How to knit the 2×2 rib stitch

Step by step tutorial on knitting the 2×2 rib stitch pattern – flat or in the round

There can be no doubt that ribbing is probably one of the most popular knitting stitch patterns. No matter if you want to knit a hat, socks, or a scarf – the very versatile 2×2 rib stitch has always been a favorite. But how do you it?

a swatch in the 2x2 rib stitch knitting pattern on a wooden board still on the needles

In this tutorial, I will show everything you need to know about knitting 2×2 ribbing – step by step. I’ll show you the basic repeat, there’s a video included, how to cast off and cast on, and if you scroll all the way down you will even find how to knit it in the round.

The double rib stitch pattern (just another name that means the same) is particularly well suited for hems, cuffs, and all other places where you need a little bit of extra stretch and grip. It has remarkable negative ease. This means, while your finished project might only be 10 inches wide, it will easily stretch out to 12 inches and hug your body perfectly.

close-up of a 2x2 rib stitch knitting pattern where you can really see the ridges the pattenr is forming

Let’s dive right into it, and show you how to knit it!

Note: Definitely check out my tutorial on other rib stitches & the 1×1 rib stitch in particular as well.

Note: I earn a small commission for purchases made through links in this article.

2X2 RIB STITCH INSTRUCTIONS

2x2 rib knitting stitch swatch

The classic 2x2 rib stitch is formed by alternating two knit stitches and two purl stitches across all rows and stitches. It's a simple 1-row repeat as long as you cast on multiples of 4:

RS: *k2, p2*
WS: *k2, p2*

Active Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes

Instructions

  1. Cast on multiples of 4 with a longtail cast-on
  2. Knit two regular knit stitches

    knitting two stitches for the 2x2 rib stitch
  3. Bring the yarn to the front and purl two stitches

    purling two stitches for the 2x2 rib stitch
  4. Repeat these two steps until you reached the desired length. Remember to always bring the yarn to the front and back respectively. Be careful so you don't accidentally create a yarnover as you do it (may happen when the yarn gets caught as you bring it back & forth)

Notes

For symmetrical edges, you may consider casting on multiples of 4 +2 (so 18, 26, etc). That way, you end up with neat ribs on both sides. In this case, the repeat changes a bit like this:RS: *k2, p2*, k2WS: p2, *k2, p2*This version is better for scarves and flat projects that need to be seamed.

For a neater stitch definition, try to knit the 2x2 rib stitch with one needle size smaller than recommended for your yarn (or the rest of your pattern). So, if you knit a sweater and you knit the stockinette stitch for the body with a size 6 needles and you come to the hem, switch to size 5, etc.

Cast on for the 2×2 rib

casting on for a 2x2 rib stitch using two needles for a stretchier edge

Ribbing has a lot of negative ease (about 20% and more). So, a lot of beginners make the mistake that they use the standard longtail cast on and then their scarves (etc) get wider after a couple of inches. Or their socks are too tight around the cuff, etc.

An easy way to prevent that is casting on around 2 needles. So, normally you might use one needle and do your cast on. You can use the exact same technique. But if you cast on holding 2 needles close together (or a needle 2 sizes bigger), you will create a much stretchier edge.

comparing two different cast on edges for the 2x2 rib stitch
Top: Alternating cast on | Bottom: Standard cast on

Another thing to consider is alternating between casting on knit and purl stitches (watch this tutorial on how to cast on purlwise). A standard longtail cast-on creates a knit stitch, and if you turn it around (as you always do when you start your first round), this stitch will appear like a purl stitch.

For an in-pattern edge, you may consider alternating between casting on 2 knit stitches and 2 purl stitches.

You could also use a tubular cast-on but personally, I feel it looks much better for a 1×1 rib and is only okayish for the double ribbing.

STRETCHY BIND OFF FOR THE 2×2 rib

comparing a stretchy bind off for a 2x2 rib stitch with a standard version using 2 swatches in green yarn
Top: Standard bind-off | Bottom: Stretchy bind-off

One of the biggest mistakes most beginners make is binding off their 2×2 rib too tightly. If you use your standard bind-off, you will effectively restrict all the stretchiness and your hat/socks/etc might not even fit.

A very easy way to combat that is by stretching out the stitches a lot while you do the bind-off. So, don’t knit them regularly, but keep a very loose tension, and every time you pass the stitches over, stretch them out, etc. It also helps if you bind off in pattern – meaning you purl all purls before you bind them off.

Or, you use a stretchier bind-off for the 2×2 rib (click on the link for the full tutorial with video & pictures). And since it’s so simple, you might as well try it. Here’s the repeat:

  • Step 1: Knit 2 stitches
  • Step 2: Knit these two stitches together through back loop (k2tog tbl)
  • Step 3: purl 1 stitch
  • Step 4: Purl the two stitches on your right needle together (p2tog)
  • Step 5: Purl another stitch and p2tog (so repeat steps 3+4)
  • Step 6: Knit one stitch and k2tog tbl the two stitches on your right needle
  • Step 7: Repeat step 6
  • Repeat steps 3-7 until you bound off all stitches

Sounds complicated. Actually, there are only two differences between the standard cast-off method. You bind off in pattern, and instead of passing the stitches over you use decreases. P2tog if the last stitch was a purl and k2tog tbl if the last stitch was a knit. However, it will be almost twice as stretchy.

a stretchy bind off for the 2x2 rib stitch that kind of flares out a bit
The stretchy bind-off for the 2×2 rib flares out a bit

Do take care, however, that using a stretchy bind-off for a 2×2 rib will create a bit of flare. That’s totally okay as you will stretch out the brim of your hat anyway as you wear. But if it’s something that is not that fitted, it will definitely be noticeable.

Selvage stitches

a swatch showing the problem with the edge of a standard 2x2 rib stitch
A little swatch following the standard 2×2 rib repeat with different edges on each side

Making a scarf in a 2×2 rib can look really lovely and it’s a great way to keep your knitting from curling. But if you stick to the standard repeat, your edges won’t look all that nice. First of, all they will be lopsided, meaning there is a knit ridge on the right but a purl ridge on the left. And on top of that, the ridge will appear to be thinner than the rest.

As a remedy, you need to adjust two things:

  1. First of all, cast on multiples of 4+2. That way, you get symmetrical edges.
  2. And then add a one-stitch slip stitch selvage on each side.
slip stitch selvage for a 2x2 rib stitch forming very neat ridges on the sides
Isn’t this edge beautiful?

So, the pattern for a scarf in a 2×2 rib could look like this:

  • Cast on multiples of 4+2 (e.g. 26 stitches)
  • RS: SL1, *k2, p2*, k3
  • WS: SL1, p2, *k2, p2*, p1

2×2 rib in the round

a swatch knitted with a 2x2 rib stitch in the round

Maybe you want to knit a hat in the 2×2 rib and now you are probably wondering how to knit this stitch pattern in the round. It couldn’t be easier, as it’s exactly the same repeat.

  • Cast on multiples of 4
  • Every round: *k2, p2*

It’s really that simple. However, if you are knitting in the round with double-pointed needles, I found it helps to always place 2 knit stitches after the gap. At least for me, this helps to prevent the second knit stitch of a rib from “opening up” to the left.

Weaving in the tails

weaving in 2x2 rib stitch before and after
Left: How I weave in the tails | Right: Same spot after I pulled the needle through & cut the tail.

And here’s one last little tip. When it’s time to weave in tails for a 2×2 rib, try to spear through a rib with your tapestry needle. I find this is an incredibly invisible and secure way to hide the ends. For more information check out my full tutorial on how to weave in ends.

And that’s how to knit the 2×2 rib knitting stitch pattern. Comment below in case you have any questions

how to knit the 2x2 rib stitch step by step tutorial

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