A Glossary (in Progress)

I'm building a glossary of terms related to sweater knit fabrics as there's much misinformation on the web. My point of view will probably slip in here and there, but I'll try to stay on target. :)

I'm starting with terms that I've defined previously on this blog, which gives me the chance to correct or clarify some items. I'll continue from there. Eventually, I'll move this glossary to a permanent page. Newsflash! The Knit Fabric Glossary has been updated and has a new location! If you'd like a definition for a term that hasn't been added yet, please ask in the comments. If I don't know the answer, I'll try to find out. If you see something that needs to be corrected, please contact me. Thanks! I hope people will find this helpful.

Cut and sew knitwear -- Knitwear that is constructed much the way woven garments are made. The garment pieces are cut out of already knitted fabric. The pieces are then sewn together to create the garment. It's a technique that's often used industrially and is also accessible to anyone with a sewing machine.

Double knit -- A very stable, balanced rib fabric that looks like two jersey fabrics glued together, though it's not really constructed that way at all. The double knits of the 70s gave the category a bad rep because they were made of polyester, but there are several gorgeous double knits being produced today. The example below is 100% merino wool.
This may look like a jersey, but the reverse looks exactly the same; it's a double knit. If you were to give it a good stretch sideways, you'd see the ribs.

Fully fashioned knitwear -- Each piece of the garment is shaped as it's knitted and then sewn together to create the garment. Increases, decreases and short rows are the methods most often used to shape the pieces. Hand knitters and those who use hand knitting machines often work this way. Many industrial machines can be programmed to use this method to shape the pieces of a garment.

Jersey fabric -- One face of the fabric has knit stitches (V-shaped stitches) and no purl stitches. The other face has purl stitches and no knit stitches. (A purl stitch is simply the back side of a knit stitch.)  The edges cut across the stitches roll toward the knit side. The selvages (and edges cut parallel to selvages) roll toward the purl side.
Rib fabrics -- Each wale (column of stitches) has either knit stitches and no purl stitches, or it has purl stitches and no knit stitches. Sweater cuffs are often, but not always, rib fabrics. Double knits also fit into this category, though it may be hard to see the actual ribs unless you stretch the fabric. Balanced rib fabrics do not roll.
A 3 x 2 rib fabric
Whole garment knitting -- (Also called seamless knitting) A way of manufacturing knitted garments on specially designed, advanced industrial knitting machines. (Santoni, Shima Seiki, and Stoll are three well-known brands.) The garment is created in one piece without seams with this method. Hand knitters who create garments totally on circular needles do a hand crafted version of this.

Well, it's just a start! I hope to add items weekly. There's a long way to go....



  1. Quick easy adds for you. Knit, Purl, and Wale. You've basically already defined them in the above, but they could easily have their own entries.

    1. Thanks, Andrea! I'll add them to the list and define them later this week.

  2. What an undertaking, but thank you so much for starting a glossary. It's definitely very helpful!

    1. I've decided to only add a word or two a week, so it doesn't become overwhelming. Glad you find it helpful! :)

  3. I love to read about apparel glossary terms. Once I have bookmarked a page now sharing with you people.


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