How to Stop Stocking Stitch from Curling
Stocking stitch curls but if you don’t want a rolled edge, try these tips from Elizabeth Bagwell.
If you cast on and knit a stocking stitch square, cast off and let it go it will often roll itself into a tube. A project that can’t roll at both ends (such as a sweater or even a baby hat) will tend to curl up at the loose edge. If you pin both cast on and cast off down, it may roll at the sides. This is known as a rolled brim or rolled edge, and is a design feature on many patterns. But if it’s not what you had in mind, what can you do?
Don’t knit stocking stitch at the cast on or cast off edge
If you’ve already cast off, please skip ahead. Otherwise, swapping out a rolled edge for a flat one is easy: replace the rows of stocking stitch near the edge of the pattern with a stitch that doesn’t roll. Most stitch patterns don’t, including rib, garter stitch and moss stitch or seed stitch.
Blocking and steaming – don’t expect too much
Rolling is not usually a problem that will block out. Stocking stitch rolls because there’s a difference in tension between the stitches on one side and the other. This isn’t something you can change as you knit – it’s down to shape of the yarn in the stitch.
As a result, while your project may look perfect while it’s pinned out on the bed blocking, it will almost always start to curl as soon as you take out the pins and start wearing it.
Felting and killing acrylic
Changing the nature of the yarn can stop rolling. Stitches in felted projects are too tightly packed to curl and acrylic that has been ‘killed’ (heated beyond the point where it can retain its elasticity) often doesn’t roll either. However, in both cases, the project will be quite different afterwards, and will be a different size, texture and fit. Definitely try this one on a swatch first.
Add an extra band in another stitch
To stop a completed project from rolling at the edge, you can pick up and knit a band in another stitch, or knit one and sew it on. Both these options will make the item longer or larger, so you may find it’s not appropriate for every project. The extra band doesn’t have to be knitted – you can used cloth or crochet instead.
Crochet a border
One of the easiest ways to add a border is to crochet one on. Few crochet stitches roll, and the weight of the extra fabric will keep the stocking stitch in line. A simple row of double (single in the US) crochet may be enough to do the trick, but you can also add colourwork or a complex lace motif as a feature to brighten up a plain cardi or lengthen a jumper that’s been out grown.
Mixing knitting and crochet isn’t just for emergency repairs. If you have trouble starting a crochet project from a chain, crocheting around a knitted panel is a great way to start. You can also use crochet to stitch two pieces of knitting together, so it’s well worth having both skills (take a look at our sister site, LoveCrochet.com!)
Add tape, lining or backing fabric
Add a bit of scaffolding to the wrong side (hidden side) with stiff cloth or sewing tape. The extra weight may also help hems hang flatter. A risk with this technique is that the knitted fabric will fold around the tape, so instead of a rolled hem you’ll have a folded one. Try it on a swatch, first, and then pin and check it’s working before you sew.
Last updated: July 2nd, 2015.