May 15th, 2012

Tuesday’s Knitting Tip – How to Knit Clean Stripes in Ribbing

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Thanks to Liz for providing such a simple, yet elegant knitting tip on how to deal with messy looking stripes in ribbing.

I learned this trick while taking a class at WEBS. I don’t think I’ll ever forget it as it is super simple and it yields great results.

If you’ve ever changed colors while knitting ribbing, you’ve no doubt noticed the unfortunate thing that happens in the purl columns. The purl bumps of one color end up showing through in the fabric of the other color, and it creates an unfortunate zig-zagging line. The good news is that there is an easy fix for this.

When you change colors in ribbing simply knit all the stitches for the first round; do not purl. After the first round you can go back to your rib pattern. The result is a very clean line between the two colors. And don’t worry… You won’t even notice that round of knit stitches. They blend in completely.

You can use this technique whether you are working flat or in the round. There are just a few things to take into consideration. The first is that your work must have a wrong side, since that row/round of knit stitches will appear as a garter ridge on the wrong side. As a result, this technique shouldn’t be used on reversible patterns.

The second is that this technique works best on stripes made up of more than two rows/rounds. If the stripe is only two rows then you are basically going back and forth between a knit row and a rib row, and that can affect the integrity of your ribbing.

If your pattern is appropriate for this technique then I suggest you try it. I think you will find, as I did, that it is a simple trick that makes a big difference.

– Liz


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Ecommerce Marketing Manager at WEBS - America’s Yarn Store
Dena started working at WEBS in 2006, shortly after she learned to knit. She also dabbles in crochet and weaving. She finds knitting complements her marathon and triathlon training really well.
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  • Betford2

    So, in the second picture, showing the back (purl) side, the first stripe shows the purl zig-zags, but the second one doesn’t. How’d you do that?

  • Dena

    The second photo is the same swatch looking at it from the “wrong side” or inside of the tube. The second (bottom) stripe in the second photo is made when you knit (on the right side) all of the stitches in the row/round when you change colors.

  • Betford2

    Right. But the two stripes look the same on the right side; it’s only on the wrong side that they’re different.

  • Riachjones

    Thank you for this tip. It will come in so handy this summer when i start on my kids’s winter hats and mittens.

  • Hayley pont

    Fab tip. Thankyou.

  • Dena

    The top stripes in the first and second photos look the same. You can see the zig-zagging line Liz talks about best in the second photo since the ribbing is stretched out more. The purl columns is where you see two colors overlapping each other, creating a messy looking stripe.

  • carole

    Thank you so much, Liz.  this solves a problem that has bugged my many times.

  • H T

    Genius!  Brilliant.  

  • Kim Frosaker

    Super helpful. Thank you

  • SM

    Nice! Will definitely use this technique.