Why bands want to flip and curl (click through feature)

As suggested in the introduction to this post, the first strand of the problem is caused by the desire of stockinette to curl: this desire is one of the most powerful forces in all of knitting. (For the reasons why this is so, click here.) When knit into a garment, such as a sweater, or a sleeve, sock, mitten or hat, the circular nature of the garment means that stockinette's curl is restrained by the garment's shape. This is due to the same forces as those which hold up stone domes or arches: the pressure from every side means that the tension inherent in the structure is evenly distributed. In stone arches, this even distribution of force means that the arch does not fall down. In knitting it means that when stockinette is restrained in a circular garment, the curling tension gets distributed around and around, so no one spot curls more than another.

Along an UNrestrained knit edge, however, such as the edge of a scarf, or the front or bottom bands of a cardigan, stockinette fabric will curl, regardless of what it is edged with. Of course, the problem is at its worst in a garment with two unrestrained edges: a scarf with wide garter stitch bands and only a very little stockinette in the middle will simply try to fold in half--the garter stitch edging itself isn't curling, but no matter how wide it is, the garter stitch band isn't preventing the stockinette in the middle from curling. Along a garment with only one unrestrained edge, a wide enough band will overcome the edge curl, but along a bottom band, "wide enough" might mean a bottom band 4 or 5 inches high, while along a front cardigan band, "wide enough" might take the front band to somewhere in the underarm region.

The issue of curling is of course present in a cardigan front band. But this is not the reason why front bands want to flip open. Flipping, as opposed to curling, is due to a change in tension at the boundary between the stockinette fabric and the garter stitch or seed stitch band.

To explain: when first knit, the row count and the stitch count on garter stitch or seed stitch is smaller than that of the corresponding stockinette stitch (ie: of stockinette stitch knit on the same size needles). The explanation is not far to seek: the three-dimensional nature of these stitches means that more yarn is "sticking up" from the surface than is true of a stockinette stitch. Yet, the loop which creates the garter stitch is the same size--it is made around the same size needle--as the loop which creates the stockinette stitch just next to it. More "sticking up" with the same amount of yarn means something else has to be smaller, and each garter or seed stitch is smaller than a stockinette stitch in both width and length. In other words, because of its three dimensionality, each individual unit of garter stitch or seed stitch starts life shorter and narrower than each individual unit of stockinette.

Over the run of a front band, the smaller, tighter garter or seed stitch will "pull up" as compared to the stockinette stitch right beside it. A garter stitch or seed stitch band will basically want to turn inside out to relieve the pressure of being stressed all along the inside edge where it meets the stockinette stitch, while being relatively unstressed along the outer edge--the fabric edge. Usually, a cardigan front band cannot turn all the way inside out, because it is generally restrained along the top and the bottom edge by the top and bottom band. Usually, however, a garter stitch front band gets far enough along towards turning inside-out to flip open and stand at 90 degrees to the stockinette fabric beside it.

I should note that this tendency of garter stitch and seed front bands to flip open tends to lessen with time--so much so that on older sweaters, the originally tight and flipping garter or seed stitch band will now be seen gapping and sagging. You see, the unsupported edge of the front band--the fabric edge--will stretch out over time, as explained here and here. Also, the stitches will flatten as more yarn is drawn from the bouncy, springy texture to the connection between the stitches. This is another way of saying that garter and seed stitch tend to flatten as they age. As the pressure between the inside and the outside edges of the band equalize, there is less impetus for flipping. However, knowing that your sweater bands won't flip open five years from now is small consolation when they're flipping now.

As you know from experience, a line of purl will form a lovely crease horizontally upon a field of stockinette. This is the rationale behind knitting a "fold line" along the top of a sock or the edge of a hat brim. The top edge of a garter stitch bottom band acts a lot like a line of purl--the top line of garter stitch IS a purl line compared to the stocking stitch above it, and the second line of garter stitch, the one below the top line, wants to flip outward. Normally the outward and inward tension cancel one another, but as the stockinette Therefore, a garter stitch bottom band wants to fold along this line. While a purl row on stockinette will flip beautifully to the INSIDE, the thickness of a garter stitch border prevents the purl row at its top from flipping in, and this flip to the inside is further prevented by your body in the sweater But...the very next row down is ANOTHER purl line, relative to the row above it. Naturally, not being on a pure stockinette fabric means that the inclination to fold outward is somewhat weak, but nothing actually prevents this secondary fold line from flipping the way it wants to flip--outward. When this fault line inclined to fold outward is combined with an initially tighter row and stitch gauge, the flipping up of the bottom band is the result. Sit on a flipped up band once or twice, and the tendency is set.


Why change of orientation method of making left leaning decreases does not work for me

The only reason I am analyzing the "change in orientation" option for making left leaning decreases in such exhaustive detail is that I was specifically asked by a reader whether I thought this was a good solution. Sadly, I don't--it doesn't work very well for me, and here are the three reasons I believe that is.

  • a) In my analysis, slack yarn arises from two different parts of the decrease operation. First, it arises because of the manipulation of the stitch involved. Second, because in an "opposite-oriented" (left arm forward) stitch, the angle of the "tail" (the yarn which feeds into the stitch) is different than the angle at which the tail yarn feeds into a "regular oriented" (right arm forward) stitch. If a whole row of stitches are all created in opposite orientation (combined knitting) there is no ANGLE CHANGE between stitches--each stitch is knitted the SAME WITHIN THAT ROW. (In other words, these comments do not apply to combination knitters, who knit all the stitches within any given row with the same orientation.) The slack yarn problem due to orientation change arises when the orientation CHANGES WITHIN THAT ROW. This is because, among other reasons, yarn is not perfectly pliable, when it has to go through an acute bend over a very short span, this changes the yarn tension, and ruffles the fabric face, and more so depending on the twist, spin (S or Z) and diameter of the yarn itself. In any event, because some of the slack yarn problem arises when you change the stitch orientation within one row, then when you opposite-mount the relevant stitch(es), you really are only pushing the slack-yarn problem to where the orientation of THOSE stitches changes. This isn't so much of a problem in the actual decrease row--where you have the decrease to distract your eye, but it leads to as issue of what to do in the non-decrease rows.
  • b) Specifically, if you change the stitch mounts of the 2 stitches you are actually going to decrease (join) together, then on the "plain rows" between decreases, you are faced with a dilemma: Should you change the orientation of ONLY the decrease stitches, or should you also change the orientation of the plain row(s) between? (The last illustration of this entry shows a changed orientation for ALL the relevant stitches in the decrease column: the red, the green and the blue in the accompanying diagram on the main page.) Changing the orientation of the plain row(s) between gets you back to the slack yarn problem (see a) on a plain row where there is no decrease going on to distract the eye; not changing the orientation of the stitches between gets you a decrease column which messy, as the stitches' switching back and forth of orientation disturbs the regular pattern.
  • c) In flat knitting, you have to do the opposite mounting from the back (the purl side). In order to keep track from the back, most people need a stitch marker. Yet adding a stitch marker worsens the slack yarn situation because no matter how thin the marker, it takes at least SOME yarn to bridge over it, and adding slack yarn to a place where it really is unwelcome didn't seem wise. Further, if you are comfortable working "funny stuff" from the purl side, you might as well go whole-hog and try the next trick, which is worked from the back.

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*An explanation of sorts (November 5, 2006)
*What knitting is (November 6, 2006)
*Long tail casting-on (November 20, 2006)

*Knitting on--also called cable or chain cast-on (December 1, 2006)
*Looping-on casting-on (December 4, 2006)
*Provisional casting-on (December 10, 2006)
*Knitting needles (December 12, 2006)
*Tech facts about TECHknitting (December 13, 2006)
*Continental knitting, English knitting and handedness (December 16, 2006)
*The continental knit stitch (December 20, 2006)
*Knitting efficiently (December 22, 2006)
*The continental purl stitch (December 24, 2006)
*The English knit stitch (December 28, 2006)
*Ever have one of those days? (December 31, 2006)


*How to knit with two or more colors -part 3: Knitting with two colors on one hand AND three color knitting (May 2, 2007).
*Half a candle (May 5, 2007)
*An easier way to Kitchener stitch (also called "grafting seams" or "weaving seams") (May 8, 2007)
*Multi-color knitting, one color at a time: multiple-pass color knitting (May 12, 2007)
*QUICKtip: How to see if socks will fit without trying them on (May 13, 2007)
*Multi-color knitting, one color at a time: slipped stitch patterns (May 17, 2007)
*Snagged (random facts meme) (May 19, 2007)
*QUICKtip: 2 kinds of sewing needles (May 21, 2007)
*A very nearly invisible increase (May 23, 2007)
*How to count rows (May 25, 2007)
*QUICKtip: Knots can be your friends (May 28, 2007)
*QUICKtip: Controlling extra-long cables (May 30, 2007)
*QUICKtip: Check the web for errata BEFORE you cast on (May 31, 2007)

*QUICKtip: (The) best first stitch in casting-on or "how to avoid the slipknot" (June 3, 2007)
*Correcting errors in the rows below, part 1: moving a decrease (June 5, 2007)
*Let's speed things up (June 6, 2007)
*Correcting errors in the rows below, part 2: moving an increase (June 8, 2007)
*Correcting errors in the rows below, part 3: adding an increase (June 9, 2007)
*Charting charts: a new way to keep track of knitting (June 13, 2007)
*QUICKtip: Keep your woolies smelling nice & prevent m*ths (June 17, 2007)
*QUICKtip: Buying silk yarn--beware the SMELL (June 18, 2007)
*Smelly woolies ... continued (June 19, 2007)
*Working in ends on multi-color knitting, part 1: the Russian join (June 25, 2007)
*Working in ends on muti-color knitting, part 2: the back join (June 28, 2007)
*Not suitable for children? (June 30, 2007)

*Gauge, again--a cautionary tale (August 3, 2007)
*Unexpected delay (August 24, 2007)

*The crochet hook method of left leaning decreases--PART 4 of right and left leaning decreases (October 3, 2007)
*A poll with a chance at a prize (October 5, 2007)
*Left leaning decreases: the runners up--an uber-geek techno-weenie presentation--PART 5 of right and left leaning decreases (October 9, 2007)
*QUICKtip: improve long tail cast on with a KNOT (October 12, 2007)
*Fixing errors at the side edges of your knitting (October 17, 2007)
*COWYAK--a waste yarn method of provisional cast on (October 22, 2007)
*TECHknitting (TM) and a QUICKtip on conditioning knitting needles (October 26, 2007)
*How to read knitting shorthand and decode knitting charts (October 27, 2007)
*Life on the edge--stitch patterns that can take it and not curl up (pictures, shorthand and diagrams) (October 29, 2007)


*Hello Again (September 4, 2008)

*Sabbatical (October 24, 2008)


*Jogless stripes redux (preview of magazine article)(May 5, 2009)

*I-cord tassels (July 19 2009)

*Lining mittens, part 1: thumb at the side (October 1, 2009)
*Lining mittens, part 2: thumb on the front (October 7, 2009)
*Purl decreases: p2tog, p2tbl, ssp (October 12, 2009)


* Peach Crumble--Knitters have to eat, part 2 (February 8, 2010)
*Kitchener Stitch on garter, stockinette and even ribbing (preview of magazine article) February 14, 2010


*What interests you? A poll with a chance at a prize (April 13, 2010)
*Working in ends as you go along: same color or changing color (April 19, 2010)
*New information on buttonholes (preview of magazine article) (April 23, 2010)
*Buttonhole alternatives (April 30, 2010)

*Upping the ante (May 3, 2010)
*A computer interlude: How to search TECHknitting blog (or any other website) (May 6, 2010)
*Designing and fitting knitwear: some background considerations (May 7, 2010)
*Body shapes and attributes--designing and fitting knitwear, part 2 (May 7, 2010)
*We have a winner! (May 17, 2010)

*Tulip buttonhole: the video (and an interview on KD) (June 1, 2010)

*Podcast interview (July 4, 2010)

*Felted mitten tutorial in Knitcircus e-Magazine (August 4, 2010)
*Lots and lots of views (August 19, 2010)

*No-sew zippers (Nov 5, 2010)
*Little Felted Purse KAL (no sew-zipper) part 1 (November 30, 2010)

*Little Felted Purse KAL (no sew zipper) part 2 (December 2, 2010)
*Little Felted Purse KAL (no sew zipper) part 3 (December 6, 2010)
*Hems and facings: the inside front corner (December 8, 2010)
*Curling scarf rescue mission, part 1: the problems and the solutions which don't work (December 12, 2010)
*Curling scarf rescue mission, part 2: the drop column method (December 19, 2010)
*Curling scarf rescue mission, part 3: transforming stockinette into ribbing (December 21, 2010)
*Inserting no-sew zippers in knitwear--the video (December 23, 2010)
*Curling scarf rescue mission, part 4: lining the scarf (December 31, 2010)

*Unkinking yarn before reuse--why it is a good idea (January 4, 2011)
*A neat little edging for garter stitch (January 14, 2011)
*The ball winder--a useful tool, especially with long color repeat yarns (part 1 of ball winder series) (January 17, 2011)
*Ball winders, part 2: avoiding yarn twist (January 18, 2011)
*Avoiding yarn twist--why does it matter? (January 27, 2011)

*Men's sweaters: E-Z adjustments for better fitting garments (February 1, 2011)
*Circular swatches knit flat (back and forth on two needles) (February 4, 2011)
*Horizontal fold lines in knitting, part 1: knit sides out, purl sides in the fold (February 8, 2011)
*Horizontal fold lines in knitting, part 2: purl sides out, knit sides in the fold (February 10, 2011)
*Linky for KD readers--fixing errors at the side edges of your knitting (February 11, 2011)
*Socks falling down? Consider elastic (February 15, 2011)
*Article and video on jogless stripes, part 1 of a series (February 27, 2011)

*Helix (Barberpole) stripes, part 2 of a jogless stripe series (March 1, 2011)
*Jogless stripes--pretty picture version (part 3 of a series) (March 4, 2011)
*When two strands of yarn wound together work up unevenly (March 5, 2011)
*Going to Yarnover?  I'll be the one in a sweatshirt (March 9, 2011)
*Respite knitting (March 15, 2011)

*Evenly spacing increases or decreases on an uneven stitch count (April 2, 2011)
*A beautiful method of picking up stitches for a second fabric layer (April 10, 2011)

*Items started along a long edge--how best to cast on (May 2, 2011)
*My sweater is too wide... (May 6, 2011)
*My sweater is too long/my sweater is too short... (May 8, 2011)
*My sweater is too tight under the arms, or at the chest/bust--the magic of gussets (May 9, 2011)
*My hat is too loose... (May 12, 2011)

*I-cord with added curl (and maybe beads, too) (July 25, 2011)

*How I cured garter stitch border flip: another method for encouraging garter stitch borders to lay flat (August 27, 2011)

*My sweater slips off my shoulders (September 16, 2011)
*Subscribing to TECHknitting blog (September 20, 2011)

*How to sew on a button without the spacer sandwich (October 1, 2011)
*Seeing double: your chance to win a knitting book (October 5, 2011)
*Renew and reuse: refresh your Uggs (October 13, 2011
*And the winners are... (October 17, 2011)
*"Multiple of X plus Y"--stitch pattern notation explained (October 18, 2011)
*A peek behind the scenes: patterns, old school style (October 21, 2011)
*What the yarn wants to be (October 24, 2011)
*Elizabeth Cap pattern available for purchase (October 28, 2011)

*The stretchiest (and easiest) cast on and bind off (November 4, 2011)
*A felting primer for hand knits (wet felting) (November 7, 2011)
*"Picture Frame" your color knitting to eliminate the jog on discontinuous rounds (November 15, 2011)
*Thinking about thinking about knitting/Two old sweaters stage a cedar closet jailbreak (November 17, 2011)
*Handy knitting links (November 25, 2011)

*Increasing in seed stitch (and decreasing in seed stitch, too!) (December 7, 2011)
*Three needle bind off (December 27, 2011)
*Sharps and flats: sewing needles, part 2 (December 30, 2011)

*Button lore (part 2 of "Buttonholes in hand knitting") (February 23, 2012)
*Instead (a poem for a lazy Sunday) (February 26, 2012)
*Sheepseye aka yarn-over buttonholes (part 3 of "Buttonholes in hand knitting") (February 27 2012)

*Vertical buttonholes (part 4 of "Buttonholes in hand knitting") (March 5, 2012)
*Horizontal buttonholes including diagrams for the new "TULIPS" buttonhole (part 5 of "buttonholes in hand knitting") (March 12, 2012)
*"Oops! I forgot a buttonhole!" (part 6 of "Buttonholes in hand knitting") (March 22, 2012)

*V-necks--that loose stitch at the bottom and how to get rid of it (April 12, 2012)
*Summer vacation, see you in the fall (April 24, 2012)

*A museum of knitting and crocheting? (October 15, 2012)
*Stuffed Mittens (October 17, 2012)
*Zippers in knitting, the no-sewing way (October 22, 2012)
*Skimming in ends with a knit-picker (October 26, 2012)

*Fringes--how to wash knitwear so the fringes don't tangle (November 1, 2012)
*Swing scarf--an I-cord scarf pattern offered for sale (November 5, 2012)
*Autumn leaf salad for the Thanksgiving table--a recipe (TK cooks)(November 13, 2012)
*Kitchener stitching (grafting) with a sewing needle, the contrasting color way (also called the "chimney method") Part 1 of a series (November 20, 2012)
*Step-by step Kitchener stitching (grafting) with a sewing needle: stockinette, reverse stockinette, garter stitch--Part 2 of a series (November 28, 2012)

*Grafting ribbing without the 1/2 stitch offset, two tricks (December 2, 2012)
*Shaping in the Kitchener row--useful for getting rid of donkey ears on sock toes, or grafting an uneven number of stitches together (December 7, 2012)
*Dekink yarn with steam--instant results (includes VIDEO)(December 11, 2012)
*Fixing brioche stitch: Dropping a ladder in brioche and half-brioche, then latching it back up again (December 14, 2012)
*Reworking an old sweater: a job for the Garde Tricot (December 29, 2012)

*Splitting knit fabric into two pieces: a very quick trick (includes VIDEO)(January 2, 2013)
*Cuff-to-cuff: Dealing with the body stitches (January 20, 2013)

*A new trick for fixing errors in color knitting--"controlled drop" (September 15, 2013)

*Steeks--BETA version, part 1: Background (November 3, 2013)
*Steeks--BETA, part 2: Basic method for a faced steek (November 6, 2013)
*Steeks--BETA, part 3: real world tips and tricks (November 24, 2013)

*A faster, easier way to tink (includes VIDEO)(March 24, 2014)

*Invisible afterthought smocking: a useful (and mysterious!) trick (September 6, 2014)
*Basic crocheting for knitters: chain stitch (ch. st.) Slip stitch (sl. st.) and single crochet (sc) (September 20, 2014)

*"Dry blocking" uneven ribbing: a quick little trick (October 5, 2014) (includes VIDEO)
*Slip stitch surface decoration: Fake Latvian Braid (October 21, 2014)
*Fake Latvian Braid, deco bind-off version, perfect for scrap projects (October 30, 21014)

*Lazy Knitter Scrap Tam recipe: a use for deco bind-off FLB + introducing shaping tricks for bringing order out of chaos (November 10, 2014)

*The mechanics of Slip Sitching--Fake Latvian Braid (November 10, 2015)(includes VIDEO)
*Sweater Saver: reknitting the cuffs of a purple sweater (November 16, 2015)
*Picking up stitches along a selvedge (November 22, 2015)
*I-cord bind-off, I-cord selvedge border (November 24, 2105)

*Picking up stitches part 2: picking up along a bound-off edge (December 1, 2015)

*Pinstriping: vertical columns of color, added after the knitting is finished (January 14, 2016)(includes VIDEO)
*Two-color pinstriping: vertical columns of color on a knit fabric (January 18, 2016)
*A pinstriped hat--basic and with variations (January 23, 2016)

*Undulation Rib pinstriped scarf--knitting pinstripes on curves + geek notes on convering ribbing in a shaped fabric via controlled drop (February 10, 2016)

*Gallery: Fake Latvian Braid + Pinstriping--a vest project featuring both kinds of added-color techniques (March 21, 2016)

*Duplicate stitching on knitting--basic how-to + tricks for better results (April 3, 2016)

*Smoothed circles: a jogless join for single rounds in different colors (October 10, 2016)
*TECHknitting, now via e-mail (October 17, 2016)
*Taming long floats via the STUART method for color knitting (October 19, 2016)
*STUART ladderback Jacquard gallery, part 1: Skeleton hat "Round Dance" (October 23, 2016)
*Yarn organization for color knitting (October 29, 2016)

*Zippers in knitwear, the no-sewing way, update! (November 1, 2016)
*Ten years of TECHknitting (November 5, 2016)
*Warning: Politics (November 12, 2016)
*Long Floats in color knitting: modifiying STUART ladderback jacquard for rough-use situations (also STUART gallery, part 2) (November 18, 2016)
*Fastening long floats for invisible stranding--alternatives to the STUART ladderback (November 23, 2016)

*Corrugated ribbing tricks and tips (December 1, 2016)

*TECHknitting blog returns (January 20, 2021)

*Gauge: a mystery of knitting (February 6, 2021)

*Missed Yarnover!  Help! (March 24, 2021)

*Hole in my knitting! Help! (April 21, 2021)







*Celtic knots, improved: Bowen Cross and introducing shortcuts. Infinity Loops, part 2 (October 30, 2022) 

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