How to graft 2×2 ribbing

A step by step tutorial showing you everything you need to know about grafting 2×2 ribbing

The 2×2 rib stitch is one of the most popular knitting stitches patterns of them all. And it’s so versatile. But what can you do when you want to close the toes of ribbed socks or you want to join a cowl in the round with an invisible seam? Is grafting 2×2 ribbing possible?

Of course, it is! In fact, it’s pretty easy once you understand the underlying principle. So, if you’ve never grafted a single stitch, then I really urge you to check out my full tutorial on how to graft knitting stitches. The repeat for the 2×2 rib stitch graft is a bit complicated, and thus a bit more difficult to remember. But if you can read your knitting, it’s super easy.

two knitted pieced joined together by grafting 2x2 ribbing for an invisible seam

In a classic 2×2 rib stitch you always alternate between knitting two knit stitches and 2 purl stitches. Maybe you already know the Kitchener Stitch and how you can use it to join two knitted pieces together. But there is also a version of the Kitchener Stitch for the purl side.

And if you want to graft 2×2 ribbing, then essentially, all you have to do is combine these two methods. So you graft two knit stitches, and then two purl stitches. Pretty logical, if you think about it. And of course, you could adjust that repeat to graft any other kind of ribbing.

So, let’s show you how to do that!

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Grafting 2x2 ribbing

grafting ribbing with tapestry needle

To graft a 2x2 rib stitch you need to alternate between grafting two knit stitches and then two purl stitches. The repeat has 17 steps and 3 preparation steps, so go slowly and pay attention. You can graft ribbing with the stitches being held on two lifelines or two knitting needles. The latter being a bit more easier to handle in my experience.

Active Time 15 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes

Instructions

  1. Align the two pieces you want to join - preferably in a way so the first two stitches are knit stitches. The ribs should form one continuous line when laying flat.

    Aling the two pieces you want to join to graft 2x2 ribbing
  2. Thread the tail or a long piece of scrap yarn on a tapestry needle and go into the first stitch on the front needle purlwise (so coming from behind).

    going into the first stitch on the first needle purlwise
  3. Go through the first stitch on the back needle knitwise (so coming from the front).

    going to the first stitch on the back needlepurlwise
  4. Go through the first stitch on the front needle knitwise and drop the stitch.

    dropping the first stitch on the front needle by going through knitwise
  5. Go through the adjacent stitch on the front needle purlwise.

    going through the adjacent stitch purlwise

    Note: If the yarn gets caught on top of the needle, use your fingers to bring it under the needles again so you don't create an accidental yarn over.
  6. Go through the first stitch on the back needle purlwise and drop it.

    dropping the first stitch on the back needle
  7. Go through the adjacent stitch on the back needle knitwise.

    Going through the adjacent stitch knitwise
  8. Go through the (new) first stitch on the front needle knitwise and drop it.

    dropping the new first stitch knitwise
  9. And pull the yarn through the adjacent stitch (it's the third) knitwise.

    going through the third stitch on the front needle knitwise - the first different step when you graft 2x2 ribbing
    Be careful, until step 8, everything was the same as for a normal Kitchener Stitch. But now, starting from step 9, you have to graft two purl stitches hence you go through the stitch knitwise (instead of the usual purlwise).
  10. Drop the stitch on the back needle purlwise.

    dropping the second stitch on the back needle purlwise
  11. And pull the yarn through the adjacent stitch on the back needle purlwise as well.

    going through the thirst stitch on the back needle purlwise
  12. Drop the (third) stitch on the front needle purlwise.

    dropping the third stitch on the front needle purlwise
  13. Go through the adjacent stitch knitwise.

    going through the third stitch on the front needle knitwise - the first different step when you graft 2x2 ribbing
  14. Drop the stitch on the back needle knitwise.

    dropping the stitch on the back needle knitwise
  15. Pull the yarn through the stitch next to it purlwise.

    going through the next stitch purlwise
  16. Drop the (fourth) stitch on the front needle purlwise.

    dropping the fourth stitch on the front needle purlwise
  17. And go through the adjacent stitch purlwise.

    Aling the two pieces you want to join to graft 2x2 ribbing

    Again, pay attention here. This fifth stitch on your front needle appears like a knit stitch and thus you need to graft a knit stitch here.
  18. Pull the yarn through the stitch on the back needle knitwise and drop it

    dropping the fourth stitch on the back needle knitwise
  19. And then, again, pay attention, and go through the adjacent stitch knitwise as well.

    going through the fifth stitch on the back needle knitwise to finish the 2x2 rib stitch graft repeat


Repeat steps 4-19
until you grafted all stitches in your row.

Notes

Remember to give your tail a little tug every two stitches. You want to create a seam that is neither too tight nor too loose. If your seam ends up looking a bit wonky nevertheless, you can use a tapestry needle and distribute the yarn a bit more evenly after you finished. Simply go through every stitch and pull out (or add) a bit of yarn as required.

The repeat is a bit difficult to remember. As you can see, there are 17 steps and 3 preparation steps. You can write it down on a bit of cardboard and put it in your project back.

Further tips & things to know

There is one important thing you need to know about this grafting technique. It will result in a little jog. If you look closely at the swatch above, you can see that the ribs don’t align perfectly and the two ribs are offset by half a stitch. And there is nothing to prevent that because you are joining two pieced together that have been knitted in a different direction.

It’s barely noticeable except you stretch things out really far. So, I think that’s something you can live it – especially as there is no alternative that looks better (at least to my knowledge).

Also, as I already said, you don’t necessarily need the stitches to be on your knitting needles when working the 2×2 rib graft.

preparing to graft ribbing

You can also use lifelines (or spare cables from a set of interchangeable knitting needles). Generally speaking, I think using your knitting needles creates better results as the barrel of your needles acts as a buffer. It prevents you pulling adjacent stitches too tight as you pull the yarn through.

But sometimes that is no option. And in that case, you have to adjust the instructions above a bit. First of all, you are not dropping any stitches, you can keep them on the lifeline and remove it afterward. Actually, that part makes it a bit easier. Instead, just remember this: You have to go into each stitch twice.

grafting ribbing around a lifeline

And here’s the second thing you need to remember. In most cases, the two pieces of 2×2 ribbing you want to join together will lay flat in front of you. This means the right side of the top part is facing you (and not the wrong side). As a result, the way you have to go in and out of the various stitches is upside down.

I mean, it’s still fairly easy to remember because it will still be knitwise. The only difference is the alignment of the loop.

Oh, and one more thing. Sometimes your ribbing doesn’t start with 2 knit stitches but with purl stitches. In these cases, you will have to adjust the repeat and start with step number 9 and (and skip 10).

And if there are selvage stitches, then you would have to graft however many knit or purl stitches you added before you start with the 2×2 ribbing. So, simply follow the instruction for the regular Kitchener stitch until the ribbing repeat starts.

Further reading material:

Anyways, that’s everything you need to know about grafting 2×2 ribbings. Comment below in case you have any questions.

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