Guide to Ribbing

Whether it is used to create a snug fit or just to mix up the texture, ribbing is a welcome addition to many knits. Most commonly, you will see ribbing used as edging on garments like the leg of a sock, waistband of a sweater, hatbands or necklines. Matching the right ribbing to each project can ensure that a garment stays elastic, lays flat, and wears well over time.

K1P1 and K2P2 ribbing are the most commonly used when the knitter wishes to add some elasticity to an edge. The alternating stitches nestle into one another, causing the fabric to gather.

Getting Started

Ribbing Sampler

The greater the number of knits and purls in your alternations, the less snug the ribbing will be. A common trick is to use a smaller needle size when completing the ribbing on a waist, wrist or neck band and then switch to larger needles for the body of the sweater.

When working ribbing in the round, you will need a number of stitches that is divisible evenly by your ribbing sequence. For instance, K2P2 would not fit evenly into 30 stitches. You would need to increase to 32 or decrease to 28 stitches. Otherwise, you would have 4 knits in a row. When working back and forth, just make sure you are knitting and purling the appropriate stitches. If the last row you worked ended with purling, you will begin the next row with knitting. If it ended with knitting, you will begin with purling.

The sampler shown contains, from the top: K4P4 rib, K3P3 rib, K2P4 rib, and K1P1 rib. You can use blocking to loosen the ribbing, as was done to the sampler swatch.

You can create rib with infinite combinations of knit and purl. Make the ribs as wide or as narrow as you like. Experiment and have fun!

Corrugated Ribbing

Corrugated ribbing is a visual treat and well worth the work involved. To create it, you use one color of yarn for the knit stitches and another color for the purls. It can be worked over any number of ribbing combinations but it is important to remember that, due to the stranding that goes on behind the scenes, it does not have the same elasticity as regular ribbing. You must also remember to choose a right side to your ribbing that remains the same throughout so that your stranding doesn’t switch sides and become visible.

Here is an example of corrugated ribbing:

Corrugated Ribbing

How to do it:

Corrugated Ribbing

Knit your first stitch, then bring the second color of yarn forward for your purl stitch(es).

Corrugated Ribbing

Return the second color of yarn to the back of the work and pick up the first color again to return to knit stitches.

K2P2 Ribbing

K2P2 Ribbing

k2p2 ribbing is a common knitting technique with many applications. It is easy enough for beginners to make and can be used to create texture or to provide some elasticity to a waist band, cuffs, or knitted caps.

The ribbing is created by alternating 2 knit stitches with 2 purl stitches. If you are knitting in the round, you will just continue in this manner until your section of ribbing is as long as you need it to be. If you are knitting flat, you will need to knit your purl stitches and purl your knit stitches on the wrong side of the piece.

Twisted Rib

Twisted rib is used to provide a firm, elastic ribbing on a knitted item. Over an even number of stitches, twisted rib can be completed as follows:

K2P2 Ribbing

Flat knitting:

Row 1 (RS): *K1 through back loop, P1. Repeat from * to end of row.

Row 2 (WS) : *K1, P1 through back loop. Repeat from * to end of row.

Repeat Rows 1-2.

Knitting in the round:

Round 1: *K1 through back loop, P1. Repeat from * to end of round.

Repeat Round 1.

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