4 Variations of Rib Stitches to Make Your Knitting Sparkle

Do you love ribbing in your knitting but yearn for something different? Take a look at these fun, simple variations to the basic rib stitch

Do you have a favorite type of knit stitch?

I happen to have a love for ribbing. I adore any part of knitting that feels magical, and to me, ribbing is magical. It creates distinct shapes and makes fabric both more stretchy and clingier, all at once.

I also love ribbing varieties. Sure, you can knit one and purl one, knit two and purl two, and so on. But it’s really fun to mix things up to make ribbing look a little more fun and unusual.

So below, I’m offering four different variations on rib stitches! Any of these variations can be used in nearly any knitting project: scarves, squares, blankets, dish or washcloths, even circular knits like hats and mittens and sweaters.

Variations on Rib Stitches

1. Vertical Stripes, with or without purl stitches I love this stitch because it makes an excellent introduction to intarsia. Intarsia is a type of colorwork in which you change colors mid-row (or round) rather than at the end of the row.

Vertical Stripes (without purls)
Photo: Eric Haschke

Technically, the first variation isn’t actually ribbing, since there are no alternating knit and purl stitches. But because you’re changing colors to create vertical stripes, it offers an illusion of ribbing.

First, choose the number of colors you want to use. You’ll cast on any number of stitches divisible by your colors (plus any borders you wish to create).

In the example shown here, I cast on 26 stitches: 8 for my garter border, or 4 on each side. Then, 18 stitches remained to divide between my 3 colors, of which I knitted 6 each (not counting the borders).

Row 1: Knit all stitches, switching colors at the appropriate intervals. (I recommend crossing your working yarn ends as you change colors, to avoid gaps in your color switches.)

Row 2: Purl all stitches, again switching colors at the appropriate intervals, and again crossing your working yarn ends as you switch.

Repeat these 2 rows until your work is as long as you wish!

The second variation includes purl stitches to create real ribbing. Here’s how that will work:

Just as in the first variation, choose the number of colors you wish to use. Then cast on any number divisible by the number of your colors, but don’t forget your border stitches (if you use them).

Vertical Stripes with Purls - Eric Haschke
Vertical Stripes with Purls
Photo: Eric Haschke

So again, in my example, I’m casting on 26 stitches. 4 stitches each go to my border colors, leaving 18 stitches remaining, and 6 for each of my 3 non-border colors.

Row 1: Knit until at least 2 stitches before your color change, then purl those final stitches. Then change colors at the appropriate interval; repeat until the end (or until you hit your border, if you’re using one).

Using my block an example: Knit 4 in border color; knit 4 in color 1, purl 2 in color 1; knit 4 in color 2, purl 2 in color 2; knit 4 in color 3, purl 2 in color 3; knit 4 in border color.

Row 2: Knit at least the first two stitches of each color (basically, the number of stitches you purled in Row 1). Purl the rest of the stitches in each color.

So again, using my sample block as an example: Knit 4 in border color; knit 2 in color 3, purl 4 in color 3; knit 2 in color 2, purl 4 in color 2; knit 2 in color 1, purl 4 in color 2; knit 4 in border color.

If you’re using this pattern to create a flat work, you’ll want to create some sort of border, like a garter stitch or a seed stitch. As you can see, in my first sample block, I did not change colors for my borders, while in my second sample block, I did. The choice is yours!

Beaded Rib - Eric Haschke
Beaded Rib
Photo: Eric Haschke

3. Beaded Rib This is such a pretty stitch! It’s a great way to add beauty and interest to any project.

Cast on a multiple of 5 plus 2. (In my sample block, I cast on 25 stitches: 8 for my border, and 17 for the stitch pattern.)

Row 1: P2, *K1, P1, K1, P2. Repeat from * to end.

Row 2: K2. *P3, K2. Repeat from * to end.

Repeat until work is as long as you wish.

4. Andalusian Stitch What a fancy name for a very simple stitch pattern! If you’re new to knitting and long to break out of garter or stockinette, this is a great choice.

Andalusian Stitch - Eric Haschke
Andalusian Stitch
Photo: Eric Haschke

Cast on any multiple of 2. (I cast on 26 for this sample block.)

Row 1: Knit

Row 2: Purl

Row 3: K1, P1. Repeat to end.

Row 4: Purl

Repeat until work is as long as you wish.

Which of these four variations do you like the best? These lovely stitch patterns are proof that knitting doesn’t need to be difficult to be beautiful!

4 Rib Stitch Variations
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