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Jessica Joy

Knitwear designer and writer

How to Knit Tighter 2×2 Ribbing

Have you ever noticed baggy purl stitches in your 2×2 ribbing, specifically a slightly longer trailing yarn between a knit and a purl stitch? I have, and I found it really frustrating until I discovered this super cool trick.

How to Knit Tighter 2x2 Ribbing

Plant fibre yarns seem to accentuate the problem and combine that with loose purl stitches and the meandering motion of moving from a knit to a purl stitch, and the result is just plain saggy.

Have a go at this tutorial and make your ribbing pop!

There’s a written description down below the video, including how to do this when knitting in the round. If you enjoy this video, you can subscribe to my channel here.

For the first purl stitch of every p2 twist the working yarn clockwise around the front of the needle (opposite direction to normal). This effectively twists the stitch and hugs it in closer to the previous knit stitch. If you’re working flat, untwist this stitch on the return row by knitting through the back loop (the twisted purl stitch is now a knit stitch). At the same time keep wrapping every first purl stitch clockwise.

Tighter 2x2 ribbing

If you’re working in the round twist and untwist the same purl stitch by purling through the back loop on the alternate round. Happy days!

23 comments
  1. Sally says: 12 January 201411:49 am

    Thank you for making this tutorial, this will be really useful! :o)

  2. Sue says: 13 January 20149:59 am

    This is excellent! Came across the tip via Pinterest, and re-pinned it immediately. I will be doing this from now on on all my 2×2 ribbing.

  3. Alex says: 20 January 20143:47 pm

    Don’t know why I didn’t think of this myself. So obvious a solution to a very nagging problem. Thank you.

  4. mo says: 28 January 20146:24 pm

    Brilliant! I just finished a pair of socks with 2 x 2 ribbing and I don’t like the outcome – will now frog it all back and try it this way! Good timing! Thank you for sharing.

  5. Betsy Ann Dey says: 29 January 20148:18 pm

    This was an incredibly helpful lesson. I appreciate it very much. I am trying to understand how to do this method in the round. I’ll have to try it and see how I untwist a purl stitch.

  6. Elizabeth says: 7 February 20146:15 am

    Years ago, I made a slouchy hat out of alpaca yarn. The hat had a ribbed band, which stretched out over time. I’d be able to reshape it after washing, but it would just stretch out again due to the inelasticity of the yarn.
    I should have tried this technique! I know it would still stretch out a bit, but at least the ribbing would hold up a bit better!

    • Jess says: 24 February 20148:41 pm

      Yes – good point, Elizabeth! Alpaca isn’t very springy at all so this should help to hold it in shape a little better. Thanks!!

  7. Nina says: 23 February 20141:51 pm

    Thank you! I can’t wait to try this out.

  8. Bonny says: 18 March 20147:39 pm

    This is brilliant! I had the same problem as Elizabeth with the ribbing stretching out without springing back into shape. Only I used a Camel yarn instead of Alpaca but it behaved just like the Alpaca. I wish I knew this technique before I gave the hat away. I could have reworked the brim and saved it. Thank you for posting this tutorial :)

  9. Sandy says: 2 May 201410:01 pm

    I am so glad I landed on your tutorial and blog. You have some very pretty knitting projects and you explain techniques very well. I need all the help I can get, being a beginner @ everything. I need to learn how to make my knitting (or crocheting) look a bit more professionally finished and you are doing this. I love to knit and crochet and take every chance I have to try something new. I don’t like to keep doing the same thing over and over and never advancing. So I hope to obtain a lot of help from you.

    Thank you Again!

  10. Barbara says: 20 September 20147:01 pm

    If I’m knitting in the round, and on the first round I knit two and then purl in your modified style, what do I do on the second round when I come to the modified purl stitch? Do I knit two and then do the modified purl on the first purl stitch and purl normally on the second purl stitch, or do I knit the first two and then knit into the back of the first modified stitch?

    • Jess says: 21 September 201412:54 pm

      Hi Barbara, on the 2nd row you untwist the modified purl stitch from the previous row by purling into the back loop. As the right side of the work is always facing you, you only need to work the modified purl stitch every other row. I hope that makes sense – good luck!

  11. Rocky says: 30 September 20149:21 pm

    Thank you so much for this tutorial!! :)

  12. Sylvia. says: 9 December 20145:02 pm

    Thank you for this, I am sure I will find it very helpful and will try it soon.

  13. Kathleen says: 16 March 20154:00 pm

    This is a great tip! It also makes a neat edge when switching to reverse stockinette as a background for cables. Thanks for the reminder – I’ve switched to continental style since I first learned it so hopefully all the ptbl won’t take long to get used to.

  14. Arlene says: 7 January 20162:55 am

    This also works when cabling helps to avoid the loose boggy stitch at the edge of a cable cross.

  15. I was taught to knit this way as a child we called it German knitting I learned to knit in the !st grade durning world was 2 says: 5 March 20164:10 pm
  16. Roger says: 25 April 20162:52 am

    Jess, this is a follow-up question to your reply to Barbara above just to make sure I’m understanding correctly. When you’re doing the purl through the back loop on row two, this time the first purl wrap goes anti-clockwise, correct?

    In the round, as on a sock cuff, it would go like this…?
    R1 and all odd rounds: k2, p wrapping clockwise, p wrapping anti-clockwise
    R2 and all even rounds: k2, ptbl wrapping anti-clockwise, p wrapping anti-clockwise

  17. Jess says: 24 May 20168:01 am

    Hi Roger, sorry for the delay getting back to you – that’s exactly right! :)

  18. Patricia says: 28 July 20169:57 pm

    This was very, very helpful for me! It made a huge difference . But what if you were doing a single rib? Or a rib stitch with a more complicated pattern? How would I adjust then?

    • Jess says: 29 July 20169:41 am

      Hi Patricia, I don’t find single rib suffers as much with baggy stitches, but the principle would be the same if you want to see how it looks. Just wrap the purl stitches clockwise and (if you’re working flat) knit that stitch through the back loop on the following row. So glad you found this helpful! :)

  19. Susan Kaliszewski says: 24 June 20174:16 am

    When knitting a 2×2 rib in the round, I would like a demonstration of how to purl through the back loop. Thanks in advance. Susan

  20. Linda says: 26 March 20183:15 pm

    there is an easier way to get the same result simply pull tightly on your purl stitch

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