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My Favorite Rib: 1×1 ktbl

I love a good ribbed edge. On the brim of a hat, the edge of a pair of mittens or socks, or the cuff of a sweater. It has both form and function. It looks nice and tidy, and it creates a nice snug fit for your garments. Of all the different types of ribbing you can do (2×2, Fisherman’s, Shaker’s, Basketweave and the list goes on), my absolute favourite is the simple, humble, 1×1 rib ktbl (knit through the back loop).

Note: when I am talking about 1X1 rib in this article, I am always referring to 1X1 knit through the back loop, unless otherwise stated.

Appearance

To me, the 1×1 rib is elegant and tidy. The lovely, dainty stitches flow down into tight, neat little columns. No matter the garment that you are making, I think a 1X1 rib will always look great. 

1x1 Rib Technique

1×1 rib is achieved by alternating knit and purl stitches. For each successive row, you just keep knitting the knit stitches, and purling the purl stitches. This creates the characteristic columns of all ribbed edges. 

The great thing about this ribbed pattern is there is nothing complicated about it. If you can make a knit and purl stitch, you can do a 1×1 rib. Plus, it is great practice for beginners to alternate back and forth between the two stitches.

Key Tip!

The key to making the 1X1 rib beautiful is to knit the knit it through the back loop. What this does is twists the knit stitch, causing it to appear narrower and more tidier. For comparison, here is a 1X1 rib with regular knit stitches (left) and a 1×1 rib with the knit stitches knit through the back loop (right). It makes a world of difference. You can barely see the purl stitches in between when looking on the sample on the left. On the contrary, the knit stitches on the right look so spaced apart.

A small sample that I made for demonstration that has 1x1 rib with knit stitches knit regularly.
A sweater that I am currently working on, with a 1x1 ribbed edge with knit stitches knit through the back loop.

Many patterns explicitly say to knit through the back loop. However, even if they don’t write it in the pattern, I always do it to achieve that beautiful look.

The simple 1×1 rib ktbl is my favourite ribbed pattern. If you haven’t done it before, I hope you give it a try. And if you have a different favourite rib, I’d love to hear what they are in the comment section.

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