Why Is The Stockinette Stitch Always Curling? [A Knitting Tutorial]

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Knitting Science At Its Best Can Explain

Have you ever wondered why stockinette stitch has the bad habit of curling? In case you have, then knitting science can tell you why. Here is the scientific answer you have been waiting for.

When you look at a simple stitch, you will notice right away that it looks like a head with two arms. The head is what you see on the purl side of the stockinette stitch, while the arms are the ones you see on the knit side. Sounds easy, right?


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What happens is that the head causes tension in the two arms, pulling at them. That is why the head, or the knit side, is always stronger, causing the arms to curl inward, hence giving your work the aspect you know well.

Trying different knitting techniques will give you even more information on how the final work behaves

Garter stitch, for instance, always remains straight and flat, because each row counterbalances the next one, and so on.

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The same thing happens with ribbing, where each stitch counterbalances its neighbors, so that the work remains flat

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Knitting physics is not hard. Once you understand what it happens when you are knitting, you will easily understand how to deal with different patterns.

So, to recount what we’ve learned so far, the stockinette stitch curls because of the tension in the arms caused by the head.

Garter stitch and ribbing are your best bets because they do not curl. Actually, what they do is that they offer the perfect counterbalance, so that your work remains flat and manageable.

When you work with stockinette stitch, a good idea would be to make the edges using a different type of stitch. This way, you will enjoy the nice straight effect of the stitch, without having it curl.

Source & Explanatory Images

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