How to Knit Ribbing on Circular Needles

By Pam Hillestad ; Updated September 15, 2017

Knitted ribbing is a perfect way to edge your projects, from the bottom edges of sweaters and sleeves to the cuffs on mittens and socks and even the collar of a sweater. Knitting ribbing on circular knitting needles makes life a bit simpler, as there will be no finishing seams to tackle. Learning how is an easy process and you will quickly find that you are ready to give up your straight needles entirely.

Things Needed

  • Circular knitting needles of an appropriate size, making sure that the circumference of the needles is smaller than the circumference of the pattern, or you will stretch your yarn and stitches.

  • Specified yarn for your project
  • A knitting pattern
  • A small plastic or metal marker

Cast on stitches

Cast on the number of required stitches for your pattern in the same way that you would cast on using straight knitting needles. Make sure that your stitches are not twisted by checking that the cast on edge runs all the way around the bottom when you are holding a needle in each hand.

Straighten stitches

Spread the stitches evenly out on the flexible wiring of your circular knitting needle. Make sure there are no twists and that the cast on/hanging edge of the stitch faces the center of the circle or the bottom.

Warning

Be very careful to make sure your stitches aren't twisted after you finish your cast on and prepare to start your first row. Sometimes it helps to lay the piece out flat to look at it, before bringing the stitches into a circle.

Join the row

Hold your needle so that the beginning edge of the circle is in your left hand and the final/yarn edge is in your right hand. Place the plastic or metal marker on the right hand stitch to mark the beginning of the row. If you do not have a marker, a small circle of another color yarn will do nicely.

Knit the first row

Knit the first stitch from the left side to the right, pulling yarn taut so that there is no gap. If you would like to use a single rib pattern, knit 1, purl 1 across the row. If you would like to use a double rib, knit 2, purl 2 across the row. Follow the pattern until you reach the marker.

Tip

Double-check at the end of each of the first few rows to make sure there are no accidental twists.

Continue the pattern

Slip marker from left needle to right needle and continue the pattern. This is perhaps the best part of using circular needles -- when you are ribbing in straight needles you have to reverse the pattern, so that if you K1, p1 across row 1, then you turn and P1, k 1 across row 2. On circular needles you simply continue to K1, p1 around the until your work has reached the desired length.

Make sure your circular needles are smaller than the finished length of the pattern, or you will stretch your yarn and stitches.

Variations

knit 3, purl 1

knit 4, purl 2

knit 4, purl 4

Twisted Rib: Knit 1 through back loop, purl 1 and repeat across.

Corrugated Rib: Use two colors. Knit in 1 color and purl in the alternate color across. Keep the second color of yarn at the back of the work when not actively in use.

About the Author

Long-time writer, quilter, knitter, crocheter and all-around crafter, Pam Hillestad also teaches high school English, and helps high school seniors get in touch with their creative genius before they head out into the real world.