric starts to roll up when you don’t want it to. The easiest way to prevent stocking stitch from curling is to stop it from happening in the first place – by adding a border using a stitch pattern that lies flat.
Any pattern where the knit and purl stitches are fairly evenly distributed on each side of the fabric will work for this purpose. One of the most popular options is ribbing, which also has the advantage of being stretchy so it’s perfect for hems and cuffs. If you’re handy with a crochet hook or want a decorative border, you could add a crochet edge to prevent curling instead. Here are a few different stitches to try:
But what if you’ve already cast off your project? Unfortunately it’s a lot harder to fix curling fabric after the fact, but there are a few things that can help:
Blocking your knitting is incredibly effective for flattening lace and smoothing cables, but it will have a limited effect on stocking stitch, and what effect it does have will be temporary. The exception is projects made in acrylic yarn, which can be ‘killed’ by heating with an iron. This will flatten out that pesky stocking stitch roll, though it also changes the look and feel of the fabric, so do a swatch and proceed with caution!
2. Adding a border
Another option is to pick up stitches around the edge of your finished item and add a knitted or crocheted border using one of the stitches given above. Be aware that the border will need to be at least 2½cm wide, so may affect the finished look and fit of your piece. Decorative additions such as tassels and fringes can also help add weight and prevent curling.
3. Sewing a fabric lining
Backing your knit with a fabric lining is a good way to stop it from rolling up, and if you use a patterned fabric it can be really effective visually too. Knit up a swatch using leftover yarn and try out a few different options (cotton, fleece, felt and so on) to see what works best for your project.
4. Leaving it alone
If all else fails, there’s always our favourite fallback for so many knitting mistakes: leave it be and call it a design decision. No one will ever know…
Don’t miss our complete guide to knitting for beginners for everything you need to know to start knitting!
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