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Lesson 4: How to Knit Ribbing for Beginners

Lesson 4: How to Knit Ribbing for Beginners

Inside: How to knit ribbing using knit and purl stitches. Includes video tutorial, ways to use ribbing and types of rib stitches.

If you like socks that stay up, hats that don’t slip over your eyes or never got over your love affair with leg warmers from the 80’s then you are already familiar with ribbed stitch patterns.

Ribbed stitches are used most often on hat brims, sweaters cuffs and necklines, and sock cuffs.

When you want stretch you want ribbing!

Ribbing isn’t just one stitch pattern.

The “ribs” are vertical columns of knit stitches and purls stitches. You can combine those columns in many ways to create different rib stitch patterns. The most common ones are 1 x 1 and 2 x 2.

“Wait, what? Numbers, Kristen?”

When you see 1 x 1 the first number refers to the number of columns of knit stitches and the second number is columns of purls.

Because you can combine the columns of knits and purls many ways I need to talk about multiples.

how to knit ribbing rib stitch comparison
Rib stitch variations: (left to right) 2 x 2, 1 x 1, 3 x 3, 3 x 1

When a stitch pattern talks about multiples it refers to how many stitches you work before you start to repeat the pattern. In a 1 x 1 rib you knit one stitch then purl the next so you repeat it every 2 stitches. A 2 x 2 rib has you knit 2 then purl 2 so the multiple is 4 stitches.

To figure out your multiple just add the number of knit columns and purl columns.

You may be asking why multiples matter?

Well, to put it plainly you need to make sure that the number of stitches you are knitting (especially in the round) is divisible by your multiple. Uneven ribbing like 2 x 1 looks great, but you need to make sure that the total number of stitches you use is divisible by 2.

The most common types of ribbing are 1 x 1 and 2 x 2.

How to Knit Ribbing

1 x 1 Rib Instructions

how to knit 1 x 1 ribbing
1 x 1 ribbing

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

Repeat Row 1 until you reach your desired length. Bind off in pattern.

2 x 2 Rib Instructions:

how to knit 2 x 2 ribbing
2 x 2 ribbing

Row 1: *Knit 2, Purl 2. Repeat from * to end of row.

Repeat Row 1 until you reach your desired length. Bind off in pattern.


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how to knit ribbing pin image

Lesson 4: How to Knit Ribbing Video Tutorial

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Right handed



Left handed

Be sure to follow all the How to Knit for Complete Beginners Lessons.

  1. How to Knit – Garter Stitch for Complete Beginners includes Basic Garter Scarf pattern.
  2. How to Knit – Purl stitch for Stockinette
  3. How to Knit – Stockinette with Garter Border includes Basic Bordered Dishcloth pattern.
  4. How to Knit – Ribbing 1×1 and 2×2 includes Easy Ribbed Headband pattern.
  5. How to Knit – Seed Stitch for Beginners includes Seed Stitch Washcloth pattern. (Coming February 27!)
  6. How to Knit – Moss Stitch for Beginners includes Moss Stitch Washcloth pattern. (Coming March 6!)
  7. How to Knit – Basketweave Stitch for Beginners includes Basketweave Cowl pattern (pictured above) (Coming March 13!)
  8. How to Knit – In-the-Round with Moss Stitch Includes Moss Stitch Cowl pattern. (Coming March 27!)
  9. How to Knit – 5 Cast-Ons for Beginners (Coming April 3!)
  10. How to Knit – 4 Increases (Make 1 L/R, Lifted L/R, Kfb, & Yarnover) includes Grandma’s Favorite Dishcloth pattern. (Coming April 10!)
  11. How to Knit – 5 Decreases (Ssk, k2tog, cdd, sssk, k3tog) includes Grandma’s Favorite dishcloth pattern. (Coming April 17!)
  12. How to Knit – Slip Stitches (Knitwise, purlwise and slip stitch edges) (Coming May 8!)