The simplest rib stitch patterns

Rib stitch is a knitting stitch pattern built up of columns of knit and purl stitches that produces a stretchy fabric that doesn’t curl, useful for example cuffs. 

This technique is commonly used in knitting, especially for garments like hats, socks and sweaters to stop the knit fabric from rolling and add elasticity.

There are a variety of rib stitch patterns, from the most common ones are the simple but effective like the 1+1 rib (one knit, one purl) to the more complicated ones with lace patterns added.

What defines ribbing is the elasticity achieved by alternating columns of knit and purl stitches.

Below you can see some examples of knitting patterns that make use of this simple technique in different ways, you’ll see that ribbing is a versatile stitch!

Patterns that use ribbing

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This jumper by Susan Crawford makes good use of ribbing for the shaping and the rib also adds an interesting striped texture pattern.

The pattern is called Sun Ray Ribbing Sweater and you find the pattern as an instant download at LoveCrafts.

Recommended yarn is Susan Crawford Excelana 4 Ply, but of course, you can knit it in any yarn you like in the right weight. Like one of these 4-ply / Fingering yarns!

This basic hats are knitted in double rib stitch and are a great example of what you can achieve with a basic stitch like ribbing!

It’s piece of cake to knit up one of these hats, and you could use any colors you prefer to make it your own style!

The pattern is from Caron and you find it as a free download at LoveCrafts. The yarns suggested are Caron Simply Soft,
Caron Simply Soft Collection, and
Caron Simply Soft Paints but of course any worsted weight yarn will do!

In this cardigan independent knitwear designer Stephanie Lau has used double ribbing in a more common way, for the cuffs and bottom hem.

I really like this cardi, few things have a higher coziness level than a thick and warm cardigan. And this one manages to be stylish as well!

The pattern is called The Downtown Cardigan and is knit in mostly garter stitch in chunky yarn, this is a quick knit!

When to use ribbing stitch patterns

As you just saw ribbing can be used for different reasons in knitting. The elasticity and elegant look of the stitch make it a classic pattern.

Ribbing stitch patterns are used to add elasticity to your knitting. Examples are sock legs or the cuffs of a sweater. Rib stitch is also used for the brim of hats, and other things that benefit from a bit of stretch.

Another use for ribbing is to stop knits from curling at the edges. This is useful for knitting necklines and hems. 

But, ribbing is not all about practical details, it also looks nice and can be added as a neat detail to a garment!

Or why not knit a whole sweater in rib stitch? A simple 1+1 rib stitch sweater is elegant and classic, easy to knit, and always in fashion!

Knit ribbing variations

There’re lots of varieties of rib stitch patterns, like the more simple 1+1 and 2+2 that’s decorative and stretchy. Others are more intricate rib stitch patterns with beautiful lace patterns or other types of stitch patterns added.

How to knit rib stitch

This video shows how to knit the even and double rib stitches flat. For more information about this keep on reading, I go through this is writing further down as well!

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Single rib (1+1 rib) stitch knitted flat on straight needles or circulars

This is the easiest and most common kind of ribbing. It’s elastic and looks nice. 

Cast on an even number of stitches with the long tail cast-on

You could actually do this with an odd number too, but if you use an even number you can will begin every row with a knit stitch. This is better for beginners as it’s easier to remember than to start every other row with a purl stitch. 

Knit one stitch, then purl one stitch. Continue working this way to the end of the row and turn your work over. 

Now look at your work, you should purl the purls and knit the knits. 

The stitches you knit on the previous row, are purl stitches on this side and shall be purled. These are the ones with a little bump on them. 

The stitches you purled on the previous row are knit stitches on this side and shall be knit. These are the ones looking like V:s. 

The pattern looks like this:

Cast on an even number of stitches

Row 1: *K1, P1*, repeat *–* across the row
Repeat row 1 until your desired length. 

Single rib (1+1 rib) stitch knitted in the round on circular needles

The 1+1 rib stitch is the easiest of the ribbing stitches. It’s easy to remember the pattern repeat (knit one, purl one), it’s easy to knit and the result is neat and stretchy!

And, it’s no harder to do it in the round than flat. Cast on an even number of stitches, join in the round and get started with round and round of knit one, purl one. It’s a good idea to place a marker at the join so you know where the beginning of your round is!

If you need help with casting on and joining in the round I have a tutorial here!

The pattern looks like this:

Cast on an even number of stitches

Round 1: *K1, P1*, repeat *–* the whole round
Repeat round 1 until your desired length. 

Double rib (2+2 rib) stitch pattern knitted flat on straight needles

This stitch pattern is almost as easy and stretchy as the 1+1 ribbing, but it looks slightly different.

The 1+1 ribbing almost looks like a stockinette stitch when it’s not stretched out while the 2+2 ribbing has a more visible stripe to it and adds another style to a garment.

The pattern looks like this:

Cast on in multiples of 4

Row 1: *K2, P2*, repeat *–* across the row
Repeat row 1 until desired length

Double rib (2+2 rib) stitch pattern in the round on circular needles

Cast on in multiples of 4 and join in the round

Round 1: *K2, P2*, repeat *–* across the round
Repeat round 1 until the desired length

Knit rib stitch in the round on circular needles

It’s not harder to knit ribbing in the round on circular needles than flat on.

Cast on your stitches, and join in the round as usual. Then follow your pattern for the first round, for example, *K2, P2*. 

When the first round is finished, continue to knit the knit stitches and purl the purl stitches for as long as you need.

This applies to all ribbings built up of alternating columns of knit and purl stitches. For more intricate patterns that use increases and decreases of more rows than two, you have to translate the pattern from flat knitting to circular. 

If you need help with how to cast on for knitting in the round, you can learn more about that here: Tutorial: How to knit in the round on circular needles

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