In knitting, ribbing is formed of alternating vertical courses of knit and purl stitches. When unstretched, the resulting fabric naturally contracts, with purl stitches receding and knit stitches standing out. Ribbing may be composed of equal numbers of knit and purl stitches (eg k1 p1, k2 p2) or unequal numbers of knit and purl stitches (eg k2 p1, k3 p2). Ribbing makes a fabric that does not curl and for that reason is often used at the edges of garments.

There seems to be a dearth of knitting information on E2, so let's take a look at the rib stitch and make the recipients of scarves and sweaters everywhere much happier people.

Rib stitch is awesome because it lies flat and doesn't curl under at the edges like stockinette and doesn't look as simplistic as garter stitch. Plus, it's very stretchy along the x-axis which means it's great for cuffs, collars, and other parts you want to snug up.

Rib is made by alternating rows of purl and knit and lining them up along the length of the fabric to create columns of knit and purl. The knit stitches come to the front with "valleys" of purl stitches between them. Let's take a look at a sample of 2x2 rib to see how it works.

2x2 rib

Cast on a number of stitches divisible by 4. Knit 2 stitches. Then bring the yarn to the front of your work and purl 2 stitches. Bring the yarn to the back and knit 2. Keep alternating purl 2, knit 2 in the same way. Repeat. You should end with 2 purl stitches.

Next turn your work over. Do the same thing. Knit 2, purl 2 until the end. If all goes well you should be setting up some nice ribs.

x = knit  _ = purl

4 __xx__xx__xx
3 __xx__xx__xx
2 __xx__xx__xx
1 __xx__xx__xx

You can do the same thing with larger or smaller ribs. There is also 1x1 rib, 4x4 rib, or 100x100 rib if you're going really (really) nuts. You can do whatever you want with it as long as you remember to cast on a number of stitches divisible by the total of one repeat of the pattern. So, for 2x2 cast on a number of stitches divisible by 4, for 1x1 divisible by 2, for 3x3 divisible by 6.

1x1 Rib

x = knit  _ = purl

4 _x_x_x_x
3 _x_x_x_x
2 _x_x_x_x
1 _x_x_x_x

3x3 Rib

x = knit  _ = purl

4 ___xxx___xxx
3 ___xxx___xxx
2 ___xxx___xxx
1 ___xxx___xxx

Experiment with ribbing. Knit a ribbed scarf. Put some cuffs on that pesky sweater. Go nuts.

Rib"bing (?), n.

An assemblage or arrangement of ribs, as the timberwork for the support of an arch or coved ceiling, the veins in the leaves of some plants, ridges in the fabric of cloth, or the like.


© Webster 1913.

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