Another QOTD

Why does stockinette stitch curl? And what can I change
to maybe minimize the curl?

I've seen some stockinette stitch pieces that just seem to
lay perfectly flat. Mine curl immediately.

BTW, thanks for all the comments on my last post. I am
astonished by the response. I knew guys who knit were a
friendly and helpful bunch, but this is overwhelming. Maybe
I'll meet one or two face-to-face someday.


jwhassjr's picture

No thoughts on why it curls. It just does seems to be the stock answer on that question. However you can either knit several rows of garter stitch, seed stitch, or ribbing prior to starting your stocking stitch, which prevents it from curling nicely. For smaller pieces such as neck openings and armholes, you can also knit applied i-cord, which will prevent your stocking stitch from rolling. Outside of that, I don't know of any other methods. Just one of the things in knitting that helps in our quest of letting go of control :)

ronhuber's picture

Meg Swansen developed "Purl When You Can". She inserts purl stitches randomly into a field of stockinette and it does not curl. She says that you need surprisingly few to accomplish this. She developed it for Fair Isle knitting when she didn't want a border. The "when you can" part refers to fact that you would not purl with red on top of a white stitch as that would create a blip. If you are doing only one colour you can stick them in whenever and wherever.

JuanC1965's picture

Hi Rob,
I don't recall the reason for the curling. But those pieces that you see that lay flat are likely (more like definitely) to have been blocked. I am a little shy with my blocking and my stockinette still curls a little. Research blocking and try it.

New York Built's picture

The answer is surprisingly simple. Kinkiness. You know what I mean (wink, wink).

Your knitting is unequal in design. Knit stitches have a tiny bit less yarn in than than purl stitches. If you knit English or continental, you can compensate slightly by relaxing your mind, hands, posture, needle position, use a roller holder device to add no additional twist to the already twisted yarn. Combination knitters are boring, so they have less kinkiness.

The same thing that makes those short and curlys...short and curly!

You could also knit in a room that cancels the rotation of the Milky Way galaxy, the yaw of the arm our galaxy, the solar system rotation, the earth's...but I don't recommend using this will be left behind the rest of us in short order, and getting back is so darn hard!

Better to use steam or blocking to relax those kinks...or rub it in a circular motion reserved for customers of The Mine Shaft, Manhole or the Lure.

Every person I encounter teaches me more about myself. Without whom not.

robstrauss's picture

thanks for the advice, but what is a "roller holder device?" Also, are some yarns twisted in the opposite direction that would compensate for the twisting done while knitting?

would knitting in the steam room be less kinky?

New York Built's picture

Roller holding device - if you pull yarn from a center pull ball, or from the outside of the ball, you are adding more twist to the yarn than it already has. Think of a toilet paper roll...pull the paper off the roll either way from a stationary roll, and you get...a twisted paper tube...right? If the yarn reels off, like a fishing rod or a roll holder device that allows the roll to added twist. This will help slightly, even more so, because as the yarn tries to recover from being twisted, it accentuates the curling even more!

This twist you speak of..."Z" twist or "S" twist refers to whether it is a right twist or left twist. As with all things, this being a righty world, guess which one dominates 90% or more of available yarns? Right twist. The one in 10 rule again...(sigh). Left twist is almost used exclusively for machine and industrial knitting and special applications...whips, slings, personal restraint devices...LOL, just kidding. Hmmnnnnn....

Knitting in the steam room is not recommended...your vision will be obscured, and the wrong message delivered to your steam room buddies. They will see you preoccupied and their gaytention deficit disorder will kick in. So, definitely less kinky.

Every person I encounter teaches me more about myself. Without whom not.

Stan Stansbury's picture

Stockinette stitch curls because the purl side of the stitch is wider and contains more yarn than the knit.
If you're OK with the way they look, stitch patterns like seed stitch and moss stitch that combine knit and purl stitches on the same side of the piece don't curl. Garter stitch doesn't curl because it's either all knit or all purl.

Joe-in Wyoming's picture

All are good replies. For my last project I just added a border of garter stitch on all sides to prevent curling. You have to be careful though...I did an afghan once where they didn't add enough garter stitches to the sides and it curled anyway. I kind of thought that would happen but trusted their designers to get it right. Boy, was I fooled. -- Books, knitting, cats, fountain pens...Life is Good.

Books, knitting, cats, fountain pens...Life is Good.

jessemkahn's picture

what is this 'letting go of control' of which you speak jwhassjr?

jwhassjr's picture

nothing too radical really. when i started knitting, i always heard other seasoned knitters say things like it's just what it does when i would ask similiar questions, and why does stocking stitch curl was one of my first ones. i was hell bent on disproving that when i was green, but i soon learned there are some things in knitting i couldn't control and simply had to accept. i believe it's made me a more tolerant knitter, but even more so, a more tolerant person...thanks knitting.

Jaredsfa2004's picture

Ok, I didn't read what everyone wrote, because I didn't want their influence change my answer...I found that if you start with a knit on every row, be it the right or wrong, that will make the edge be knit/pearl/knit/pearl etc. This will keep the project from curling. I don't know why it automatically curls, but that's something that we all have to deal, we learn to change it.

Jaredsfa2004's picture

what I was trying to explain in my earlier post, is you would have to use a garter border to keep a block of stockinette flat. the reason why it doesn't stay flat is simple, yin and yin, doesn't work... it needs a yang, an opposite to balance it... which is why we have knit, and pearl. add a single addition of garter stitch to the beginning and end of your work, and the project wont curl in on itself. I found if you add a border like a crocheted border or an icord, that fixed the problem, however, if you're working on a shirt of something that doesn't have a border, just make sure that you have an odd row, with every row starting on a knit stitch, to make sure every row starts and ends with a knit stich.