Sometimes knitting projects take on a mind of their own. Different stitches and techniques produce fabrics with different characteristics. Sometimes that fabric behaves in unexpected ways. It can be harrowing to realize that your blanket -- which is knit flat and is supposed to lay flat -- has curling edges. Knowing why your knitting is behaving the way it does and how different stitches appear can help reduce the occurrence of curling rows. Different techniques during knitting can encourage the ends of a knitting project to behave and fall in line.
Slip the first stitch of each row instead of knitting it. Sometimes the edge of a knitted row curls because of the bulk associated with knitting the same stitch on the front and back of the project. Slipping the first stitch reduces the bulk and produces a firmer edge.
Choose a stitch pattern that has both knit and purl stitches in every row, such as moss stitch or seed stitch (created by knitting one stitch then purling one stitch). Stitch patterns that incorporate both knit and purl stitches in each row produce a flat fabric that is disinclined to curling. Since knit and purl stitches pull the fabric in different ways, the incorporation of both stitches evens out the fabric. You can find different stitch patterns in a stitch dictionary.
Knit the first and last stitch of every row. This creates a border row of garter stitch on each edge of the fabric. Since garter stitch lays flat, the first and last stitch of each row will be less curly.
Incorporate a decorative border into your work. Designate the first five or ten stitches of each row as a border or cast on an extra number of stitches to act as a border. Knit the border in a flat stitch pattern such as moss, garter or box stitching.
Twist the first stitch of each row. Twisted stitches behave differently than stitches knit normally. They're tighter and less prone to curling. Knit into the back of the stitch or wrap the yarn counter-clockwise to produce a twisted stitch.
Tips & Warnings
- Washing and drying your knitted project evens out imperfections and can make stitches lay flatter than they appeared while knitting. If your knitting still curls, a wash and dry according to the yarn manufacturer's care instructions may take care of the problem.
- A row of single crochet stitches around the border of the finished project can help reduce curling. The crochet stitches add minimal bulk to the project and pull the stitches in the right direction to encourage the project to lay flat.
- "Knitting Rules!"; Stepnahie Pearl-McPhee; 2006
- "The Knitting Answer Book"; Margaret Radcliffe; 2005
- "Knitting for Dummies"; Pam Allen, Tracy Barr, Shannon Okey; 2008
- Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images