Prevent curling edges in stockinette

How to prevent curling edges in stockinette stitch

Have you ever wondered how to prevent curling edges for your knitted items? Then this post is for you!

Curling lays in the nature of the stockinette stitch, it just the way it is. But, of course, there are some hacks for a non-curl knitted fabric. Nothing is impossible, right?

In this post, we will examine the possibilities to avoid curling all together as well as how to save a finished project that’s already curling.

At first, we go through why the stockinette stitch is so keen on rolling.

Second, I list different methods for avoiding curly knits and go over the pros and cons of every method.

Third, we’re diving into the available solutions on what to do when a finished piece is curling.

Don't Be Such a Square | Knitting Hack! Learn how to avoid rolling edges in knits | How to prevent curling edges when knitting stockinette stitch #knitting #knittingtips #stockinettestitch
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What is stockinette stitch and why does it curl?

To prevent your knits from curling you have to understand why they curl.

When you knit the stockinette stitch all the stitches on the right side are knit stitches, and all the stitches at the wrong side are purl stitches.

Stockinette in the round

That means that if your knitting in the round, on circulars or double-pointed needles, you will only have to do the knit stitches. Stockinette pieces knitted in the round consists of a spiral of knit stitches forming a tube.

The tube will curl outward, against the knit side, at the top and the bottom edges. If you cut the tube open, the cut sides it will start to curl towards the wrong side.

Reading tips:
–> Circular Knitting Needles for Beginners This post walks you through what circular knitting needles are and why they are so darn good!
–> Want to learn how to use them? I’ve got you covered! The Easiest tutorial on Circular Knitting Needles explains the basics in video, images, and text.
–> Looking for the best Circular Needles to buy? Interchangeable Knitting Needles is the best invention ever, in my book.

Flat stockinette

If you knit back and forth, flat, you have to do one row of knit stitches. And then one row of purl stitches. These two rows are then repeated until the desired length.

The stockinette worked flat will curl at all four edges. Trying to bend towards the wrong side at the sides and towards the right side at the top and bottom.

Tension

All stitches have tension in them. The curling will emerge when there are to much tension on one side of the fabric.

The knit stitches have higher tension than the purl stitches. Because of the higher tension, the knit stitches pulls the fabric and this is what’s causing the curling edges.

Many stitch– and lace patterns don’t curl at all or very little. This is because they mix knit and purl stitches on both the right and the wrong side. The mixing of stitches evens the tension in the fabric and makes it flat.

How to prevent curling knits

Add purls – create a stitch pattern

To prevent knits from curling you add purl stitches to the right side.

And, if you add purl stitches to the right side, they will, of course, be knit stitches at the wrong side.

As mentioned earlier, the purl stitches as a lower tension than the knit stitches. And mixing the two together will even out the tensions that make the fabric curl.

Don't Be Such a Square | Avoid Rolling edges! My best tips for preventing curling edges #knitting #knittingtips
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But how many purl stitches will you have to add then?

I would say that if at least a quarter of the stitches are purl ones you’re safe. But, as always, make a swatch! I’ll say that again … Make a swatch.

If you have to freshen up your swatching skills, please read this post: How to measure gauge in knitting It explains why you should make a swatch, and how to do it right. It’s a lot of good information in there!

Stitch patterns are a cute way to prevent curling

When you add purl stitches to your knit ones you’re actually creating a stitch pattern.

The most commonly used are different kind of ribs, garter, moss stitch and seed stitch. These are all easy to knit, look pretty and, does the work of keeping things flat and nice!

Lace patterns

Lace patterns are quite alike stitch patterns. The difference is that they have holes in them, creating more light and flowing fabrics.

Lace usually doesn’t curl, but if it’s built on the stockinette stitch they may. The best way of finding out if a lace pattern with stockinette in it will curl is to … yes, you guess right. Make a swatch!

Try another stitch: Double stockinette

Double stockinette looks like the right side of stockinette from both sides. What I mean with that is that double stockinette creates the classic ”V”-shaped stitch on both the right and the wrong side of your work. Neat, right!

Double stockinette is done with knit stitches and slipped stitches, and it’s not complicated at all. As a matter of fact, there’s no purling involved which as some of you might know makes this knitter very, very happy 🙂

All you have to do is to cast on an even number of stitches. Then you alternate between knitting one and then slipping one purlwise with your yarn in front of the work.

This is how the double stockinette stitch is done

  1. Cast on your stitches, you will need to pick an even number.
  2. * Knit 1, slip 1 purlwise wyif*
  3. Repeat from * until the end of your row.
  4. Turn your knitting and repeat.

Reading Tip:
––> You can find a full tutorial and watch a video about how to knit the Double Stockinette stitch here.

Bigger needles can make a difference

Try changing your needles to a bigger size, this can make your work a little flatter.

Bigger needles make bigger stitches. Therefore the tension in the stitches will decline and pull less on the fabric you’re creating. Knitting on bigger needles will also add more drape to your work, so if this is something that works with the design you’re knitting, give it a try!

Add an edge to prevent your knits from curling

An edge around your stockinette can prevent it from curling. The method is the same as the one above. Just add an edge of a stitch pattern with both purl and knit stitches in it to avoid the knit fabric from curling.

How many rows of stitch pattern you need to add to the top and bottom edges depends on your yarn and tension. Somewhere between 5 and 20 usually make the trick.

The same numbers apply to how many stitches your edging should have at the sides.

And, well, I know I’m repeating myself here but, you will have to try it out and see what works.

Which type of edging to choose depends on your project. But some suggestions might be:

  • Garter
  • Lace
  • Ribbing
  • Seed stitch
  • A cable with garter stitch around it
  • or any stitch pattern you like …
A project in stockinette stitch with an edge knitted in garter stitch to prevent the edges from curling.
A project in stockinette stitch with an edge knitted in garter stitch to prevent the edges from curling.

Reading tip:
––> Do you know all the Knitting Abrevations? I know I don’t! That’s why I decided to gather all I could get my hands on (88!) on a cheat sheet that you can bookmark and comeback to when needed or print out and keep in jour knitting journal! Knitting abbrevations Knitters Cheat Sheet

Knit a hem

Knitting a hem to stop curling hemlines is a good option all garments that you would be hemmed if sewed. Hats and sweaters for example.

To knit a hem at the cast on side of your work:

  • Knit stockinette stitch until you think it’s time to fold your hem over.
  • Then knit the row where your work will be folded. This can be just a purl row or one row of yarn overs (YO) and knit two together (k2tog) creating a picot hem when folded.
  • After the folding row, work the same amount of stockinette rows as you did before the folding row.
  • Fold them together and pick up stitches from the cast on and knit these together with the live stitches on your needle. Continue to knit your garment as intended.

To knit a hem at the bind off end of your work:

It’s essentially just the same to end with the hem as to start with it, it’s just done in reverse!

  • Knit until the place where you want your hemline. That is the row where you want your fold to be.
  • Then knit the folding row, it can just be a purl row on the right side or maybe you prefer a picot edging. To make a picot edging knit one row of alternating yarn overs (YO) and knit two together (k2tog).
  • Then knit stockinette for as many rows as you wish your hem to be.
  • Fold the hem over to the back and pick up stitches where you want to attach the hem to the fabric and make a three needle bind-off.
    This Drops video shows how to make the three needle bind off. But you will have to hold your work with the wrong sides together.
  • OR, you could just bind your work off and then sew the hem onto the fabric afterward. This video from Drops shows how to fold and sew the hem.

Both ways are good, it’s really just about which method you prefer.

Try a non-elastic yarn and bigger needles

Yarns with no “bounce”, like cotton or bamboo, also curl but if they are knit loosely the can often (but not always, make a swatch …) block out to lay flat after wet-blocking.

Knit in the round

For some projects like blankets, afghans and rectangle scarfs, knitting a tube instead of a flat item can be a good option.

The fabric will be double, so it takes twice as much yarn and will be twice as thick. In some projects that’s a good thing, in others not.

Just knit stitches is an appealing thought too …

But if you are done already? Is there any trick to make it better?

Absolutely! Actually, there are a few:

Add a crochet edge to prevent curling

In that case, grab your hook and crochet around the edges. This will look nice and may help flatten your work out. There is a risk that the curling of the knit fabric makes the crochet edge flip over to one of the sides.

Simple single crochet will do, but if you want to you could totally add a cute lace edging or some granny stripes. Let the style of your project decide.

Add a knitted edging

Pick up stitches along the edge, if you have knitted a scarf or blanket you may have to pick up stitches around all edges.

If the problem just occurs along one edge, pick up stitches along that edge. Or if it’s a cast on or bind off you could rip it open and continue knitting in the live stitches.

Then knit a non-curl edge, like those suggested above.

Just as for the crochet edge there is a risk that the added edge will fold over because of the tension in the knitted fabric. Sometimes it works, sometimes not.

Make a knitted hem

Pick up stitches, or undo your bind-off or cast on and add a knitted hem.

When you have the stitches on your needles, the procedure is the same as for knitting a hem before binding off.

I have copy-pasted the instructions for you so you wouldn’t have to scroll back up again!

To knit a hem at the bind-off end of your work:

It’s essentially just the same to end with the hem as to start with it, it’s just done in reverse!

  • Knit until the place where you want your hemline. That is the row where you want your fold to be.
  • Then knit the folding row, it can just be a purl row on the right side or maybe you prefer a picot edging. To make a picot edging knit one row of alternating yarn overs (YO) and knit two together (k2tog).
  • Then knit stockinette for as many rows as you wish your hem to be.
  • Fold the hem over to the back and pick up stitches where you want to attach the hem to the fabric and make a three needle bind-off.
    This Drops video shows how to make the three needle bind off. But you will have to hold your work with the wrong sides together.
  • OR, you could just bind your work off and then sew the hem onto the fabric afterward. This video from Drops shows how to fold and sew the hem.

Both ways are good, it’s really just about which method you prefer.

Adding a backing to your project

Some projects that need some help to uncurl can benefit from an added backing.

For example, a blanket or scarf could look super cute with a nice fabric backing. It could not only prevent curling but also make a project feel more elaborate and detailed. It also adds warmth and coziness, and some stability.

Another benefit is that any untidiness going on on the wrong side, for example, floating strands from colorwork, could be hidden forever!

Some tips for adding fabric to knitted items

Choose a fabric that’s the same weight as your yarn. A lighter weight fabric will not stop the curling and a heavier fabric might be too bulky.

Wash your fabric before attaching it to your knitting, to preshrink it.

If you’re going to block your knitting, to it before the fabric is attached. The fabric will not be as elastic as your knitwork.

Mama In A Stitch has a good tutorial on how to add backing to a crochet blanket, the same technique applies to knitted blankets too. Even if you’re not adding any backings today, take a look at her blog, it’s beautiful and very well written!

Can blocking prevent curling edges?

A simple method that can work sometimes is wet-blocking.

Blocking makes wonders for your knits, it opens up the stitches and makes everything even and nice looking. Stitch patterns become clearer, stockinette smoother and lace patterns will open up.

But, have in mind that blocking does just that, makes the stitches fall in place. It doesn’t change the nature of the stitch or the yarn.

If your finished project includes a stockinette and quite much of other stitch patterns blocking can help. But, it’s not likely that you’re going to succeed with blocking out the curl from a piece that’s entirely knit in stockinette stitch.

If this quick fix is going to work also depends a lot on the fiber. A non-elastic fiber as cotton or bamboo is more likely to give after for some wet-blocking. Acrylic yarns are harder to affect, and blocking is less likely to flatten out curled edges knit in this type of yarn.

Give it a try, it’s fast and easy. Not sure how to do it? Watch this video from Drops!

If you found this article helpful maybe you will find my article on how to knit a smooth stockinette stitch useful too! You can never get too many knitting hacks, right?

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Happy Knitting!

Prevent Curling edges in Stockinette – Learn some cute ways to prevent those curling edges! #Knitting #StockinetteStitch #KnitEdges

Don't Be Such a Square | Knitting Hack! Tips to fix rolling edges in knits | How to prevent curling edges when knitting stockinette stitch #knitting #knittingtips #stockinettestitch
Prevent Curling edges on your knitted pieces  – Learn how stitch patterns can be used to prevent your knitted items from rolling in the egdes! #Knitting #StockinetteStitch #KnitEdges

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