One of the most important parts of a garment, whether crocheted, sewn, or knitted, is fit. But fit can also be one of the most difficult components of a top to get just right. That's why I adore ribbing. The elasticity in crocheted ribbing gives you just the perfect amount of give in just the right places.
Many projects benefit from ribbing at the hem or cuff. The use of deep crocheted ribbing on the sleeves of the Dusk Sweater (at right; Fall 2008) creates the wonderful full shape that helps to showcase the beautiful lace inset. While other projects such as the Butterscotch Cardigan (below right; Spring 2008) use all over ribbing to transform their rectangular construction, allowing it to follow your own body's curves.
Crocheted ribbing is and incredibly easy technique. The vertical lines of the ribbing are actually created by the unworked loops in each row, meaning that the ribbing is worked and then turned so that the row-ends lay along the top and bottom edges. Generally worked in single crochet through the back loop only, you can also work ribbing in slip stitch in the back loop only for tighter ribbing. Let's look at a couple of methods of using ribbing.
The Malabrigo Top (above left; Spring 2009) uses ribbing for the entire lower bodice. For this type of construction, the 10" of ribbing is worked first. To work the ribbing for this type of construction, chain the required number of stitches, turn and single crochet in each chain across. Then turn and single crochet in the back loop only of each single crochet across. Repeat the last row until your ribbing reaches the required length. The length of your ribbing should be equal to the circumference desired as you will now turn the ribbing 90 degrees and begin working in the row-ends for the upper portion of the garment.
Work one stitch in each row-end across the length of the ribbing. Pay special attention to your gauge. If you want a tighter ribbing, consider going up in hook size for the upper portion of the garment, or try working your ribbing in slip stitch in the back loop only.
Ribbing As an Edging
Most projects, like the Dusk Sweater, use shorter lengths of ribbing as cuffs or at the hem. This ribbing is worked after the remainder of the project has already been finished, joining as you go. Simply join your yarn to the edge of your project and chain the number of stitches required for the length of ribbing desired. Turn and single crochet in the back loop in each chain across. When you reach the edge of the garment again, slip stitch in the next row-end adjacent to your join to attach the ribbing. Slip stitch in the next row-end to begin the next row of the ribbing and single crochet in the back loop only across each stitch of the ribbing. Repeat these last two rows until you have worked the ribbing all the way the edge of the project.
I am in love with the ease of creation, functionality, and appearance of crocheted ribbing. This beautiful technique creates amazing shaping and drape. And you can find all of the garments I have mentioned in the new Interweave Crochet 2008 and 2009 CD Collections. Plus check out all of the other great techniques and how to articles such as linked stitches, join-as-you-go motifs, and lace. Pick up your copy of the Interweave Crochet 2008 and 2009 CD Collections today and find the perfect to garment to start crocheting.
Learn how to weave lace with this 109-minute workshop with expert Madelyn van der Hoogt.