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knits 2017-05-18


Weft knits are made using one continuous yarn moving back and forth (or around on circular needles if the knit is made as a tube, like a seamless T-shirt or tights). If you are a knitter or have ever learned to knit, you might remember the four basic knitting stitches: knit (or plain), purl, miss (or skip), and tuck. These are the four primary stitches that make up most weft-knit fabrics, as well.

These four stitches provide lots of versatility for knits.  They can be combined to create all sorts of interesting textures and fabric types. Different yarns, thicknesses, fiber types, colors, and the tension of the stitches (how tightly knitted they are) offer lots of opportunity for the creation of a huge variety of knit fabrics.  In here is going to introduce the most commonly available knits: jersey, rib knit, and interlock, but keep in mind that many other knits are available as well.

Jersey Knit. If you look at a basic T-shirt, it’s probably made of jersey. With jersey, every stitch is a knit stitch, so all the loops are drawn to one side of the fabric. The front of jersey fabric is smooth, and the back has a more textured appearance since it’s composed entirely of purl stitches, which create the appearance of a bar across the fabric. Most jersey stretches in both directions: up and down as well as across. The edges of jersey have a tendency to curl, which can make sewing and hemming it rather tricky. Jersey does, however, take prints well because of its smooth surface.

Rib Knit. Think back to that jersey T-shirt we were imagining earlier. The neck band is probably a rib knit. Rib is made by alternating knit and purl stitches to form ridges on both sides of the fabric. Rib knit lies flat and has more stretch in the width than the length. Rib makes great neckbands and cuffs because of this elasticity.

Interlock Knit. Interlock is a variation on rib knit. Instead of creating ridges of knit and purl stitches, interlock has two rows of stitches, one directly behind the other. This can create the impression that the fabric is comprised of two layers, which is why it is sometimes categorized as a double-knit fabric. (The two layers of interlock, however, can’t actually be separated.) Interlock is thicker than jersey, and both sides of the fabric are smooth, like the right side of a jersey fabric. Interlock is more stable than jersey, which means it doesn’t stretch out of shape as easily as jersey and it doesn’t curl at the edges. This ability to lie flat, as well as the fact that interlock take prints nicely, makes it popular for home sewing.

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