Style Glossary: Knit vs. Weave

Knits and WovensBetween the Can’t Top This Hat and the Fed-aurora Borealis Hat, can you tell which one is knit and which one is woven?

Does the thought of identifying a knit from a woven textile wrap your brain into a ball of confusion? Like analyzing the anatomy of a painting, guessing the make of a fabric from a distance can be just as fuzzy as pointillism until you get up close. In this Style Glossary post (and in celebration of Fashion Week!), we’re taking a magnified look at the three basic types of weaves: plain, satin, and twill. And, we’ll unravel the simple structure of a basic knit!

By comparing and contrasting the blueprints of a woven alongside a knit, you’ll find yourself one stitch closer to becoming a garment-identifying guru!

There are many various types of weaves: momie, basket, pile, leno, jacquard…the list goes on! If you’re thinking ‘jac-what?’ then, don’t worry! We’ll start with the small stuff.

All weaves consist of a warp, the (vertical) lengthwise set of yarns through which the weft (horizontal) is woven through. The following three weaves are the most simple to identify, and are the most common.

Plain Weave: 1:1 construction. One warp passes over and one warp passes under each weft to fill the cloth, producing a checkerboard effect. Some examples of a plain woven fabric include chiffon, and taffeta.

Twill Weave: The construction ratio varies, but it starts with the weft passing over one or more warp threads and passing under one or more warp threads to fill the cloth. Twill weaves are easily identified by diagonal lines, either to the right or to the left with a “step,” or offset at each new row to form the diagonal pattern. Some examples of a twill weave include denim and tweed.

Satin Weave: Satin fabrics have a smooth, shiny surface as a result of four or more weft yarns floating over top a warp yarn, and vice versa. The best example of a satin weave would be, well, satin!

In weaving, the threads are always straight, whereas a knit is distinguished by the interlooping of yarns. A vertical row is known as a course, while a horizontal row of loops in a knit is known as a wale. These loops used to create a knit fabric give it a natural elasticity – that usually isn’t found in a woven unless it is blended with a fiber like spandex to give it stretch. An example is the Can’t Top This Hat featured at the top of this post!

And that’s about ‘knit!’ Hopefully this post helps you solve the missing link when identifying a knit from a woven. Do you have any other tips or tricks that may be of help?


About Julianne

Julie is a modern day Renaissance woman and die-hard bloody mary enthusiast. When she’s not sprinkling magic fairy dust onto ModCloth’s social media channels, you can find her eclectic point of view on food, fashion, music, and DIY documented here!

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  1. Avatar
    Fiona (ModCloth) 09/09/2010 at 4:45 pm #

    I love the woven hat!

  2. Avatar
    Richard (ModCloth) 09/09/2010 at 5:08 pm #

    This post is unbe-weave-ably informative!

  3. Avatar
    Angela 09/09/2010 at 7:19 pm #

    how informative!
    i love all types of weaves! 🙂

  4. Avatar
    Paulette W. 09/10/2010 at 9:54 am #

    Cool post! I always like knit hats more than woven ones. I totally feel like I learned a fashionable lesson 🙂

  5. Avatar
    Ingrid 09/10/2010 at 2:53 pm #

    Oh my! I had no idea, but I have always felt a little bewildered about that.

  6. Avatar
    Al 09/10/2010 at 10:57 pm #

    that hat is probably braided rather than actually woven.

  7. Avatar
    Rawnornanny 07/22/2011 at 8:56 am #

    Hello. And Bye.

  8. Avatar
    essay 07/22/2011 at 10:52 pm #

    Great job, you’ve helped me so much and I am so glad I have chosen your service.

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