At the bottom of a hem, edge of a sleeve, or at the brim of
a hat, ribbing improves fit and leaves a clean edge. To edge crochet sweaters, hats, and socks, I often put down my crochet hook and pick up a set of knitting needles. Knitted ribbing has incredible elasticity and combines beautifully with crochet.
Here is knitting designer Karen Frisa to tell us a little more about knitted ribbing.
||Figures 1a, 1b, 1c (top to bottom)
The Mechanics of Ribbing
The lower edges of sweaters, sleeves, and the necklines of
garments are places you'll often see ribbing. This type of stitch pattern is
used to make the fabric pull in and lie flat (not curl or roll). It can also
work as an allover pattern for a fitted or clingy garment or to add some
shaping at the waist. Read on and learn how ribbing works.
The image at right shows three swatches, all worked using the
same yarn, needle size, number of stitches, and number of rows. The needle used
was two sizes smaller than the size listed on the yarn's ball band. All the
swatches were washed, then dried flat without tension. The stockinette stitch
swatch (Figure 1a) measures 6 1⁄4" wide; the k1, p1 rib swatch (Figure 1b)
measures 4 1⁄4" wide; and the k2, p2 rib swatch (Figure 1c) measures 3 3⁄4"
wide. K2, p2 rib is often said to be more elastic than k1, p1 rib. As you can
see in Figure 1, the k2, p2 rib pulls in much more than the k1, p1 rib does.
Both swatches will stretch to the same width.
To make a rib that is very elastic, use a smaller needle
size. Using a needle that is two sizes smaller than the needle used for the
body of a garment is typical, but for more elasticity, don't be afraid to use
an even smaller needle. If your ribbing tends to stretch out after wearing your
garment a few times, using a smaller needle may solve the problem.
Figure 2 shows a k2, p2 rib sample that was worked using the
same yarn, number of stitches, and number of rows as the swatches in Figure 1,
but this swatch was worked using a size 0 (2 mm) needle. It measures 3"
Working ribbing on a very small needle creates a rib that is much more
compressed when relaxed but still has quite a bit of stretch. The swatch worked
on a needle two sizes smaller than the size listed on the ball band stretched
to 9", while the swatch worked on a size 0 needle stretched to 6".
If you plan to use a much smaller needle for your ribbing, swatch
first to make sure that the fabric isn't too stiff or firm for your taste.
-Karen Frisa, Knitscene 2010
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