One by one, I numbered each fabric, measured how much I have and then I placed two pins 5cm apart on the crosswise grain (doubled-over, perpendicular to the selvage) and stretched the fabric along the gauge. Then I did the same on the lengthwise grain (again doubled over).
Stable KnitsI have two "stable knits" in my stash. Stable knits are treated like woven fabrics. They do not require the pattern to be adapted to accommodate for the ease or stretchiness of the fabric.
From the most stable to the most stretchy...
I nicknamed this category "super-stretch-100". Knit fabrics with a stretch factor of 100% in both directions (crosswise and lengthwise) are a category unto themselves! I just have one of these in my stash: white with navy stripes which used to be a t-shirt... and which has suffered slight pink discolouration from a washing machine adventure with something naughty and red.
Super-stretchyI have 7 super-stretchy fabrics. Some of the fabrics, however, are equally stretchy in both directions, albeit not quite as stretchy as "super-stretch-100"!
This fabric, a deep tomato red which used to be a dress, has 100% crosswise stretch and 85% lengthwise:
I think it's fascinating what a big difference there is in the crosswise stretch of each of these fabrics. The red fabric is definitely a "two-way-super-stretchy" knit whereas the grey fabric is simply a "super-stretchy" knit.
More Two-way Super Stretchy knits
More Super-Stretchy (but not two-way)
Recovery is when the fabric "bounces" back to it's original shape - in the test I'm doing the pin placed at 5cm which had been stretched would either bounce back to the 5cm mark quickly (="good recovery") or would be slow to unstretch. As a rule of thumb, fabrics with poor recovery should not be used to make clothes - they become saggy quickly.
So am I any wiser?
This has definitely helped me to understand knits a bit better. I'm not sure yet how to put the information into practice but it is good to have the knowledge to hand and to have got "stuck in" with knits in this way.