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Rib Stitch Patterns – How To Knit Rib Stitch

Basic rib stitch patterns are great to learn and are the ones you will probably use the most. Knowing how to knit ribbing stitch patterns will help you when you start making all those cozy sweaters.

The reason is that ribbing is one of the best ways to create a stretchy form fitting piece of fabric. And it’s also reversible.

You can use it for:

  • necklines, cuffs and borders for sweaters and tops
  • waistlines
  • cuffs on mittens, hats and socks
  • scarves
  • hems
  • a nice form fitting sweater

The list is endless. Whenever you need your knitting to snug up a bit add a rib stitch row or two, to get the effect you want. For instance if you want a form-fitting top you can add some ribbing to the waistline.

Knitted rib stitches create a really nice looking fabric too. It looks like stripes with the even lines of knit and purl stitches. (The purl stitches are neatly tucked away in between the knit stitches)

The most common ribbing stitches you will use are:

rib stitch


1 X 1 rib stitch pattern and what that means is that you knit 1 stitch, purl 1 stitch all the way across your needle.




 2 X 2 rib stitch


2 X 2 ribbing and that means that you knit 2 stitches, purl 2 stitches all the way across your needle.  2 X 2 ribbing is really a nice stretchy fabric even more than 1 X 1 ribbing. There are hundreds of ribbing stitch pattern variations you can try too. You just have to play a little and see which ones you like.


For instance try:

  • Knit 3, purl 1
  • Knit 4, purl 2
  • Knit 4, purl 4

You can be as creative as you like and find one ribbing stitch pattern that works well for your project.

How to Knit The Rib Stitch

When you knit ribbing you knit the knit stitches and purl the purl stitches stacking them onto each other row by row.


Remember: The knit stitch looks like little ‘V’s‘ and the purl stitches look like bumps. In the photo I have just begun ribbing so the little ‘V’s‘ aren’t well defined yet but you can still see the little columns of knit stitches forming with the purl stitches in the background.


For practice purposes and to make it easier for you, cast on an even number of stitches. I explain why a little further down the page.

rib stitch


Make sure your yarn is at the back of your work and knit the first stitch Note: See how I am knitting the little v or smooth stitch?


rib stitch


Then bring your yarn to the front of your work (as in the photo on right) and purl the next stitch. Note: See how I am purling into the bump?

Keep on ribbing stitches across your row.

1. Yarn at back and knit next stitch

2. Yarn in front and purl next stitch all the way across the stitches on your needle.

When you finish your row, turn your work and start again. So continue with knit 1, purl 1.

And that is all there is to knitting basic rib stitches.

Important Tips for Knitting the Rib Stitch

1. When you have an even number of stitches on your needle every row is knit the same, knit 1, purl 1.

If you have an odd number of stitches work the ribbing as follows:

Row 1: Knit 1, Purl 1 across row

Row 2: Purl 1, Knit 1 across row.

Why is that?

Take a look at your stitches

The knit stitch on the right side of your work is a ‘v’ but on the reverse side it is a bump (purl stitch).

The purl stitch on the right side of your work is a bump but on the reverse side it is a ‘v.

So with an odd number of stitches on your needle you will end your row with a knit stitch and when you turn your work to continue in ribbing your first stitch will be a purl stitch because it will have the bump. So your next row will start with a purl stitch. Then you just keep going, purl 1 and knit 1.

Remember that you want to knit the ‘V’s’ and purl the bumps throughout your ribbing.

2. Always remember to move your yarn back for knitting and forward for purling otherwise you will make little holes and add a lot of extra stitches.

3. The wider the ribbing is, the less elasticity it will have.

4. Many patterns especially for sweaters will ask you to knit the rib stitches on smaller needles. Why? Because it makes the fabric more snug. So for instance ribbing along the sleeve cuffs and the border of your sweater will probably be done on smaller needles, usually one or two sizes smaller.

5. If you are working a rib stitch pattern always try it out first on a test swatch to see if it will be stretchy enough for what you want. Some rib stitches are more elastic than others.

Back to knitting stitch patterns

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6 thoughts on “Rib Stitch Patterns – How To Knit Rib Stitch

  1. I’m new to knitting so can someone help me please.
    My pattern says 1st and 2nd rows set position of St st and 1 x 1 rib border **

    What does this mean

    1 row knit, 1 row purl then 1 row knit one purl one?


    1. Hi Tracy. I don’t answer knitting questions here in the comments as I have created a lovely free knitting forum to help answer everyone’s knitting questions. I would love to help so please consider joining my forum. Hope to see you over there. 🙂

  2. This was a great help. Thanks. Better than a video I tried first. I am familiar with the stockinette stitch that I use for making comfort dolls, but I had never done the rib stitch. And I need to know this stitch to make small newborn hats for donating. Very clear explanation and the pictures were very helpful. Thanks again.

  3. Thank you so much for this. I learnt knitting from my beloved grandmother. Since I’m now of grandmother age, I’d forgotten some basics and wanted to knit a cap for a doll I’m making. Really appreciate the clear instructions.

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