What is a Wale in knitting?

In knitting the Wale is the vertical row of stitches running down the length of the fabric. The wales of the fabric differ depending which type of knitting is used. In warp knitting, each wale has its own yarn, meaning that the number of wales dictates the number of yarns used. This also decides how wide the fabric will be. In warp knitting the width of the fabric cannot be changed whilst the knitting is in process as whole rows of yarns would have to be eliminated.

In weft knitting, the wales also run vertically down the fabric, but they are produced in rows going horizontally across the fabric. This means that the fabrics can have the width changed as they are being produced, as many times as they like, resulting in what is called ‘Fully fashioned garments.’ These garments do not need to be cut out of the fabric because armholes and neckholes can be made during the knitting process. This means less waste and easier construction.

The number of wales in a piece of fabric dictates the length of that specific type of fabric, the higher the number, the longer the piece of fabric. A wale is a loop in the fabric that is connected both to the loop above it and the loop below it. In general weft machine knitting, each needle that is in use produces a wale in the fabric. Two wales can be combined into one to narrow the piece of knitting, or the wales can be spread out between needles, usually weaving a needle with no wales on until the next row of stitching. This widens the fabric.

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Written by Kelly Mitchell

Kelly Mitchell, extremely competent and reliable, she is currently in her third year at the University of Lincoln UK, studying Fashion. Kelly is responsible for the Fabrics, Fibers and Leathers sections of our Dictionary

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