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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13 Responses to “Tuesday’s Knitting Tip – How to Knit Clean Stripes in Ribbing”

  1. Betford2 Says:

    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?

  2. Dena Says:

    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.

  3. Betford2 Says:

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

  4. Riachjones Says:

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

  5. Hayley pont Says:

    Fab tip. Thankyou.

  6. Dena Says:

    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.

  7. carole Says:

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

  8. H T Says:

    Genius!  Brilliant.  

  9. Kim Frosaker Says:

    Super helpful. Thank you

  10. SM Says:

    Nice! Will definitely use this technique.

  11. Tay Says:

    So just to clarify as I’m a new knitter. Does this work for flat knitting and colour change on a full knit row then in my pattern the next row would start with a purl so is that the way to continue pls

  12. Elaine Whitlock Says:

    I am making DROPS design 75-18 with yarn I purchased from Webs. I am hoping you have a technique to eliminate the previous color showing when changing colors purl wise in the round. Pattern calls for a P2K2 ribbing up each side of the sweater and some of the color changes are only one row, or two rows. Will the above technique work if changing colors every row or every other row? Thank you

  13. Ashley Fonseca Says:

    Thank you so much!

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