Three Novelty Rib Patterns

Ribbed pullover from Vogue Knitting Winter 2010/11
Design #29 from Vogue Knitting Winter 2010/11

Rib stitch patterns are popular with my readers. Every knitter who has ever made a sweater knows what ribbing is. Not only is it a decorative detail, but rib patterns add elasticity to bottom edges, borders, and collars. There are so many variations of rib that are often overlooked, and the following three novelty rib patterns are a mere sampling of these. Novelty ribs create beautiful textural effects on the knit fabric, and look different from the usual “k1, p1” or “k2, p2” ribs. (Refer to Knitting Terminology e-book on Resources page for any abbreviations you are unfamiliar with)

“Mistake-Stitch” Ribbing

Barbara Walker, the author of A Treasury of Knitting Patterns (one of my favourite stitch pattern resources) states that “mistake-stitch” ribbing was probably discovered by accident. Once you make a sample swatch of this “k2, p2” variation, you’ll understand why. Mistake rib looks very different from the classic “k2, p2” pattern. The difference is achieved by working the “k2, p2” row on one less stitch.

Mistake-Stitch Rib
Multiple of 4 sts plus 3
*k2, p2; rep from * to last 3 sts, k2, p1. Repeat this row for pattern.

swatches comparing k2,p2 rib and mistake-stitch ri

Twisted Stitch Ribbing

Twisted stitches are made by either knitting or purling through the back loop of a stitch. Twisted rib patterns have less widthwise elasticity than regular rib patterns like “k1, p1”. They produce a loose ribbing with a beautiful texture, and is effective as an allover fabric, without being as clingy as regular ribbing. The rib pattern given below twists the stitches on both sides of the fabric, resulting in a corded effect, that is more dense and firm than plain rib.

Twisted Single Rib Variation
Even number of stitches
Row 1 (RS): *k1tbl, p1; rep from * to end of row.
Row 2: *k1, p1tbl; rep from * to end of row. Repeat these 2 rows for pattern.

swatch of twisted single rib with corded effect

Slip Stitch Ribbing

Slip stitch patterns are quick and easy to knit, and they create interesting effects on knit fabric. When slip stitches are used to form a rib-like texture, the vertical ribs look rounded, as compared to plain “k1, p1” or “k2, p2” ribs.

Slip Stitch Rib Variation
Multiple of 3 sts plus 2
Row 1 (WS): k2, *yo, sl 1 purlwise, k2; rep from * to end of row.
Row 2 (RS): k2, *k2tog (working the sl st and yo of row 1 together), k2; rep from * to end of row. (This pattern stitch was used as an allover fabric to make the Vogue pullover design shown above)

slip stitch rib variation

The above fancy ribs produce textured effects, with the latter two variations incorporating twisted and slip stitches. Novelty ribs can make a big difference, imparting an original look to your projects.