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Know Your Knits

A weft knit is made with a single yarn
A warp knit is made with numerous parallel yarns
In a knit fabric, a vertical column of stitches is called a wale, and a horizontal row, a course
 
A weft knit is made with a single yarn

A weft knit is made with a single yarn

by Sarah Veblen
from Threads #97, pp. 59-63

I've found that many sewers shy away from knit fabrics, perhaps confused by the wide variety available (take a look at the samples in this article alone) or unsure of what kind of garment to construct from a particular knit. I believe the more you know about a fabric, the easier it is to evaluate how to use it. And knits are definitely worth getting to know—they are much easier to fit than wovens; resist wrinkles; in most cases, are wonderful to handle; and are extremely comfortable to wear. And these days you can find a remarkable range of knits in various fibers, among them, linen, silk, wool, Tencel, polyester, cotton, and cotton blends.

When I’m asked how I know if a pattern will work with a certain knit, I have to say that the answer is ingrained in my fingers. Handling the fabric triggers now-intuitive knowledge derived from years of sewing with knits and absorbing every scrap of information I’ve ever learned about them. I’d like to provide you with an overview of basic facts about knit fabrics to help you develop your own cache of knowledge that will soon find its way into your fingertips.

Anatomy of a knit fabric:
There are two basic types of knit fabrics—weft knits and warp knits—and it’s the direction in which the yarns making up the fabric are looped that determines which type of knit the fabric is.
Weft knit Warp knit
Weft knit A weft knit is made with a single yarn looped horizontally to form a row, or course, with each row building on the previous one. A hand-knitted fabric is a weft knit.   Warp knit A warp knit is made with numerous parallel yarns that are looped vertically at the same time.
Weft knit Warp knit

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ThreadsMagazine Threads Magazine, editor
Posted on Nov 19th, 2008 in sewing, garment construction, fundamentals, fabric

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