A knit fabric with vertical ridges on both faces made by alternating two wales drawn to the face and two wales drawn to the back of the knit, a process further described under rib knits.
A knit fabric with vertical ridges (ribs) alternating on the face and reverse. 1 × 1 alternating with 2 × 2 is known as accordion rib, further described under rib knits.
A jersey knit named for the town in Ireland where it was first made, balbriggan may be cotton, wool or a blend. It often has a soft, napped reverse. Balbriggan—or just bal—is also the name given to underwear made of it.
Uses: Underwear, including long underwear
A double knit fabric with a ribbed or corded look on its face.
Double knit, doubleknit
The now-defunct British chemical company Imperial Chemicals Industries Ltd. (ICI) developed and trademarked Crimplene in the 1950s. The thick polyester yarn is called Crimplene as is fabric made from this yarn. The yarn can be woven, but was most usually seen in a double knit. Crimplene fabric is heavy, wrinkle-resistant, wash-and-wear and easy to sew. The decade of the 1960s was Crimplene’s heyday (it made many an A-line dress) with lighter-weight polyester beginning to supersede it in the early 1970s.
Crimplene may have been named after the Crimple Valley which is near the ICI Laboratory where the fiber was developed. It has also been suggested that it is a name compounded from crimp (as in the crimp of the yarn) and Terylene, ICI’s trademarked polyester fiber.
A group of weft knits made with two sets of needles and two sets of yarns, creating two fabrics that are knit together into a single fabric. Double knits may be of various weights, textures and styles, although they are all more stable than single knits. They may be made of any yarn.
Uses: Suits, slacks, skirts, sportswear
A double knit fabric with a honeycomb texture.
Also sometimes called double jersey, although inaccurately since interlock is not a jersey knit. It is, however, a type of double knit with two yarn feeds and sets of needles—creating fine (1 × 1) ribs on both sides of the fabric, interlocked together. As compared to jersey, which has an obvious reverse, interlock looks the same on both sides. It is more stable, and stretches lengthwise as well as widthwise. Its raw edges don’t curl.
Interlock knits can be of cotton, blends or manufactured fibers.
Uses: T-shirts, sportswear, nightgowns, pajamas, dresses, skirts
Either a single or double knit made with a pattern on its face, achieved with jacquard controls on a knitting machine. Any yarn may be used.
The single knit jacquard will have floats across its back, while the back of a double knit jacquard will have a birdseye pattern.
A jacquard pattern may also be knitted by hand.
Jersey (also called single knit) is the simplest plain knit fabric, with two distinct sides. The face has vertical ribs while the reverse has horizontal rows. Sometimes the fabric is used with the technical back on the outside.
Jersey can be light to heavy and made of any natural or manufactured fiber, although originally wool. It gets its name from its history of being made on the island of Jersey, in the Channel Islands off the English coast, and traditionally used for fishermen’s garb.
Uses: Wide range from socks, underwear and sleepwear, to day wear and sportswear, to evening gowns
Lisle is made of long-staple, 2-ply cotton yarn, tightly spun, singed to remove any protruding fibers, and glazed or polished for smoothness. Lisle is both this thread and a plain stitch knit made of such thread.
Originally made of linen, the name likely comes from Lille, France, a linen center.
Uses: Underwear, gloves and hosiery
The raschel knitting machine was developed in the 19th century as an inexpensive way to produce lace. The machine was named after the very popular 19th century French actress Elisabeth Rachel Félix—better known as Mademoiselle Rachel—who was known for wearing lace. Her name was altered to the German spelling as the Raschel knitting machine was refined in Germany.
Raschel knits range widely in style and use. They are warp knits of a heavier weight than the warp knits made on a tricot machine. Raschel knits are also often characterized by vertical chains of stitches on which a pattern is created.
Gimp “braid” (braid used in the sense of a narrow trim) is made on a raschel type of knitting machine, as is power stretch fabric.
Uses: Depending on the weight and style, uses for raschel knits range from sheer lace to coats, trim to foundation and athletic compression garments.
A group of knit fabrics with vertical ridges—called ribs—alternating on the face and reverse. The rib knits are further defined by the width of the ribs.
Wales alternate on both sides of the knit (rib stitch), created by two rows of needles—one knitting wales on the face, the other on the reverse. Plain rib is 1 × 1; 2 × 2 rib (also called Swiss rib) is made with 2 wales drawn to the face and 2 wales drawn to the back. Shaker rib or shaker stitch is a plain rib of heavier yarn. 1 × 1 alternating with 2 × 2 is known as accordion rib. Poor boy rib is 2 × 3 or 3 × 1.
Made of any fiber and in a variety of weights, all rib knits are to varying degrees thicker and more insulating than plain knits. They also have the kind of elasticity that makes a good choice for cuffs and waistbands. They are more expensive to produce than plain knits.
Uses: Sweaters, details (such as sleeve cuffs) of sweaters and woven-fabric items, socks, underwear
2 × 2 rib knit
Shaker rib or shaker stitch is a knit which has vertical ridges (ribs) made by alternating one wale drawn to the face with one wale drawn to the back of the knit (a 1 × 1 rib knit—the process is further described under rib knits). It is knit of heavier yarn.
Made on a tricot machine, simplex is a firm knit that shows plain stitch knits on both sides, instead of tricot’s zigzag reverse.
Uses: For gloves, cotton simplex is used after shrinking and sueding. It is heavier than tricot, generally, and appropriate for bottom weight and more tailored items of clothing.
A relatively recent fabric (early 1930s), sweatshirt fleece is a circular weft plain stitch knit with a napped reverse side, meant to keep athletes—and others—warm. The fabric is knit of cotton or a cotton blend.
Uses: Sweatshirts and other sportswear
A plain stitch knit fabric with a set of yarns pulled out on the technical back to form loops, as in woven terry cloth. Unlike woven terry, the loops are only on one side, and the fabric stretches.
Terry knit is usually made of cotton and cotton blends, also manufactured fibers. It probably was originally made of silk.
Uses: Sportswear, loungewear, sleepwear, children’s clothing
Tricot is a warp knit characterized by vertical wales on one side, and horizontal zigzags on the other. While the vertical wales are technically on the face, either side may be the face of the fabric in use.
Originally silk, and now mostly made of manufactured filament fibers (nylon or polyester), tricot has some horizontal give, little vertical give. It will not ravel or run. The name comes from the French tricoter, “to knit.”
Uses: Light to heavy in weight, tricot is used for lingerie, day and evening wear