Why does stockinette stitch curl and how can I prevent it?

Q&A: Why does stockinette stitch curl and how can I prevent it?

Are you familiar with the annoying curl in stockinette stitch knitting? Trust us, we’ve been there and it’s frustrating. We understand how important it is to have a neat final product, so we’re sharing our findings from countless hours of research on this common issue.

This piece will give you insights into why your stockinette stitch curls and provide useful techniques for preventing it. Ready to uncurl those edges? Let’s dive in!

Knitting Woman

Why Does Stockinette Stitch Curl?

Stockinette stitch curling is a common source of frustration for us knitters. Why? It’s all down to the structure inherent in stockinette fabrics. The two different stitches used – knit and purl – have varying tensions, which introduces imbalance into your fabric.

The knit stitches tend to be tighter and shorter than their purl counterparts, causing the fabric edges to curl.

The imbalances are most noticeable when you’re working with an entire piece of fabric in stockinette stitch, like a scarf or blanket. In these situations, the edge of your project may begin to coil inward toward the right side of your work.

This can disrupt our knitting design pattern significantly! Notably though, it’s this very feature that also gives Stockinette its unique texture and breathability–a quality we absolutely adore!

How to Prevent Stockinette Stitch from Curling

To prevent stockinette stitch from curling, there are a few techniques you can try:

  • Adjust your gauge: Experiment with different needle sizes to find the one that gives you the proper tension. Tighter stitches can help reduce curling.
  • Use a different stitch: Instead of stockinette stitch, try using garter stitch or seed stitch. These stitches have more texture and tend not to curl as much.
  • Add a lacy border: Adding a border of lace or another textured stitch pattern to your stockinette fabric can help stabilize the edges and prevent curling.
  • Block your finished project: Blocking involves wetting or steaming your knitting and then shaping it while it dries. This can help set the stitches in place and reduce curling.
  • Try ribbing: Ribbing is a pattern that alternates knit and purl stitches. It has natural elasticity and can help prevent curling in stockinette fabric.

Before you go…

Stockinette stitch curls because the knit stitches on one side of the fabric want to roll towards the purl stitches on the other side. To prevent this, you can try adjusting your tension, using smaller needles, or adding a border such as ribbing or seed stitch.

Blocking your finished project can also help relax the fabric and reduce curling. Experiment with different techniques and find what works best for you to create flat, non-curling stockinette stitch projects.

Happy knitting!


1. Why does stockinette stitch curl?

Stockinette stitch curls because the knit stitches are wider and shorter than the purl stitches, causing them to pull inward and create a natural curling effect.

2. How can I prevent stockinette stitch from curling?

There are several methods to prevent stockinette stitch from curling, including adding a border or edging in a different stitch pattern, blocking your finished project, using ribbing or garter stitch at the edges, or applying a crochet trim to stabilize the fabric.

3. Will using a different yarn help prevent stockinette stitch from curling?

Choosing a yarn with more drape and weight can help reduce the propensity for stockinette stitch to curl. Yarns with higher silk or cotton content tend to have better drape and may result in less pronounced curling.

4. Can blocking eliminate the curl in stockinette stitch?

Blocking can help relax and reshape your knitted fabric, potentially reducing the amount of curl in stockinette stitch. However, it may not completely eliminate the problem unless combined with other techniques such as adding an edge treatment or choosing specific yarns that resist curling tendencies.

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