May 26, 2015 2 min read

I love summer-- it's so relaxed.   Everything is light and casual.  Summer sweaters are much the same - light fibers, relaxed fit, and easy construction with minimal finishing.  Lots of summer tops are designed with an un-finished edge that curls slightly. Look at the Nauset Tee above by Hannah Fettig for Quince & Co.  

It's a very J-Crew look, and it works with summer sweaters.  Not just because summer looks are relaxed, but because summer yarns allow it.

Here's why.  Stockinette fabric curls.  It's a fact of life knitters learn early on.  All stockinette curls, but not to the same degree. 

Why does knitting curl?

Lots of factors govern how much your fabric will curl, but here are the three main reasons knitting curls

  • The stitch used
  • The elasticity of the yarn
  • The knitted gauge. 

Stockinette stitch fabric curls and rolls

Stockinette - where the knits are all on one side and the purls on the other, will always curl.  Some say it's because the knit stitches are wider than the purl stitches and push them to the side, some say it's because of the direction of the tension of knit and purl stitches. The scientific reason is less important than understanding that it's not anything you're doing wrong, it's just a fact of knitting life - stockinette fabric curls to the purl side along the side of your fabric and rolls up to the knit side on the bottom of the fabric. 

The more elastic the yarn, the greater the curl and roll

Wool yarns are very bouncy - it's why wool is so nice to knit and so nice to wear.  But it will roll up into a tight little tube without substantial borders of ribbing or seed stitch.  Summer yarns, on the other hand, have very little inherent stretch.  Cotton, linen, hemp, and rayon are notoriously inelastic, so there is not such a strong tendency to curl.  Don't get me wrong, these fabrics do curl a bit, but nothing like fabric knit with wool.  They don't need heavy elaborate borders to keep them flat, so they can be lighter and less constructed.

The tighter the knitting the greater the rolling

The other factor influencing  curl is knitted gauge.  The tighter the fabric, the more it will curl.  Winter garments are knitted tightly to be warm, but summer garments can be knitted a little more loosely, and they will curl less.  They will also be lighter and more comfortable.  Bottom line is that you can get away with minimal edging on summer tops.  A single row of garter stitch is often enough. 

To me, it feels like it It all works out, the way nature intended.  Like summer food cooked outside.  

Come let us help you choose a relaxed summer top to knit.  I look forward to seeing you in the shop and around the table.  You are always welcome here.

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