How To Rib Knit – Rib Knit Stitch Made Easy

Learn how to rib knit! When reading a knitting pattern, you will often find that each segment of your garment starts with “knit a 2 inch rib” or something similar. You will also begin your garment with finer needles for that rib. This is because that rib gives your garment more elasticity to keep it hugging closely to your body and to keep the cold draughts out! It also gives the garment a nice stretch to fit over wider parts of the body, and it gives a nice neat finish to the garment. To be able to work rib knit stitch, you need to know how to knit both knit and purl stitches.

How to Rib Knit StitchPin
How to Rib Knit Stitch

What Is Rib Knit Stitch?

Rib knit stitch is a knitting pattern that gives the appearance of vertical columns of stitches. It is made by working columns of knit stitches alternating with columns of purl stitches. The advantage of using this stitch is that it gives extra elasticity to your knit fabric as well as being a reversible pattern.

The most common type of rib is called 1×1 rib, which means 1 stitch of knit, and 1 stitch of purl. Your columns are thus made up of single rows of knit and purl stitch. There are, however many variations of rib stitch!

What Is Rib Knit Stitch Used For?

This very useful stitch pattern is most commonly used for cuffs on sleeves, mittens, socks, and hats. It can also be used to create a hem or a waistband on a knitted sweater or garment. It can even be used as an all-over pattern when you want a reversible fabric or an especially elastic fabric.

Learn how to knit a hat that includes a rib knit brim.

Rib Knit Used on the Brim of a HatPin
Rib Knit Used on the Brim of a Hat

Stitches Used in Rib Knit Stitch

Knitting rib stitches use 2 common techniques – a knit stitch and a purl stitch. Here is a refresher on how to knit these. They differ in how the right needle is inserted into the stitch. A knit stitch goes from front to back and a purl stitch goes in back to front.

How to Knit Stitch

  • After casting on, the stitches should be on the left needle.
  • Insert the right needle into the first stitch – left to right, front to back.
  • Yarn over the needle clockwise.
  • Pull the yarn back and through.
  • Slip the original stitch off the left needle. There is now one stitch on the right needle.
How to Rib Stitch - The Knit StitchPin
How to Rib Stitch – The Knit Stitch

How to Purl Stitch

  • After casting on, the stitches should be on the left needle.
  • Insert the right needle into the first stitch – right to left, back to front.
  • Yarn over the needle counter-clockwise.
  • Pull the yarn back and through.
  • Slip the original stitch off the left needle. There is now one stitch on the right needle.
How to Rib Knit - The Purl StitchPin
How to Rib Knit – The Purl Stitch

How To Rib Knit Tutorial

Let’s start with the simplest rib stitch, 1 x 1 rib. This is also called a single rib.

How to Rib Knit Abbreviations

How to Rib Knit Materials Needed

If using the rib stitch as a cuff, you will generally use the same yarn as the rest of the garment, but knitted with smaller needles, to make it pull in tightly. If using the rib stitch as an all-over stitch pattern, you can simply use the recommended needles for your chosen yarn, as stated on the ball band of the yarn.

Step 1 – Cast On for Rib Stitch Instructions

This is a matter of personal choice. You can use the easy ‘wrap’ or ‘thumb’ method to cast on and then begin your rib stitch when working the first row. Or, for a neater cast on, you can use the ‘cable’ method, alternating knit and purl stitches. Learn how to cast on knitting.

  • Start with a slip knot on the LH needle. (This is equal to your first knit stitch.)
  • Insert RH needle, purl-wise, into slip knot, create a purl stitch, and place it onto LH needle.
  • *Move yarn to the back of the needles.
  • Insert RH needle from the front, between the 1st and 2nd stitches, wrap yarn as for a knit stitch, pull through, and place on LH needle.
  • Bring yarn forward.
  • Insert RH needle from behind, between the latest 2 stitches on the LH needle, wrap yarn as for purl, pull through, and place stitch on LH needle.

Repeat from* until you have the required number of stitches.

How to Cast on for Rib Knit StitchPin
How to Cast on for Rib Knit Stitch

Step 2 – How to Rib Knit the First Row

All the stitches are on the LH needle.

Your stitches must be worked in a repeating pattern to form vertical columns. So if your last cast-on stitch was done purl-wise, you must now knit it. If the last cast-on stitch was done with a knit stitch, you must now purl it.

If you cast on using the wrap/thumb method, start with a knit 1.

Work, alternating k1, p1 all the way across the row.

How to Rib Knit - First RowPin
How to Rib Knit – First Row

Step 3 – How to Rib Knit the Second Row

Turn your work again.

  • If you have an odd number of stitches, you must now start with p1.
  • Then k1, p1 across the row.
  • If you have an even number of stitches, just repeat k1, p1 across the row.

Step 4 – How to Rib Knit More Rows

Continue with this pattern. The easiest way to check the columns is to look at the stitches from the previous row and work them as they appear. So if the stitch has av shape of ak stitch, knit it, if it has the rounded bump of ap stitch, purl it.

How to Rib Knit - More RowsPin
How to Rib Knit – More Rows

Step 5 – Changing To Other Stitches

Once you have completed your rib, it is time to change to the stitches required for the rest of the garment. You will now change to larger needles, too.

Change to the larger needle as your RH needle.

If you are working in stockinette stitch, you can simply start knitting across all your rib stitches, then turn, pick up your other larger needle, and purl across all the stitches.

If you want a neater transition from rib to the main fabric, you must work across the row with any stitch above a knit column you slip it onto the RH needle. Any stitch above a purl column, you knit it onto the RH needle.

Then turn and purl across the next row, and continue knitting as normal from thereon.

How to Rib Knit and Change StitchPin
How to Rib Knit and Change Stitch

Step 6 – Casting off In Rib Stitch

You may be tempted to simply cast off knit wise, but then that final binding of your knitting will not have the required stretch and elasticity. It also gives a neater appearance if you actually cast off in rib stitch.

As you begin casting off, cast the stitches off just as you find them. So for a 1 x 1 rib:

  • Knit the 1st stitch, then work a purl stitch and pull the knit stitch over the purl stitch.
  • Move the yarn to the back, knit the knit stitch, and pull the purl stitch over the knit stitch to bind it off.
  • Move the yarn to the front, work purl stitch, pull the knit stitch over it, and so on.

Rib Stitch Knitting Patterns

Rib stitch can be done in any combination of knit and purls to get different looks and effects. The 1:1 rib tends to be the stretchiest.

How to Rib Knit Stitch PatternsPin
How to Rib Knit Stitch Patterns

1 x 1 Rib (Single Rib)

  • Row 1: *k1, p1. Repeat from * to end of row.
  • Row 2 and following rows: Knit the purl stitches and purl the knit stitches of the previous row.

2 x 2 Rib (Double Rib)

Must have an even number of stitches when casting on.

  • Row 1: *k2, p2. Repeat from * across the row.
  • Row 2 and following rows: Knit the purl stitches and purl the knit stitches of the previous row.

4 x 4 Rib Stitch:

Must have a multiple of 4 stitches when casting on.

  • Row 1: knit 4, purl 4 across the row.
  • Row 2 and following rows: Knit the purl stitches and purl the knit stitches of the previous row.

Uneven Rib Stitch Pattern

As you can see, you can choose any number of knit and purl stitches for your rib. If you are using the rib as an all-over pattern it looks very attractive to have an uneven number of knit and purl stitches. One of the most commonly used is the 7 x 3 rib. Of course, you can alter this as you please!

For this one, you need a multiple of 10 stitches.

  • Row 1: * k7, p3. repeat to end of row.
  • Row 2: * k3, p7, repeat to end of row.

Rib Stitch Variation – Fishermans Rib Stitch

There are many variations of the rib stitch, but one of the most popular is the Fisherman’s rib. This stitch is great for an all-over rib pattern garment. It makes a very loose, springy rib with lots of texture.

To work it:

  • Cast on an even number of stitches.
  • Row 1: purl
  • Row 2: * p1, k next stitch into the row below, allowing the old stitch to drop from the needle.
  • Repeat from* to last 2 stitches, p 2.
  • Repeat only row 2 to form the pattern.
How to Rib Knit - Fisherman'sPin
How to Rib Knit – Fisherman’s

Trouble Shooting Rib Stitch

What can go wrong with rib knitting? Here are some common problems and solutions:

  1. You don’t have neat columns of stitches – You may be purling some of the knit stitches, and knitting some of the purl stitches. Remember that these stitches are the reverse of each other, so where you have knit on the previous row, you must purl on the current row. And vice versa.
  2. You have loops of yarn across your columns – Remember to keep moving your yarn from front to back The yarn must be at the front for purl stitches, and at the back for knit stitches.
  3. The rib looks untidy and uneven – Be sure to keep the tension even between the knit and purl stitches. Don’t allow the tension to become slack when moving the yarn from front to back between the stitches.

Rib Stitch Scarf Project

Scarves generally look nicer when they are reversible, and because rib stitch contracts the fabric, it is warmer than other stitches – so this makes rib stitch perfect for a scarf. 2 x 2 rib stitch works well for a scarf.

Supplies

You will need worsted weight yarn and size 6-8 needles. (4-5 mm)

How to Make a Rib Stitch Scarf

Your scarf can be as wide or as narrow as you wish.

  • Start by casting on 36 stitches, and see if that suits you. If you want it wider, cast on more. Keep to an even number.
  • Work in 2 x 2 ribs until your scarf is the length you choose.

Averages sizes for scarves:

  • Neck warmer: Just long enough to go around your neck and tuck into a jacket or coat – these are usually around 18-30” (45-75cm) long and 4-15” (10-38cm) wide.
  • Half wrap scarf: Goes around the neck once with a tail to the front and back. These are usually 30-60” (76-153cm) long and 10-15” (25-38cm) wide.
  • Full wrap scarf: These are designed to wrap around the neck multiple times, and still leave tails. Because of this they are generally narrower, around 6” (15cm) wide, and are 72-80” (183-203cm) long.

How to Rib Knit – In Conclusion

Now you have learned a lot about how to rib knit, you can try your hand at various types of ribs and can then explore the huge number of variations of rib stitch and experiment with those too! You really don’t have to follow a pattern exactly, word for word. if you want a different design of rib for your garment, go for it! If you can knit the basic 1 x 1 rib, you can easily extend the rules for that to something complex like a spiral rib! Rib stitch rocks!

How to Rib Knit, Rib Knit StitchPin

How to Rib Knit

Learn how to rib knit with this easy step by step tutorial.

Print
Pin

Difficulty: Easy Beginner

Keyword: Knitting

Instructions

1×1 Rib

  • Row 1: *knit 1, purl 1. Repeat from * to end of row.

  • Row 2 and following rows: Knit the purl stitches and purl the knit stitches of the previous row.

2×2 Rib

  • Row 1: *knit 2, purl 2. Repeat from * to end of row.

  • Row 2 and following rows: Knit 2 for the purl stitches and purl 2 for the knit stitches of the previous row.

Leave a Comment