How To... How to stop stocking stitch curling - LoveKnitting blog. Photo credit: Wee Folk Art

Published on June 30th, 2015 | by Elizabeth Bagwell


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?

Stocking stitch curls up unless you add an edge - on the LoveKnitting blogPhoto:Β

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,!)

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.

About the Author

Elizabeth is a keen knitter, occasional designer, enthusiastic traveler and a professional freelance writer. She spent three years working for British knitting magazine, Simply Knitting, and has also written for The Knitter and other craft titles.

Last updated: July 2nd, 2015.

19 Responses to How to Stop Stocking Stitch from Curling

  1. Ida says:

    Am rather disappointed that a blog originating in England would ignore the July 1st national holiday of Canada. Perhaps it is to be expected since your collaboration with American yarn distributors.

  2. Karen says:

    Whoo ….. Seriously, lighten up re Canada Day holiday, please! Great article! K aka Canadian Knitter

  3. Pauline Mathers says:

    Another way of avoiding curling edges on stocking stitch is to knit the first and last stitch on the purl row, it’s always worked for me, and does not take any effort.

    • Sarah says:

      Thanks Pauline I defo try this πŸ™‚

    • Yvonne T says:

      Does picking up the first stitch instead of knittting it do the same thing? Someone mentioned this to me, but I haven’t tried it yet.

  4. Julie Green says:

    Gosh chaps… definitely need to cool it as here in London it’s record high temperature for July (and currently Kingston on Thames is hotter than Kingston, Jamaica!). I’ve tried just picking up the first stitch and it does work but I think using moss stitch is neater. Happy days!

  5. sureen says:

    Sad to hear “happy” knitters bicker. Surely this site is available all over the world where there are SO many different public holidays, & you don’t hear them moan & groan.
    I’ve used moss (that’s seed for US) stitch to counteract rolling fairly successfully.

    Thanks for a good website.

  6. Merion says:

    Hi all – the LoveKnitting team is from all over the world! I think last time we checked, there were over 32 different languages spoken in our office! We are very passionate about our yarn and designers, and on the blog we try to include a mixture of celebration, how-to and excitement about patterns and yarn! (or should I say, we try to control our excitement about patterns and yarn!) What would you like to see here? Tell us and we’ll do our best to include it in our schedule!
    Merion & the LoveKnitting team!

  7. Anita says:

    Thanks for all the good plans!
    On a cowl I knit a double layer, (which had the added bonus of super warmth), so it couldn’t curl.
    On a scarf I crocheted the edges, but I treated my knit stitches as if they were the posts of crochet stitches and thus did a kind of a “front post” stitch(or is it back post? I inserted my hook from the back, round the front). It forces that stubborn curl to submit.
    Happy stitching, everyone!

  8. Linda Galloway says:

    I was taught to slip the first stitch knitwise and knit into the back of the last stitch on every row, regardless of what the pattern says. This has worked for me for 60+ years. This also gives a nice edge for sewing up and for picking up stitches for neck borders etc.
    Was very surprised by the sniping in the first few comments here. We knit, therefore we’re nice to each other, folks!

  9. Helen Mac says:

    Bickering amongst knitters, unheard of, must be a ‘dropped stitch day’. 30th November in your diaries, yes, St.Andrews Day in Scotland, just couldn’t resist, naughty, I know!

  10. Cindy says:

    It’s a knitting tutorial not a holiday bitch session calm down people and knit something πŸ™‚

  11. Lyn Grentell says:

    I like your hint Linda and will def use it. I’m not keen on sewing things up and this should help on this front too. Any hints on joining knitting when using dpn’s I always get a gap

    • Linda Galloway says:

      Sorry, meant to get back to you sooner. After casting on to dpns, I just slip the first two stitches cast on (which will be on the first left-hand needle) onto the right hand needle and start knitting from cast-on stitch 3. You can do this again at the joins of the other pins too so you have the right number of sts on each pin. When you get to the end of the first round, the last stitches will be part of the row, and there shouldn’t be a gap when you start round 2. This also seems to work when knitting in the round on circular pin. Hope this helps.

  12. Heather Fugere says:

    Similar to Linda’s suggestion, I slip the first stitch (both knit and purl) of every row which makes a lovely flat edge!

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