Knit fabric is an elastic material, made by yarns initially formed into loops and then interconnected in order to produce a textile structure. Knit fabrics do not have a weave. However, the system of weft and warp threads, traditional for other fabric types, is preserved. The feature of knitwear is that it can stretch as you like due to the loops, which can change the size and shape.
The main raw materials for knit fabrics are silk, linen, cotton, wool, viscose, rayon and more. Manufacturers add various synthetic materials to achieve the best combination of quality and durability.
There are two main ways of manufacturing of knit fabrics: warp knitting (vertical set of yarns) and weft knitting (horizontal set of yarns).
The ways differ with the process of knitting. In warp knitting, each thread has its needle and the fabric is knitted in the lengthwise direction (vertically). Weft knitted fabrics are made of one thread interlocked horizontally.
Here are the most popular types of knitted fabrics:
Warp knitted fabrics:
Raschel. The fabric has an openwork pattern and three-dimensional surface effect.
Tricot. The fabric is a mix of natural and synthetic materials. It features lengthwise ribs on the right side and crosswise ribs on the wrong side. Tricot knit fabric is soft and has good drapability.
Milanese knit. The fabric is knitted diagonally from two sets of yarns. It is soft, lightweight and run-resistant.
Weft knitted fabrics:
Jersey or plain stitch. It has two different sides with vertical ribs on the right one and horizontal ribs on the wrong side. The fabric curls towards the right side. Jersey is the most popular type of knit fabrics due to a variety of colors, patterns and useful consumer properties – it is comfy, soft and stretchy.
Interlock. Unlike jersey, both sides of interlock knit are with lengthwise ribs and look the same way. The fabric features good shape retention, medium or heavy weight, smooth texture.
Rib. It has visible vertical ribs on both sides. The fabric features a perfect crosswise stretch and a soft feel.
Purl. The fabric is double-faced and has 2-way stretch (crosswise, lengthwise). It features knit and purl stitches which form columns, going along the length of the fabric.