Understanding Knits: Types, Characteristics, and Uses

Understanding Knits: Types, Characteristics, and Uses

Knitting is a versatile craft that allows you to create a wide variety of items, from warm scarves and cozy blankets to stylish sweaters and hats. Whether you are new to knitting or looking to expand your skills, understanding the different types of knits and their uses is essential.

There are several types of knits, including stockinette stitch, garter stitch, ribbing, and seed stitch. Each stitch pattern creates a unique texture and has its own advantages.

The stockinette stitch, for example, is smooth and creates a fabric with a clear distinction between the right and wrong sides. It is often used for garments such as sweaters and t-shirts. Garter stitch, on the other hand, creates a bumpy texture and is commonly used for scarves and blankets. Ribbing is a stretchy stitch pattern that is often used for cuffs, hems, and collars to provide a snug fit. Seed stitch, with its alternating knit and purl stitches, creates a textured fabric that is great for adding visual interest to a project.

Understanding the different uses of these knits can help you choose the most appropriate stitch pattern for your project. If you want a smooth fabric for a sweater, stockinette stitch might be the best option. If you want a bumpy texture for a scarf, garter stitch would be a good choice.

Keep in mind that the type of yarn you choose also plays a role in the look and feel of your knitted item. For example, using a soft, fluffy yarn with garter stitch will create a cozy, warm scarf, while using a smooth, shiny yarn with stockinette stitch will create a sleek and shiny sweater.

Experimenting with different stitch patterns and yarns is part of the fun of knitting. So, grab your needles and yarn, and start exploring the wonderful world of knits!

What Are Knits?

Knits are a type of fabric that are created using a specialized knitting process. Unlike woven fabrics, which are made by weaving together yarns in a perpendicular pattern, knits are made by interlocking loops of yarn.

Knits can be made from a variety of different materials, including cotton, wool, polyester, and blends of these materials. The type of yarn used can affect the characteristics of the knit fabric, such as its stretchiness, warmth, and texture.

There are several different types of knits, each with its own unique properties:

  • Jersey knits: These are the most common type of knit and are often used for T-shirts, dresses, and other lightweight garments. They have a flat, smooth appearance on one side and a textured appearance on the other.
  • Rib knits: Rib knits have vertical ridges or ribs, which give the fabric a stretchy, ribbed texture. They are commonly used for cuffs, collars, and waistbands.
  • Interlock knits: Interlock knits are made with two layers of jersey knit fabric that are interlocked together. This gives the fabric a thicker, more stable structure. Interlock knits are often used for heavier garments, such as sweaters and jackets.
  • French terry: French terry is a knit fabric with loops on one side and a smooth surface on the other. It is known for its moisture-wicking properties and is commonly used for activewear and loungewear.

Knit fabrics have several advantages over woven fabrics. They are generally more stretchy and comfortable to wear, as the loops of yarn allow the fabric to move with the body. Knits are also often more forgiving in terms of fit, as they can stretch to accommodate different body shapes. Additionally, knits are typically easier to sew, as they do not fray like woven fabrics.

Overall, knits are a versatile fabric option that can be used for a wide range of projects, from clothing to accessories to home decor. Understanding the different types of knits and their properties can help you select the right fabric for your project and achieve the desired results.

The Different Types of Knits

When it comes to knitted fabrics, there are several different types that you should be familiar with. Each type of knit has its own unique characteristics and uses. Here are some of the most common types:

  • Jersey Knit: This is one of the most popular types of knits. It is lightweight and has a smooth, flat surface. Jersey knit is commonly used for t-shirts, dresses, and lightweight sweaters.
  • Rib Knit: Rib knit has a distinct vertical pattern due to its raised wales. It has good stretch and recovery, making it ideal for cuffs, collars, and waistbands.
  • Interlock Knit: Interlock knit is heavier and more stable compared to jersey knit. It has two layers of fabric that are knit together, resulting in a soft and sturdy fabric. Interlock is often used for baby clothes, leggings, and activewear.
  • French Terry: French terry has a looped texture on one side and a smooth surface on the other. It is known for its absorbency and moisture-wicking properties, making it popular for activewear and loungewear.
  • Ponte Knit: Ponte knit is a double-knit fabric that has a firm and stable structure. It has a slight stretch and is resistant to wrinkles, making it great for structured garments like dresses and jackets.
  • Double Knit: Double knit is a dense and stable fabric that is knit with two sets of needles. It has a smooth surface on both sides and is often used for sweaters, skirts, and cardigans.
  • Mesh Knit: Mesh knit has an open and breathable structure due to its larger holes. It is commonly used for athletic wear, as it provides ventilation and moisture control.
  • Pointelle Knit: Pointelle knit has delicate and lacy patterns created by small eyelets or holes. It is often used for feminine and delicate garments like tops, dresses, and cardigans.

These are just a few examples of the many types of knits that are available. Each type has its own advantages and is suitable for different purposes. Understanding the characteristics of each knit will help you choose the right fabric for your projects.

Choosing the Right Knit Fabric

Choosing the Right Knit Fabric

When it comes to choosing the right knit fabric for your project, there are several factors to consider. The type of knit, the weight, and the stretchiness of the fabric all play a role in determining how it will behave and how it can be used. Here are some things to keep in mind when selecting a knit fabric:

  • Type of Knit: There are different types of knits, such as jersey, interlock, rib knit, and sweater knit. Each type has its own characteristics and uses. For example, jersey knit is lightweight and has a good amount of stretch, making it suitable for t-shirts and dresses.
  • Weight: Knit fabrics come in various weights, ranging from lightweight to heavyweight. The weight of the fabric affects its drape and how it will feel against the skin. Lighter-weight knits are often used for garments like t-shirts, while heavier knits work well for sweaters or outerwear.
  • Stretchiness: The amount of stretch in a knit fabric can vary. Some knits have a two-way stretch, meaning they stretch horizontally and vertically, while others have a four-way stretch, stretching in all directions. Consider how much stretch you need for your project and choose a fabric accordingly.
  • Fiber Content: Knit fabrics can be made from various fibers, such as cotton, polyester, rayon, or wool. Each fiber has its own characteristics, such as breathability, durability, and ease of care. Consider the properties of the fiber when selecting a knit fabric.
  • Color and Print: Knit fabrics come in a wide range of colors and prints. Consider the desired aesthetic of your project and choose a fabric that suits your vision.

It’s also important to consider how the knit fabric will interact with the pattern you are using. Some patterns are designed specifically for knit fabrics, while others are better suited for woven fabrics. Always check the recommended fabric type in the pattern instructions.

By considering these factors, you can choose the right knit fabric for your project, ensuring that it will not only look great but also perform well and be comfortable to wear.

Common Uses of Knit Fabrics

Knit fabrics are versatile and can be used for a wide range of applications. Some of the most common uses include:

  • Apparel: Knit fabrics are popular in the apparel industry, as they are comfortable to wear and allow for easy movement. They are used to make various types of clothing such as t-shirts, leggings, dresses, and sweaters.
  • Activewear: Knit fabrics with moisture-wicking properties are often used in activewear, such as workout tops, sports bras, and yoga pants. These fabrics help keep the body cool and dry during physical activities.
  • Undergarments: Knit fabrics are commonly used in the production of underwear and lingerie. They provide a stretchy and soft material that is comfortable against the skin.
  • Home décor: Knit fabrics can also be used for home décor purposes. Items such as blankets, pillows, and curtains can be made from knit fabrics to add both comfort and style to a living space.
  • Accessories: Knit fabrics are not limited to clothing. They are also used to make various accessories such as scarves, hats, and gloves. These accessories provide warmth and can be fashionable additions to an outfit.
  • Children’s clothing: Knit fabrics are commonly used in the production of children’s clothing due to their softness and stretch. Items such as baby onesies, pajamas, and rompers are often made from knit fabrics to ensure comfort for little ones.

Overall, knit fabrics are highly versatile and can be used in numerous applications, making them a staple in the textile industry.

Tips for Sewing with Knits

Sewing with knits can be a bit intimidating for beginners, but with the right techniques and tips, it can be a rewarding experience. Here are some tips to help you sew with knits:

  1. Use the right needle: When sewing with knits, it is important to use a ballpoint needle or a stretch needle. These needles have rounded tips that help prevent them from piercing the fabric fibers.
  2. Choose the right stitch: Use a stretch stitch or a zigzag stitch when sewing knits. These stitches allow the fabric to stretch without breaking the thread.
  3. Test before sewing: Before starting your project, it is a good idea to test your stitches on a scrap piece of fabric. This will allow you to adjust the tension and stitch length before sewing on your actual project.
  4. Use a walking foot: A walking foot is a great tool for sewing knits. It helps to feed the fabric evenly through the machine, preventing stretching or puckering.
  5. Use stretchy thread: Consider using a stretchy thread when sewing knits. This type of thread has some give, allowing it to stretch with the fabric.
  6. Use pins sparingly: Instead of using a lot of pins, try using clips or small fabric weights to hold the fabric in place. This will prevent pinning holes in the fabric and make it easier to sew without interruptions.
  7. Press gently: Knits are often sensitive to heat, so when pressing, use a low heat setting or a pressing cloth to protect the fabric. Avoid pressing too hard, as it may cause the fabric to stretch or lose its shape.

By following these tips, you’ll be well on your way to successfully sewing with knits. Remember to practice and take your time to perfect your skills. Happy sewing!

Caring for Knit Fabrics

Proper care and maintenance are essential for prolonging the life of knit fabrics. Here are some tips on how to care for your knit garments:

  • Read the care label: Always check the care label on your knit garments for specific washing instructions. Some knits may require hand-washing or delicate cycles, while others can be machine-washed.
  • Use gentle detergents: When washing knit fabrics, use mild or gentle detergents specifically formulated for delicate fabrics. Avoid using harsh chemicals or bleach that can damage the fibers.
  • Wash in cold water: Opt for cold water when washing knit fabrics to prevent shrinking or stretching. Hot water can cause the fibers to lose their shape and elasticity.
  • Avoid excessive agitation: Knit fabrics are prone to damage when subjected to excessive agitation during washing. Use a gentle cycle or hand-wash to minimize stretching and distortion.
  • Handle with care: Be gentle when handling wet knit fabrics to avoid stretching or pulling them out of shape. Do not wring or twist the fabric to remove excess water; instead, gently squeeze or roll it in a towel.
  • Dry flat: After washing, reshape the knit garment to its original shape and lay it flat on a clean towel or drying rack. Avoid hanging knit fabrics to prevent stretching.
  • Avoid direct sunlight: Excessive exposure to sunlight can cause knit fabrics to fade or become discolored. Dry your knit garments in a shaded area or indoors.
  • Store carefully: When storing knit fabrics, fold them neatly and avoid hanging, as this can cause stretching. Use tissue paper or fabric bags to protect them from dust and moisture.

By following these care instructions, you can keep your knit fabrics looking their best and ensure that they last for a long time.

Knit Fabric Shopping Tips

  • Know Your Project: Before you start shopping for knit fabrics, have a clear understanding of the project you are working on. Consider factors such as the garment or item you will be making, the desired drape, stretch, and weight of the fabric, as well as any special requirements.
  • Consider the Fiber: Knit fabrics are made from a variety of fibers, including cotton, polyester, rayon, wool, and blends. Consider the properties of each fiber and choose the one that best suits your project. For example, cotton knits are breathable and comfortable, while wool knits provide warmth.
  • Check the Stretch: One of the most important things to consider when shopping for knit fabric is the amount of stretch it has. Look for fabrics with both horizontal and vertical stretch, as this will allow for greater flexibility and comfort in the finished garment.
  • Observe the Weight: The weight of the knit fabric will determine its suitability for different projects. Lighter knits are great for summer garments, while heavier knits are suitable for colder weather or more structured items.
  • Inspect the Quality: When shopping for knit fabrics, take the time to inspect the quality of the fabric. Look for even stitches, smooth edges, and minimal pilling or snags. A high-quality knit fabric will be more durable and provide better results.
  • Consider the Pattern: If you are using a pattern for your project, take it with you when fabric shopping. Pay attention to the pattern recommendations for fabric type, weight, and stretch to ensure the best results.
  • Request Fabric Samples: If you are unsure about a particular knit fabric, ask the store for a small sample. This will allow you to test the stretch, drape, and quality of the fabric before making a purchase.
  • Compare Prices: Knit fabrics can vary greatly in price, depending on the fiber, quality, and brand. Take the time to compare prices at different stores or online to ensure you are getting the best value for your money.
  • Ask for Assistance: If you are new to sewing or working with knit fabrics, don’t hesitate to ask for assistance from the store staff. They can provide valuable advice and recommendations based on their experience.

By following these knit fabric shopping tips, you can ensure that you choose the right fabric for your project and achieve the best results in your sewing endeavors.


What are knits?

Knits are a type of fabric that are made by interlocking loops of yarn. They have stretch and flexibility.

What are the different types of knits?

There are several types of knits, including jersey knits, rib knits, interlock knits, and sweater knits.

What are jersey knits used for?

Jersey knits are often used for t-shirts, dresses, and other garments that require a stretchy and comfortable fabric.

What makes rib knits different from other knits?

Rib knits have vertical ridges, or ribs, which give them extra stretch and durability. They are commonly used for cuffs, collars, and other areas that need elasticity.


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