Diagnostic Advice

I’d love some feedback re: a problem I’ve had, one that I’d really like to correct! I’ve knit a couple of beautiful cardigans and the center (strip with the buttons) when worn drifts off to one side. I find myself continually fidgeting with it, pulling the straying side at the bottom of the sweater back to the center. Can you help so that I can avoid this happening in the future? Thanks!!!

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This feels like an episode of Car Talk, but can I ask you, are they stockinette cardigans?

Because I find that in some yarns, when I knit plain stockinette, especially in the round but also when I knit it flat, the fabric “biases”–i.e., it is kind of slanted in one direction. I always block this out, but as we know, blocking doesn’t really affect the structure of the knitting, and it can wear off.

I know there is wisdom out there about why stockinette biases for some people–I think it has to do with knitting looser than you purl or something like that? Bueller? HALP!

Does it make a noise when you go above 30 mph? (More Car Talk lol. Miss those guys.)


I miss them, too (the Car Talk guys)! And I’m laughing (like they do) with just the reference!

Yes, it is stockinette stitch and I think you are on to something with the ‘biasing’. I actually posted the question because I was reading the holiday Vogue Knitting mag last night and in the yarn review it talks about particular yarn doing this. I hadn’t heard of that and am now wondering if I should be thinking about that when selecting yarn for a cardigan.

I don’t know much about ‘biasing’ and am wondering if you, Kay, or others might want to expand a little.



I’m afraid you’ve hit the limit of my knowledge but I know I’ve read about this biasing problem before, so hopefully someone will chime in with a reference.

I have only really experienced it as a problem when knitting my beloved Euroflax. I would never knit a plain stockinette sweater in the round with Euroflax; I need the side seams to reduce the biasing. Basically, for a linen top I’d want to break up the stockinette with non-stockinette-based stitch patterns. I haven’t had this problem with wool–my lopapeysas don’t twist even though they are stockinette in the round, for example.

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This is an interesting phenomenon (although so very unfortunate) -

I’ve noticed that sometimes stockinette knitting is looser and longer on one edge - such as a sleeve, which you know has exactly the same number of rows and yet the edges need to be eased to line up from cuff to underarm when assembling.
I’m pretty sure that it has something to do with knitting style and the transition from knit to purl vs purl to knit.
Are the sweaters worked in stockinette? I’d love to help figure this out.

Oh, I see that Kay has asked the same question…

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Although it may have happened with other knits, I’ve only noticed it on the cardigan as the center strip with buttons results in the slant being so obvious. The yarn that I used for the sweater (pattern Milonga) is Mrs. Crosby Steamer Trunk.

Thinking about it, how many cardigans aren’t worked mostly in stockinette stitch?

Thanks for the help!

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I know I’ve read Clara Parker on this in her books. But she may have also discussed it in Twist Collective. If not there, then I’d search Knitty.com since they are likely to have written about it too. Amd of course there is always TechKnitter. Can’t imagine she hasn’t mentioned it.

Sorry I can’t offer real help.

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I believe that the structure of the yarn may contribute to this–how it is spun and plied. I am just learning to spin but I’ve heard bits and bobs about this from friends. Maybe go over to the spinning couch and ask them. They might be able to help.


I’m a new spinner, too. I believe singles yarn tends to bias when knit, because of the twist energy in the singles. Plied yarn is more balanced/stable, because the twist is controlled. It won’t bias the way singles do.


I have one question about your yarn - is it a plied yarn, or a singles?

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I know it has something to do with the structure of stockinette but I am not exactly sure what. It is, as the last poster above mentioned, much more likely to happen with singles yarn than plied, and linen is as you mentioned, also particularly prone to biasing.

However, there is a cure that should be right up your alley - garter stitch. Remember that lovely cardigan pattern you bought at Rhinebeck for your Rhinebeck hand dyed yarn splurge? Make that instead.

Dewey, Cheatham, and Howe, Click and Clack, may you rest in peace.


Four plies, superwash wool.

Well, that is very curious indeed. Let me do some research and see if I can’t find an answer for you. I will post back here :slight_smile:

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I’m now wondering about your button band pick up. Please tell me how you do that.
Also, if you could send a shot of the sway it could be helpful to those of us who really want to solve this problem.

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In a very quick google search I found this - if you scroll down to the segment titled “Hand Knitters Beware!” You will see the answer. I believe your 4-ply yarn has too much twist in it - which is why it is prone to biasing. And, if you made the yarn into a center pull ball and pulled from the center you are actually adding more twist (I did not know this!) Sadly, it appears there is nothing to do to correct this in a finished garment. Wah!:disappointed:


That link is a wealth of info, AsKatKnits, thanks!. I also have bookmarked this: http://www.knittingdaily.com/wp-content/uploads/understanding-yarn-BtB-F2002-1.pdf.


Oh excellent! Thank you for sharing!

Thanks for mentioning linen. I was just thinking of starting a top down in the round linen top mostly stockinette with yarn overs. Niw i am wondering in i need to vary the stitch pattern or find a different pattern one with seams.

Knitting is always an adventure just sometimes unplanned.


Excellent article. Thank you!

And thank you because you’re post made me realize I should check the yarn before frogging the entire front of my After-Dark Nightie (from Mason-Dixon Knitting aka the first book) because I decided it would be better to knit it in the round to ensure that it will fit me.