How to knit the ZigZag Rib Stitch

A step by step tutorial on knitting the zigzag rib stitch for beginners.

Have you seen a picture with some knitting in an amazing zigzag stitch? And now you are wondering how to knit this pattern? Then you came to the right place.

In this tutorial, I am going to show you how to knit the zigzag stitch step by step. I tried to keep things as easy as possible, but it’s probably a knitting stitch pattern better suitable for intermediate knitters. So, if you are starting out, maybe check out my rib stitch post with plenty of wonderful alternatives for beginners (but nothing speaks against giving it a try anyway).

A swatch on the needles knitted in the zigzag rib stitch pattern

With this stitch, you can create a very voluminous and moderately stretchy fabric that has a remarkable 3-D effect to it. Sadly, it’s not reversible and the wrong side looks rather plain. It’s also a bit slower to knit and probably not the best pattern for knitting while watching the TV.

Anyway, let’s show you how it’s done, eh?

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Instructions: How to knit the ZigZag rib stitch

a swatch knitted in the ziggzag rib stitch pattern in green yarn

The zigzag rib stitch is a 2-row repeat and requires you to cast on multiples of three. You might want to add a couple of more selvage stitches. I feel the standard garter stitch edge actually works remarkably well with the zigzag rib.

Either way, this is the repeat:

  • Row 1: P1, *knit the second stitch on the left needle through the back loop without dropping it, knit the first stitch, drop them both, P1*
  • Row 2: K1, *purl the second stitch on the left needle without dropping it, purl the first stitch, drop them both, k1*
Active Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes


  1. Step: Purl the first stitch as normal.
    Starting to knit the zig zar rib stitch by purling the first stitch of the row
  2. Step: Now, insert your needle into the back loop of the SECOND stitch on your left needle and knit it through the back loop (ktbl) but leave the stitch on the needle (important).
    kniting thesecond stitch through the back loop for the zigzag rib stitch
  3. Step: Knit the remaining first stitch on the needle.
    knitting the first stitch on the left needle for the zigzag rib stitch
  4. Step: Now you can drop both stitches you just knitted.
    after you dropped both stitch as the same time

    Repeat steps 2-5 until the end of the row.
  5. Step: (Start of the return row) Knit one stitch as normal.
  6. Step: Purl the second stitch on the left needle and leave it on the needle (note: unlike in the first row, you are not knitting this stitch through the back loop).
    purling the second stitch first on the return row of the zigzag rib stitch pattern
  7. Step: Purl the first stitch on the left needle.
    purling the first stitch after the second stitch
  8. Step: Drop both stitches you just knitted.
    after having dropped both purl stitches on the wrong side of the zigzag rib stitch pattern
  9. Step: Knit one stitch
    Repeat steps 6-9 until the end of the row and starting with Step 1 on the right side
    a close up of a zig zag rib stitch swatch on the needles


If you want to knit the ZigZag stitch in the round, then you have to adjust the repeat a little bit. Instead of knitting a wrong side, you only repeat the right side stitches. But, every even-numbered round you only knit the second stitch (step 2) through the front loop (so a regular knit stitch).

Further tips

a swatch knitted in the ziggzag rib stitch pattern in green yarn

If you follow this tutorial you will create a little garter stitch selvedge and it works quite well. You can do one, two or three stitches but I don’t feel a more fancy selvage stitch is required. One thing you might, however, consider is a different cast on to go with the flow of this pattern.

I always use the long tail cast on but alternate one knit stitch and 2 purl stitches. Here’s a tutorial in case you don’t know how to cast on purlwise.

In terms of casting off your stitches, you’ll be fine with the standard bind off as well. The fabric is not that stretchy that an Icelandic or a yarnover bind off would be necessary (and it actually would be a bit counterproductive). A picot bind-off might be worth considering to stay with the general theme of the zigzag ribbings, though.

The wrong side of a zig zag rib stitch
The wrong side of the zig zag rib stitch

Also, the wrong side of this pattern looks quite unremarkable. So, don’t forget to have a plan for that when you start knitting 🙂

So, this was my guide to knitting the zigzag rib stitch. make sure to ask any questions in the comments below.

How to knit the zig zag stitch

7 thoughts on “How to knit the ZigZag Rib Stitch”

    • Hey liz,
      i don’t quite understand? you want me to publish a reversible zigzag rib pattern or just any reversible scarf? 😉

  1. I have an old bed jacket that I don’t quite know what the stitches. I believe it may be the stitch but it goes in one direction for three rows and then switches back again. It does not look like the Chevron or the zigzag stitch. How would you adopt us to have three rows going in one direction and three go in the other? The third stitch maybe a directional change.

    • Hey Joy,
      impossible to help you with that description. This could be any of a million knit-purl combinations or something fancier (like this brioche stitch variations)

    • Ideally on the edges with any stitch you like. Do remember that the repeat my “move” a bit after the first increase.

  2. Love learning new knitting patterns. The zig zag was a little bit difficult at first , but great once you get use to it. Made dish rag with pattern.


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