knitted hems and edges close up

Q & A: How do I keep my hem from flipping up?

Edges are hard! We want them to be flat and orderly - snug but not tight. It can be asking a lot of just a few rows. Especially because every stitch has certain attributes that can't be entirely stamped out. You can fight it - or you can work with it.

Take stockinette stitch. Anyone else old enough to remember the J Crew roll neck sweater from the 90's? That's all stockinette, which has a natural roll to it. You can do all you want to try to keep it from doing that, but it's just gonna roll. So they made that the style. If embracing the flow isn't going to work for you or your project, here are some tips to tame flipping and rolling edges.


You have many solid choices to pick from depending on your project.

For curling edges like on a shawl:

  • Go up a needle size. This is going to help loosen your stitches which will help loosen a roll.
  • Switch the stitch for the first few rows. Because Stockinette has a natural, inherent roll to the fabric, the only way to avoid that quality is to avoid the stitch.
  • Crochet an edge. This works like changing the stitch pattern but can be done after the fact.
  • Slip the first stitch on the needle. Again, in some instances this can disrupt the natural curving quality of a stitch pattern.
  • Block like a bossBlocking is magic. It won't last forever, but may get you through the day.

For flipping on cuffs like a sweater or hat:

  • Go down a needle size. Tightening the stitches this way will help keep your hem from doing the unwanted.
  • When going from ribbing to stockinette, on the row where the pattern changes, try slipping the knit stitch. Ask Patty from Modern Daily Knitting has a great post on this...
  • Add a few rows of a different stitch. Because stockinette has that pesky natural roll, you will often see it paired with ribbing or something else to keep that from happening. Crocheted edges are also an option as is about any other stitch depending on what you are making.
  • Decrease the number of stitches. Whatever your cuff or edge is, decrease the number of stitches evenly and then then when you change stitch pattern add back in the number you need.
  • Again, block, block, block!


Most patterns will have already taken into account the flipping and rolling issue and should incorporate ways to prevent it. Sometimes our own gauge peculiarities or the yarn or fit issues contribute to the flipping - especially on parts like cuffs. That's when you can get creative and try things to find what works best for you... even if it's a 90s roll neck sweater.

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