What Is a Knit Fabric?

A fabric that’s knit is formed from a series of loops, which make it incredibly stretchy and flexible. It’s also wrinkle-resistant — simply crumple it up into a ball in your hand and it will bounce right back into shape. This versatility is why knits are so commonly used in zipperless, form-fitting clothing pieces like T-shirts, sweaters and hoodies.

Unlike woven fabrics, which are made of warp and weft threads that interlock to create the fabric, knit fabrics are formed from loops of yarn that intermeshing together. These intermeshing loops are referred to as stitches. The number of stitches per unit length is often referred to as the stitch density, or cut (or gauge). The higher the fabric count, the closer the stitches are.

Knitting has several methods of construction, including hand knitting and machine knitting. The method of construction determines the structure of the knit fabric, its appearance, and how it behaves.

Hand-knitted fabric is produced by wrapping the yarn around the index finger of the left hand, then passing it over and under the needles on the right hand as the work is turned from one side to the other. The pattern is created on the outside of the work – the side that the public sees. This is known as continental knitting.

A more advanced technique is to hold the needles in the dominant hands and move the yarn with the fingers. This is called continental knitting and it produces a very different look and feel to the finished work.