A Guide to Ribbing Techniques in Knitting and Crochet

A Guide to Ribbing Techniques in Knitting and Crochet


Ribbing is a fundamental technique in both knitting and crochet, creating a fabric that combines unique stretch capabilities and added textural flair. An essential skill for yarn crafters, ribbing serves both functional and aesthetic purposes. In this series of blog posts, we’ll dig into what ribbing is, the top stitches for achieving maximum stretch and tips for achieving a perfect result every time.


What is Ribbing?

Ribbing results in a textured fabric featuring vertical or horizontal ridges that appear more compact compared to other sections of your work. In knitting, ribbing is achieved by alternating between knit and purl stitches. In crochet, you typically work in the back loop or around the stitch post. Because you can work this technique flat or in the round, it's super adaptable for a variety of garments and accessories—from sweaters and hats to socks and scarves.


Why Ribbing Matters

  • Elasticity: Ribbing naturally adds stretch to your fabric, eliminating the need for specialized yarn or extra elastic. This makes it perfect for cuffs, collars, and waistbands.
  • Fit: The elastic nature ensures a snug fit, keeping the garment securely in place.
  • Versatility: Ribbing can be tailored for diverse projects. You can adjust the rib size by varying the number stitches for different effects and functionalities.
  • Texture and Aesthetics: The pattern of alternating stitches results in an engaging texture, enhancing the visual appeal of the item. Some ribbing styles are fully reversible too, which is a plus for projects like scarves.
  • Durability: Ribbing is less susceptible to curling, lending more durability and structure to the final product.
  • Edge Finishing: Ribbing often negates the need for additional edging or trim, providing a polished finish.
  • Warmth: The compact nature of ribbing can add extra cosiness to winter wear.

    Knitted Ribbing

    • 1x1 Ribbing: This is perhaps the stretchiest ribbing style, alternating one knit stitch with one purl stitch.
    • 2x2 Ribbing: This pattern involves knitting two stitches followed by purling two stitches. While stretchy, it's not quite as elastic as 1x1 ribbing. Generally, the greater the number of knit stitches together, the less stretchy the ribbing will be.
    • Twisted Rib: Adds a slightly more intricate texture to the fabric due to the twist in the knit stitches. While not as stretchy as 1x1 or 2x2 ribbing, this is still a great option.

      How to knit basic 1x1 ribbing

      Step 1. Start by casting on an even number of stitches

      Step 2. [Knit 1, purl 1]; repeat to the end

      Repeat step 2 as required.

      Crochet Ribbing

      • Back loop Crochet: Working into the back loop creates a ridge on the fabric because the unworked front loop of each stitch stands out. This can mimic the texture of knitted ribbing. Back loop crochet offers more stretch than working into both loops, making it ideal for ribbing. Common stitches used are slip stitches, double and half treble crochets.
      • Front and Back Post Stitches: By working around the post of the stitch instead of the top, you create a ribbed fabric by pushing these stitches to the back or front. The effect of combining these raised and sunken stitches creates the ribbing however this is quite a firm fabric with less stretch than the back loop method so more of an aesthetic than functional option.

        How to crochet basic ribbing

        Step 1. Chain any multiple of stitches as required

        Step 2. Htr in the third chain from the hook (this counts as the first htr) and in each chain along.

        Step 3, Ch1, turn, htr in the back loop of each st to the end.

        Repeat step 3 until this is the desired length.


        Ribbing is more than a basic technique; it's a versatile element that can add both form and function to your projects. Whether you're aiming for maximum stretch or looking to add some visual flair the variations are numerous and each has its unique characteristics. Understanding how and when to use ribbing will enrich your crafting experience and elevate your finished pieces.

        Look out for our next post where we share tips on mastering the knitted rib and tighten up those loose stitches for perfectly neat ridges every time.

        Happy Crafting.

        Read more about knitted ribbing with our articles on Perfecting the Knitted Rib and Exploring the Art of Decorative Knitting Ribbing.

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