How to knit the 1×1 rib stitch

A step by step tutorial on knitting the 1×1 rib stitch for beginners. How to knit it, how to decrease and how to cast off ribbings.

Are wondering how to knit a 1×1 rib? Well, then you came to the right place. In this tutorial, I am going to show you everything you need to know to start knitting the most basic ribbing. Further down, I’ll also talk about the best bind-off methods for this versatile pattern and how to decrease stitches. So, let’s dive right into it!

So, what is a 1×1 rib in knitting?

Knitting a swatch in 1x1 rib stitch

It’s an easy pattern where you alternate knit and purl stitches across all rows. It has a simple two-row repeat that creates vertical stripes. Of all the rib stitch patterns, this is the most basic one and is perfect for beginners. It adds both structure and elasticity to your work. It’s perfect for hems that need to be a little bit stretchy or for hats.

The 1×1 rib stitch is a reversible pattern and looks almost a bit like a Stockinette Stitch when not stretched out.

Knitting a swatch in 1x1 rib stitch on the needles

You’ll need:

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Instructions: How to knit the 1x1 rib stitch

close up of a 1x1 knitting ribbing

The one-by-one rib stitch is a simple 2-row repeat that alternates knit and purl stitches for a super-stretchy and reversible fabric. Here's the repeat:

  • Row 1: *k1, p1*
  • Row 2: *k1, p1*
Active Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes

Instructions

  1. Knit the first stitch. So, insert the needle from left to right, wrap the yarn around your needles counter-clockwise and pull through. (In case you need to catch up, here's my detailed knit stitch tutorial).

    knitting one stitch to start the 1x1 ribbing
  2. Purl the second stitch. Insert the needle from right to left, wrap the yarn around your needles counter-clockwise, and pull through. (Here's a more detailed explanation for the purl stitch.)

    Purl one stitch for 1x1 rib stitch
  3. Repeat steps 1 + 2 until you reach the end of the row.

    Knit another stitch
  4. Turn the work. And continue switching between knit and purl stitch.
    knit another row in the 1x1 rib stitch

Notes

In knitting patterns, everything between asterisks (*) describes a repeat. So, you knit the stitches like described and when you reach the last stitch before the "*" you start at the beginning again.

As you progress, you knit all stitches the way they appear. So, if there’s a knit stitch on your needles you knit it, and if there’s a purl stitch, you purl it. Here’s a little chart for you, so you can easily see the difference.

Once you know how to identify these stitches, you can easily knit the 1×1 rib with an odd number of stitches as well. Then the repeat would look like this:

  • Row 1: *K1,P1*, K1
  • Row 2: P1, *K1, P1*

Note: Be careful, though. When you accidentally offset one knit stitch, you will end up with a seed stitch. It may be just as pretty but probably not what you want.

Reading tip: Here’s how to improve your stitch definition and make your rib stitches look neater.

How to decrease a 1×1 rib stitch

Some patterns, especially hats, require you to decrease stitches. For the rib stitch, the k2tog (knit two together) is perfect and probably the most invisible decrease. You only have to take care, that you always start your decreases with the purl stitches, and then you knit two knit stitches together.

So, your first row will look like this: K1, P1, K1, P1, K1, P1… etc. So, this is the way I recommend you to decrease a rib stitch:

  • Row 1: K1, P1, K1, K2tog, P1, K1…
  • Row 2: Knit all stitches the way they appear (in this case that would be: K1, P1, K2, P2, K1..)
  • Row 3: K1, P1, K2tog, P1, K1….

If you start your k2tog with a purl stitch, then the knit stitch will always lie on top and this will look much neater. There are two ways to proceed from here.

Two ways to decrease 1x1 rib stitch. Left towards stockinette stitch and right towards binding off all ribs seperately
Version a) closes towards a stockinette stitch. Version b) decreases the rib count.

a) You can either close all purl stitches so the top looks like stockinette stitch. In this case, you would knit row 3 above like “k1, P1, K1, K2tog”

b) Or you can decrease single ribs at the edge one by one (my preferred method)

Note: I leave it to you and your pattern to find the right spot to start decreasing. This was just an example. Try to space the decreases out evenly for round objects like a hat. Make sure to start on the right side of the work.

How to cast off 1×1 rib stitch

Close-up of a standard cast off on a rib stitch pattern

The standard cast-off is perfect for a 1×1 rib stitch. Unlike other ribbings, you don’t need a special stretchy bind-off. 1×1 ribs are not super-elastic. There’s no need for a yarnover bind-off or a backloop bind-off, in my opinion. You should try to cast off the stitches quite a bit looser than regular, though. So, pull on the loops a bit as you knit and lift them.

Also, make sure to cast off all stitches as they appear. So, you purl all purl stitches before you pass them over, etc. Don’t knit all stitches in the bind-off row.

Cast-on recommendations

The standard long tail cast on is perfect for the rib stitch as it’s elastic enough to support the rest of the fabric. Consider casting on with two needles to add a little bit of extra stretchiness. The single cast on could be a good choice as well but I don’t feel it creates the prettiest edge.

What you really should consider for a pattern like this is learning how to cast on purl stitches. So, if you want a super neat cast on edge, you’d have to alternate between casting on purl and knit stitches. The standard longtail cast-on only creates knit stitches.

closeup of the edge created with a tubular cast-on
Close-up shot of the tubular cast-on for the 1×1 rib stitch.

A very popular method is the tubular cast-on. While a bit more difficult it creates an edge that almost appears out of nothing and is super stretchy. Very similar, and actually a related technique, is the Italian cast-on. This, too, creates a very invisible and in-pattern edge.

How to knit a 1×1 rib in the round

tubular cast on in the round shown with a swatch
A little swatch in a 1×1 rib stitch on circular needles

Knitting a 1×1 rib in the round couldn’t be easier. The repeat is the same. It’s still:

Row 1: *K1,P*1

The only thing you need to know is that you cannot knit a rib in the round with an uneven number of stitches. You always need to cast on multiples of 2. Otherwise, the pattern won’t work out and you’ll end up with an extra-large rib at end of your round.

So, This was my 1×1 rib stitch tutorial. Make sure to comment with your success stories and feel free to ask any questions.

How to knit the 1x1 rib stitch for beginners. Step by step tutorial

6 thoughts on “How to knit the 1×1 rib stitch”

  1. Hi Norman, I’m knitting a sleeve cuff using magic loop (in the round) & 40 stitches on the needle. The rib 1X1 is fine but once I finish the row, turn my work to start the new row with a knit stitch the problem begins. I just can’t seem to put the yarn into the correct position to make the rib stay nicely in pattern.
    The pattern requires I use 5.5mm needles, I have the Karbonz set at your recommendation but it doesn’t go to that size, otherwise I’d try DPNs.
    Could you perhaps suggest where I might be going wrong?
    Your posts are my knitting lifeline as a beginner:-) Thank you so much

    Reply
    • sorry louise, i read your commment three times but could not identify where you might be going wrong 🙁
      The last stitch of the 1 rows should be a purl stitch, and if the first stitch of the next row is a knit stitch, the ribs should perfectly align. Well maybe the edges will look a bit different but you’ll seam that away anyways.

      Reply
      • 😂 It’s certainly a mystery alright but I try keep a sense of humour about it….frustrating tho. My explanation is probably not the best as I can’t fathom the problem:-)
        I’m aware with the knit stitch the yarn has to stay at the back etc but whatever I’m doing on the return first stitch in the round, that yarn can’t be in the right place.
        I’ll tink it back & have another try. Thanks for the reply

        Reply
        • Hi Louise, did you manage to resolve your issue? It sounds like you’re turning your work and going back in the opposite direction. When knitting in the round using a magic loop, there’s no need to turn! You just continue in the same direction until you’re done. (It’s been a little while since you originally asked but I hope this helps if you haven’t found a solution yet 😊)

          Reply
  2. Hi Norman
    Not quite about K1 P1 rib.
    I am experimenting with different rib stitches. If I K1 P1 on first row & just P all stitches on the second row it looks like a rib. In fact I like the look of it – the stitches seem to lie more evenly than in the standard rib. But is it stretchy enough for a sleeve cuff?

    Reply
    • This pattern is known as a broken rib…at least a form of it. It won’t be as stretchy, but if you go down a needle size or so, it might still do the job. I have never done that but I don’t see anything that speaks against it on a fundamental level. Some people even do rolled stockinette stitch edges for a sweater, after all.

      Reply

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