Overview: Ribbing Stitch Patterns

April 20, 2017

Crocheted Rib Stitch Patterns Did you ever think about how many different crocheted ribbings there exist? I think most of us just do whatever a pattern tells us - or you find a page telling you 'how to crochet a ribbing'. As in one ribbing.

Crocheted Rib Stitch Patterns

Being conscious about the different kinds of ribbing is an advantage, if you want to be able to change an existing pattern or make your own design.


If you recognize the images below, I wrote about ribbing in the Guide: Simple Rounded Hat II:II. Ribbing is just such a huge subject. So as part of my spring cleaning, I've rewritten this and given it the space it deserves.

Ribbing

Ribbing is a raised pattern, that can be decorative, but also flexible. This last word 'flexible' is the keyword today. Flexible ribbings play an important role in many garment projects. Whether it is used for brim, sleeves, collars or socks.

Ribbing is usually made horizontal or vertical. Meaning the ribs are made in either rows or columns.

Vertical Ribs - FPdc and BPdc

Crochet rib - FPdc n BPdc
If you want to continue working in the same direction as you did with... a hat, maybe..., this can be done with a stitch pattern, where you alternate front and back post stitches.

So the stitch pattern goes: BPdc, FPdc, PBdc, FPdc, PBdc, FPdc...
(BPdc = Back Post Double Crochet and FPdc = Front Post Double Crochet)

Repeat throughout the rounds, so that all BPdc stitches are aligned on top of each other. (If you turn, make sure you get BPdcs on top of the FPdcs and vice versa.)

This rib has a medium-good flexibility. When stretched, it will add up to 80-85% extra width/length. I think it works best with a pretty large hook, where the yarn is allowed to fill the empty space between the stitches. Though this also gives it a more open look.

You can also experiment with other combinations of the stitches. Like: BPdc 2, FPdc 1, BPdc 2, FPdc ...

You can find a guide for the stitches here: Front Post & Back Post Crochet.

Horizontal Ribs - in the Back Loop Only

Crochet rib - Back Loop Only
One of the more popular and possibly the largest group of rib stitch patterns is stitches done in the back loop only (BLO) of the previous stitches. These include:
  • Slip stitches (ss) in the back loop
  • single crochet (sc) in the back loop
  • half double crochet (hdc) in the back loop
  • double crochet (dc) in the back loop
Plus the variant:
  • half double crochet (hdc) in the loop behind/below the back loop
    (or in the loop in front of/below the front loop)
All of these work very well. Some adds up to 100% width/length to your work, when stretched.

You might know some of these already. If you tend to use the same all the time, try another to see the difference. Or try to mix two of them.

Horizontal Ribs - FPdc or BPdc

Crochet rib - FPdc OR BPdc
When you do this ribbing you choose to do rows of either Front Post Double Crochet or Back Post Double Crochet*.

My sample in the image can only add around 65-70% with/length, when stretched. But I tried a larger hook also and that adds more flexibility. At least up to 80-85%.

*Actually you can experiment with combos of stitches. Like rows of:
  1. dc
  2. FPdc
  3. BPdc
  4. BPdc
  5. FPdc
     
    Repeat row 2-5. 
A guide for the stitches can be found here: Front Post & Back Post Crochet.

Horizontal Ribs - Tunisian Top Stich

Crochet rib - Tunisian Top Stitch
The Top Stitch Ribbing is made from alternating rows of Top Stitches and Reversed Top Stitches. It is Tunisian crochet stitches, but they are very easy to do and can be made using a regular hook.

This ribbing has a more flat look, but it is also very strong with an excellent flexibility. The visual part of the pattern gets more distinct, if you use a relatively small hook.

It can add up to 90-100% when stretched. The flexibility of the stitches doesn't seem to change much with a larger versus smaller hook.

Another version of this ribbing uses only the Top Stitch OR the reversed Top Stitch. It will not look like ribs, but still be very flexible.

See more images and read about the Top Stitch Ribbing here. Also check out the tutorials for the Tunisian Top Stitch and the Reversed Top Stitch.

Note: From the feedback I've gotten, a few people have tried this once and didn't make it work right away (most said they would try again though). A lot more people tell me they LOVE this stitch pattern and use it all the time. So give it a go!

The light green yarn used for my sample images is
  • Baby Merino Wool, 50gr/175m (1.76oz /190yards).
  • Label recommends knitting needle 2.5 mm (US: B-1/C-2 · UK: 12-13).
  • I used hook size 4.5mm (US/UK 7).

What to Use When and Why?

I've done a lot of ribbing testing and I might as well confess, that I love my darling (the Tunisian Top Stitch Rib). It works for me every time, and so far it is the strongest and most flexible crocheted ribbing, I know. Previously I didn't always have luck with the regular crochet rib stitch patterns. But to be fair: When I am more methodical in my testing, they all work.

Make a Sample

I know. Samples aren't something most crocheters love to spend time doing. BUT, it can save you a lot of headache and improve your work a great deal. Make your own mini-testing, next time you need a ribbing. Try a couple of different kinds of ribbing. Use the same yarn - and when it makes sense - also the same hook for your samples.

Make a de-attached 8-10 cm (3-4 inch) long sample. Among others this will tell you:
  • if you got the right (ribbing) stitch pattern
  • the right hook size
  • how much it stretches
Different combinations of yarn weight, yarn type (wool/cotton/acrylic), hook size and tension can give you very different looks and flexibility. Sometimes a tighter work means less flexibility, but also a 'stronger' rib that pulls itself back together better.

Put your samples next to the hat edge or the shirt and see how the different stitch patterns line up next to each other.

Use what works best with your combination of hook, yarn, stitches and tension.

Final Tip: Count your stitches!
It is always a good advice, right? In this case because, when you crochet a ribbing while attaching it to a piece of garment, you might increase/decrease, if you confuse edge stitches with rib stitches.

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