Skip to content

It has happened to all of us: the annoying hem flip. Above the border and below, no matter what yarn we’re using or which construction method, all knitters struggle with this annoying little feature of our sweaters.

Hi Patty,
Can you please suggest what to do to eliminate the problem of the hem flipping on my project? I am using sport weight superwash wool for a top-down project. I am currently working stockinette stitch but soon have to start the K1P1 rib.

Thanks soooooo much for all your insights and help!

Alberta, Canada

And . . .


I have a problem that has me stumped. My K1P1 rib edgings have a tendency to flip up at the transition from stockinette to rib. Is there a way to prevent this and get that ribbing to behave obediently?


Dear Vicki and Deb,

This is a classic example of “it’s not you, it’s them.” That’s right, it’s the stitches’ fault. When I first started knitting sweaters, I could not understand why this issue seemed to rear its ugly head. I had knit hats, mittens, and socks, all with rib, and this never happened. I mentioned it in a knitting group, and there was just a collective eye roll and shrug, as if to say, “that’s just the way it is.” Well, I’m here to say, it doesn’t have to be!

So why do we see this problem in a hem but not in a sock, hat, glove, mitten, or even a sleeve? The lack of a smooth transition still exists, but it’s less visible when your fabric is stretched over a body part. This is also why that bump can become a flip with a looser hem or a cardigan.

I remember teaching “Patty’s Knitting Bag of Tricks” at a retreat, and I showed the lumpy transition in a sweater hem I had knit years earlier. A knitter raised her hand and said, “May I stand?” “Of course,” I said. She was wearing a cute little striped cardigan, unbuttoned. She stood, holding both of her hands out, palms up, and then dramatically swept both hands in to point to her hem. (Gasp.) It was fully flipped up. She said, “Why?”

Why indeed! Once we know why something is happening, we can figure out how to fix it.

The Flare and Flip

When you work a rib, you are moving your yarn back and forth between the two needles as you knit and purl, causing the yarn to take a longer path than it does when knitting all knit stitches, so you are actually using a bit more yarn than in stockinette. 

So, to avoid your rib flaring and flipping, try using a smaller needle or working a fewer number of stitches, then increase before the stockinette.

I know you’re saying that some patterns specify that, but you still get the flip or the bump? Yep, there’s more to it.

The Lump and Bulge

When purls are stacked vertically, they recede (ribbing), but when they appear horizontally, they stick out (garter). 

So, when you change from rib to stockinette, the purl bumps for the row below will end up sticking out because they don’t have another row of purls above them to make them recede. This causes the rib to “bow out” in the transition:

K1P1 Rib
K3P2 Rib

Two Fixes—When, Why, and How

Now that we know the issues, let’s look at three fixes. They all involve elongating the knit stitches to smooth that transition.

In the MDK Shop
The finest sweater yarn, in our humble opinion, ever.
By Modern Daily Knitting

Fix No. 1: The RS Row Fix (slip)  

This fix works well on garments knit from the top down, but can also be used bottom up. It can be done in any rib. Note: If working flat, you will knit the first and last stitch of the row.

For top-down knitting (stockinette into rib):

  • Slip the knit stitches in the rib as if to purl.
  • Purl the purl stitches in the rib.
  • Starting with the next row, knit the knits and purl the purls.

For bottom-up knitting (rib into stockinette):

  • For the stitches on your needle that sit over a knit from the row below—slip those stitches as if to purl.
  • For the stitches on your needle that sit over a purl from the row below—knit those stitches.
  • (WS) Purl the next row.



Fix No. 2: WS Row Fix (slip)

This is my favorite. It works on both a K1P1 rib, but also a K2P2 or wider. Because it’s done on the last row of the rib on the WS row, you can work your increases on the RS row, as they are in most patterns.

For flat knitting, bottom up. Note: On your last row of rib, you will purl the first and last stitch of the row as usual. For the rest of the row:

  • Slip the purls with yarn in front. Bring the yarn snugly across the front of the slipped stitches and move the yarn to the back.
  • Knit the knits.

For knitting in the round:

  • Slip the knits with yarn in back. Bring the yarn snugly across the back of the slipped stitches and move the yarn to the front.
  • Purl the purls.

This fix will work well only if you bring the yarn fairly tightly across the back of the stitches you’ve slipped. The added bonus is that the float across the back works as a “girdle” that will prevent your rib from stretching out of shape when worked in a yarn that has no memory.

Before K1P1:


After K1P1:

Before K3P2:

After K3P2:

Wait, There’s More

I’ve demonstrated the fixes on stockinette-meets-ribbing. They also apply to other types of borders and hems, like seed stitch or garter. It’s all about the purl bump, so you can try a stitch count change or needle size change (increase for bottom up, decrease for top down). 

To try the slip trick for seed stitch, work it the same as I showed for rib. For garter bottom up: on your last RS row, slip every other knit stitch with yarn in back, then work your first WS row of stockinette. If worked top down, slip every other knit stitch the row before going into the first row of purl (if knit in the round) or knit on WS (if knit flat).

So next time someone says a rib hem just has to have that fold in it, you say “no flippin’ way!”

The Memory of Stitches

Dear Patty,

This isn’t exactly a knitting question, but I guess it sort of is. I am trying to decide whether or not to frog a project that might have too many bad memories in the stitches. My mother was in the hospital with Covid in September. She was in the ICU for over a month and she has been released (thankfully), but she is still so weak. Day after day, I sat in the hospital and knit to keep my mind occupied. Since she’s been home, I haven’t touched that project. I’m afraid of knitting on it again and finding that there are just too many bad memories in those stitches. Does that make sense? Should I rip out, keep going, put it in time out?


Dear Valerie,

It makes perfect sense. I truly believe our stitches hold our memories, but you might be surprised at what memories they’ll hold.

Years ago I was called to grand jury duty. We were required to serve for two weeks, and I was so relieved when I found out I could bring knitting. I decided to finally cast on for Clapotis since it was going to be a fairly mindless knit and I knew I’d be interrupted many times a day. I thought the knitting would just be something that kept me from getting bored, but it was so much more. Serving on a grand jury was one of the most difficult, painful things I’ve ever done. We heard terrible things day in and day out. My knitting became a comfort and the thing that kept me sane before going home each night and collapsing in tears. 

After the two weeks was over, I had bound off and I was afraid that all that pain, violence, and trauma would be stored in those stitches, that I would never be able to wear it without remembering so many awful things. Much to my surprise, what was knit into the stitches was the feeling of the comfort, of the peace that my knitting gave me. That was the memory that was woven into each stitch.

So take your time. You’ll know when you know. But take comfort in knowing that your knitting will always be there for you when you need it.



Patty in your Pocket

Here’s how to save this article in your MDK account with one click.

About The Author

Patty Lyons is a nationally recognized knitting teacher and technique expert. In her pursuit of training the mindful knitter, Patty is known for teaching the “why” in addition to the “how.” She specializes in sweater design and sharing her love of the much-maligned subjects of gauge and blocking.

You can find Patty at her website and on Ravelry.

Do you have a problem you’d like Patty to tackle? Write to her at



  • This was great how to…thanks patty!

  • I have a project still on needles from when my mom was in hospital 5 years ago. She too was a knitter and I was knitting while sitting with her in the ICU. I was knitting when she passed and my husband said to me – “knit her out”. Now every time I see those socks I hear him say those words and it takes me back and I put the socks back in the UFO pile. I think we also channel our pain into our knitting so that it can be put away and dealt with when we are ready.

    • Your observations are so insightful and come at an important time for me. So much is said from the posture of our hands, what they create, what they complete … or cannot at the time. UFOs often come with a story as do hands at rest.

  • Advice on fixing the flip came just in time. I have just finished the body of a sweater that does exactly this. I was thinking, “blocking??” but I’m going to postpone sleeve island and take the time to rip and re-do the last inch of the body. Thanks!!

  • Not just helpful (to say the least!), but empathetic and profound. Thank you, Patty!!

  • Ten years ago my husband went into the hospital for a simple gallbladder surgery that turned into a monthlong ordeal with two surgeries and two ICU stays. I took a small needlepoint project that had been a birthday gift — a cheery flower bouquet in a pot. I finished it during the ordeal, framed it, and then couldn’t stand to look at it, even though he recovered just fine.
    I finally have it to my daughter, who loves it.
    Meantime, thanks for the tipis! I’ve had this problem with edges of sweaters that have narrow bits of ribbing. Annoying!

  • Thank you – the flippy bumpy thing always bugged me and going down a needle size did not entirely fix the problem.
    I served on a murder one trial a couple of years ago. It was tragic – a young man shot his best friend dead when they were drunk and got in an argument. One boy dead and another facing life without parole. I did not knit during the trial but I did knit at night. I poured prayers and my pain into that knitting but the finished product reminds me to pray for everyone involved in this terribly sad case and does not bring back the pain (I was also honored to meet Sister Prejean not long after I served and was blessed that she added the boy who was serving life in prison to her prayer list as well). Your timing is amazing as our local paper just reported this morning that the US Supreme Court is hearing arguments tomorrow on overturning all the split jury convictions in Louisiana on Wednesday. If that happens, my defendant will receive a new trial as we were a split jury so I was thinking about that trial this morning.

  • I was making a pair of socks for a friend and had begun the second sock when my mother had a heart attack. I brought the sock with me when I flew to my hometown to sit with my mother in the ICU, and I finished it while she recovered. Same needles, same yarn, but the second sock was so tight I could hardly pull it over my foot! Clearly, I was yanking at that yarn with more pent up anxiety than I realized.

    • I did the same last winter when my daughter was in hospital, except it was the first sock. I never even tried them on until after I’d finished both! Obviously things were a little less dicey when I knit the second sock. I had to reknit the first one after we came home 🙂

  • I will definitely use this tip for my next sweater because I too hate that hem flip!

    The next topic touched me deeply. When I started in my knitting passion I bought garbage bags full of yarn from an acquaintance that knitted while her daughter fought a long illness and was in the hospital a lot. When her daughter died she couldn’t stand knitting any more and gave it up. We do put a lot of ourselves into our knitting.

    • i relate so much to your friend. two months prior to my mom’s passing of pancreatic cancer, i had her go with me to a knit shop to check it out, give her approval, and tell me if she thought the teachers were good. she heartily approved and two months after she passed i began my knit journey. both my mom and grandmom knit but neither had taught me and i didn’t want it to die out with them; i wanted to be able to pass it down to my (eventual) daughters-in-law and grandchildren. i love it; knitting is my solace. what i realized, though, was that i could no longer do any rubber stamping, which was THE hobby mom and i did together. we’d go to rubber stamping conventions and workshops and had for a decade. however, just picking up a stamp broke my heart. i can barely scrapbook because the two hobbies are tied so tightly together in my mind.

  • Bless you for all of the above.

  • Thanks so much for tips on fixing rib flipping. I am pear shaped so I try to avoid drawing attention to that part of my body. I am about to start the ribbing at the bottom of a top down sweater. If I use one of the techniques described, can I avoid going down a needle size for the ribbing? I want the ribbing to be in line with the body of my sweater and not pull in at my hips. In other word, I’m going for boxy look with no indentation at the bottom.

    • You can cast on some extra stitches to compensate for the ribbing pulling in – KFB in the first row of the ribbing would probably work well as it handily adds a purl-looking stitch.

    • You can for sure skip the needle size change. My husband never likes his ribbing to pull in. Depending on the length of the garment, sometimes to make a garment appear like it was hanging straight, I’ll often add shape to it. For this sweater to appear to be straight, it’s actually shaped to go over the hips:

    • I’ve just finished a sweater that I wanted to fall in a straight line, neither flared nor ‘blouson’. I found that the cast off was most critical to the finished look and I did all sorts (tubular, suspended) before settling on EZ sewn bind off that worked perfectly!

      • This is only for top down knitting. The majority of patterns written are still bottom up seamed garments. But yes, for top down you need to make sure the BO is not too tight.

        • I have knit a few sleeveless sweaters and several had me pick up stitches round the neck, use the live stitches in the middle front, and rib one row of K1P1 before casting off. Those centre front stitches flipped! I think I’ll pull those few rows out and try again! Thank you Patty.

  • I just finished a project last night that is a long sweater with brioche lapels (basically) with a garter stitch back. I decided to add a brioche bottom edge on the garter stitch portion (not what the pattern called for), and I did wonder about the flip. To my surprise, it’s laying nice and flat, but now I know why! The K1, slyo I did to start the brioche edge is basically the equivalent to method 1. I love knowing why that worked!

    • Interesting! Thanks for reporting on the brioche situation. Another reason for me to give brioche a go!

  • That’s interesting. I had never heard of that problem before. Do those fixes make the ribbing draw in? I dislike a ribbing that draws in.

    • I hate a pulled-in ribbing too. I came across a handy piece of advice some time ago, and it has worked very well for me ever since: work the ribbing on ten percent MORE stitches, on needles two sizes SMALLER. So for a top-down sweater, I increase the total stitch count by 10% on the last round before the ribbing, and then change down two needle sizes. For top-up, you may want to increase the total stitches cast on by 10% and then decrease down when the ribbing is over and you’re switching to the larger needle for the body stitches. Voila, the rib doesn’t flip, doesn’t pull in, and doesn’t flare out. I will always defer to Patty’s expertise, but this little trick has always worked very well for me.

    • The nature of ribbing is that it draws in. That’s what it does, so these fixes won’t make it loose it’s function. If you are working with an animal fiber and you want your ribbing to not have it’s elasticity you can block it out.

  • Has anyone tried to fix a finished top down sweater by (1) gathering stitches on the back of the first row of ribbing to effect a decrease, or (2) “sweater surgery” I.e. cuttting off the ribbing to reveal live stitches and reworking?

    • You don’t have to do sweater surgery if it’s top down. If it’s top down, then your hem is your bindoff, so you can just take off the bind off, unravel and put it right back on the needle.

  • Thanks Patty. I can’t quite understand the difference between fix one and fix two. Both seem to slip the stitches that would be knit stitches from the right side, so the yarn would be carried behind in both fixes. Is it just in how snug you make the float?

    • Fix #1 is done on a RS row, so it is, flat / bottom up your first row of stockinette. Fix #2 is done on a WS row, so it is, flat /bottom up: your last row of rib. Like the post says: “Because it’s done on the last row of the rib on the WS row, you can work your increases on the RS row, as they are in most patterns.”

  • Ingenious-thanks!

  • Fantastic explanation about the flip and I will definitely use that …next time. But what about our garments that are already finished? I have a top down boatneck sweater with a garter neckline which transitions into stockinette body, and the barter neckline flips and looks awful. Blocking only helps a little. I’ve considered going in and working a line of crochet along the flip to try to stabilize that or, alternatively, I might try turning the neckline to the inside and hand sewing it in place. Any advice?

    • For sure a line of slip stitch crochet might help. You could also try sewing grosgrain ribbon across the back.

      • Ooh I like the ribbon idea too, thank you!

  • I literally started an email over the weekend to Ask Patty about this very issue!

  • Good timing! I just finished a pair of socks last night (top down), and was a bit non-plussed at the ‘flip’ in the transition from rib to stockinette. I put it down to a very small section of ribbing (10 rows), when I usually do twice as much – this was because it started as a sample for a new sock heel, but I liked it so much I just kept going!
    So thank you Patty, I am about to cast on pair no. 2, using the same methods. Will try Tip No.2 and report forthwith!

  • This is definitely for me a save this article for when-I-come-to-it. So much to remember. Thank you, Patty! As for the jury duty distress, there should be a Patron Saint of Juries. (There’s one for practically everything else.). My own experience was very bland – a suspected embezzler of small amounts of electrical supplies) but for the bigger stuff how far reaching is crime in society that it even affects jurors. Just a sad observation. No political intent (we’ve had enough of that!).

  • I have a shawl I was working on during the summer we were trying to buy our first house. The house that we thought we were going to buy failed inspection. That afternoon, as we were considering walking away from the house and sacrificing the cost of the inspection, I accidentally knit one of the stripes in the wrong color. Now that stripe is a reminder that the house we got instead is so much better for us than the other house would have been.

    I have another shawl that I knit during the months when I was recovering from a concussion. Reading and watching made my head spin, so all I did was knit that shawl while listening to classical music. It helped me heal, and I still feel comforted when I wear it.

  • I don’t understand this, specifically the yarn position: “Slip the purls with yarn in front. Bring the yarn snugly across the back of the slipped stitches and move the yarn to the back.” The yarn is in front, then is pulled snugly across the back, then is moved to the back. How?

    • Your moving the yarn between knits and purls, so your float will end up going across the slipped stitches, then move between the needle tips in position to knit.

  • If you’re slipping the yarn somewhat tightly across the row, will there be a lack of elasticity in that transition?

  • Thanks Patty! Brilliant as always and timely for me. I just finished Caitlin Hunter’s Nordiska, which I love, love, love…..but, i had several issues including the flippen’ hem….which was a problem for a lot of people when I looked through the Ravelry comments. In addition, my gauge swatch had lied and the sweater had less positive ease than i wanted, and despite going up a needle size for the colorwork, it pulled in. I had a lot of extra yarn and no patience for unraveling the bind of and all the colorwork…..So, I channeled my Inner Patty, put in an after thought life line just above the colorwork and cut off the bottom of the sweater with a scissor. I am now in the process of redoing the bottom of the sweater and will use your tip for the top down flipping fix and I’ll link to this post in my Ravelry notes for the project. Patty, as always, you make us all more competent knitters!

  • If the flip is mild and you knitted your garment without seams (i.e. in the round for a jumper or one big piece for a cardigan), adding an EZ faux seam can help.

    I would like to link to a tutorial, but they all have Zimmermann spelt wrong, so I can’t bring myself to do it!

  • Hi Patty

    I am having a bit of difficulty figuring this out. Here are my questions….

    when doing the top down right side rib fix:

    Fix No. 1: The RS Row Fix (slip)

    This fix works well on garments knit from the top down, but can also be used bottom up. It can be done in any rib. Note: If working flat, you will knit the first and last stitch of the row.

    For top-down knitting (stockinette into rib):

    Slip the knit stitches in the rib as if to purl.
    Purl the purl stitches in the rib.

    My question in top down knitting : the first row is actually the first row of the rib so you cannot slip the knit stitch in the rib. I assume you just alternate a slipped stitch with a purl stitch and create the rib pattern that way?

    Do you start with a slipped knit stitch or with a regular knit stitch ( you say the first and last stitches are knit) then purl ,then slip the next stitch purlwise and so on?

    When doing the next (WS) row do you mean continue in pattern ie if the stitch was a knit stitch on the right side row you purl it so continues the knit column on the right side? I am knitting top down. When I continue the rib pattern the first knit stitch in the first row of rib is larger because of the yarn carry even thought I try to make it tight,

    I am sure only my concrete mind would have this problem. I have done a lot of knitting but this has me stumped!

  • Thanks for another excellent demystifying tutorial! I’m a little late to the game, but hopefully this’ll still pop up in your inbox. I’m wondering, in this context:

    “For top-down knitting (stockinette into rib):

    Slip the knit stitches in the rib as if to purl.
    Purl the purl stitches in the rib.
    Starting with the next row, knit the knits and purl the purls.”

    Do you slip as if to purl wyif, or wyib?

  • grazie Patty, molto utile questo articolo. Non l’avevo trovato sul tuo libro meraviglioso dei trucchi, che ho acquistato, ma forse sono io che non l’ho visto. purtroppo faccio un pò di fatica perchè è tutto in inglese e io non l’ho studiato.
    grazie ancora

My Cart0
There are no products in the cart!
Continue shopping