Your Crochet and Knitted Ribbing

Mar 10, 2014

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.

Ribbing elasticity

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.

Needle size

Crochet Bobble Beret by Robyn Chachula, Knitscene Fall 2009  

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" wide.


Figure 2

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

Berkshire Dolman Sweater by Melissa Wehrle, Knitscene Fall 2009  

Dive into a new yarn technique or learn more about knitting, whether you are combining knitting with your crochet or creating and entirely knitted piece. Subscribe to Knitscene today for more fabulous knitting tips and patterns.

Best wishes,


Featured Products

Crochet Bobble Beret Knitting Pattern

Availability: In Stock
Price: $5.50


A chic and easy to make hat.


Berkshire Dolman Sweater Knitting Pattern

Availability: In Stock
Price: $5.50


A simple but interesting cowl-collared pullover.


Related Posts
+ Add a comment


Char55 wrote
on Mar 10, 2014 12:22 PM

I have a crochet toddler's sweater pattern from Leisure Arts that uses single crochet to make the ribbing. It's very easy and looks great.

wendygoerl wrote
on Mar 10, 2014 1:50 PM

This is the first time I've heard someone NOT consider K1P1 the "stretchiest" rib.

NorskRose wrote
on Mar 10, 2014 2:13 PM

While I usually appreciate the information about crochet, I did not care about this blog topic.  I do not knit, do not care to nor appreciate knitting information included in with crochet which is why choose to receive this newsletter and not the knitting info.  This tells me nothing about crochet ribbing.

cheeriosboy wrote
on Mar 10, 2014 4:21 PM

Correct me if I am wrong but I thought this was CrochetMe not KnitMe. How about some advice or instruction on crochet ribbing, such as slip stitich ribbing, that is very stretchy.  Or maybe back-loop-only or front-loop-only which are both stretchy.  Maybe you could provide some information or options within the craft we already do.  I don't knit. I have no desire to knit.  I get this email newsletter to better my crochet skills not to find out how the knit world does things.  What's the matter, is the subscriber count to KnitScene too low?

on Mar 12, 2014 11:59 AM

Lauren Sweater with single crochet ribbed collar. A recent blog on knitted ribbing has prompted questions