Curious about different ways to crochet ribbing? In this tutorial, we’ll look at the two main types of crochet ribbing techniques.
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What is Ribbing?
Ribbing is a stretchy, elastic fabric characterized by vertical ridges. These vertical ridges help to give the material its elasticity. Knitted or crocheted ribbing is reversible, meaning there is no right side or wrong side to the fabric. Both sides look the same. In this post, we’re going to be focusing on different techniques for making crocheted ribbing.
Note: This article describes the crochet stitches and abbreviations in US terms.
The 2 Types of Crochet Ribbing
Ribbing can be crocheted with many different stitches, but crochet ribbing generally falls into one of two categories.
Post Stitch Ribbing
The first type of ribbing is worked from the bottom up, and uses post stitches to create the ribbed texture.
What are post stitches?
A post stitch is created by working a regular crochet stitch around the post of the stitch below. the post of a stitch is the vertical, column-shaped part. To work a post stitch, we insert our hook in front of or behind the post of the stitch we are working into, rather than inserting the hook into the top of the stitch as usual. You can work most crochet stitches around the post of the stitch below.
The post stitches most often used for ribbing are front and back post half-double crochet, front and back post double crochet, and front and back post triple crochet.
To create post stitch ribbing, you’ll need to know how to work both a front post stitch and a back post stitch. In the video tutorial, I’ll show you how to work the front post double crochet (fpdc) and the back post double crochet (bpdc).
Front post stitches pop to the front of the fabric, while back post stitches recede to the back of the fabric. By alternating the front post and back post stitches, we can make a ribbed fabric with deep ridges in it.
Post stitch ribbing is pretty stretchy. It is also a bit bulkier than regular crochet fabric.
I used post stitch ribbing in my Puff Stitch Hat Crochet Pattern.
Sideways Ribbing (in the Back Loop Only)
The second type of crochet ribbing is worked sideways. This means that the ribbing is worked back and forth in rows as normal, but then the piece is turned on its side so that the ridges run vertically.
Sideways ribbing can be worked with many crochet stitches as well. To make the ridges, we typically work our rows of crochet stitches in the back loop only (BLO).
Instead of inserting our hook into both strands of the sideways V-shape that makes the top of the crochet stitch below, we only insert our hook under the strand that is further away from us. This leaves the front loops unworked.
When we work every stitch of each row in the back loop only, it causes the whole row to recede to the back. Working back and forth in rows in this manner creates the ridges characteristic of ribbing.
Back loop only ribbing can be worked with any of the basic crochet stitches, but the ribbing is stretchier and more elastic when using stitches that are shorter in height. My favorite stitches to use for back loop only ribbing are the slip stitch, yarn over slip stitch, and single crochet stitches. Slip stitch (sl st) in the back loop only produces a ribbing that looks the most like knitting, but back loop only single crochet (BLO sc) is my favorite of all the crochet ribbing stitches.
One thing to consider when using a back loop only ribbing in a project is the direction in which the rest of your project will be worked.
For instance, if you want to crochet a sweater from the bottom up, and you want ribbing at the hem, you will need to work your narrow strip of ribbing first. Since this type of ribbing is worked sideways, the strip of ribbing should be as long as the width of your finished piece. Then, you would turn the ribbing strip sideways and crochet a row of stitches into the ends of the ribbing rows. This would establish your first row of the main piece of the project, and you could then continue working back and forth from the bottom up.
This technique can also be used to add ribbing to a beanie hat brim, sweater cuffs, or any other project where you would want to work ribbing at the beginning of the piece.
Another option for adding ribbing to a project is to add the ribbing after the rest of the project is finished. To do this, you create a strip of sideways ribbing, joining it to the project as you go by slip stitching into the edge of the project at the end of every other ribbing row.
As much as I love back loop only single crochet ribbing, I also enjoyed using yarn over slip stitch (yoslst) in the back loop only to create the ribbed texture on the braids of the Intertwine Pullover Crochet Pattern. This stitch creates a different look, with a similar amount of stretch as back loop only single crochet.
Sideways Ribbing in the Third Loop
There is another technique that can be used to create sideways ribbing. This creates a different look and feel than working into the back loop only. The technique is often called working into the 3rd loop. It is commonly used to make half double crochet ribbing, by avoiding both loops on the top of the stitch and working into what is called the ‘third loop’ on the back of the previous row of half double crochet stitches (hdc). This technique also looks like knitting, but with a different texture than other ribbing techniques. I have a separate tutorial on how to make this kind of ribbing here.
Tips for Crocheting Ribbing
One of the most important factors that contributes to a neat, stretchy ribbing is your tension. If your crochet tension or gauge is on the looser side, the ribbing will not have as much elasticity. Sometimes, your pattern instructions may tell you to use a smaller hook size for the ribbing portion of a project to help avoid this problem. However, if your tension is not loose, you may not need to change your hook size to get a nice, elastic ribbing.
Tension doesn’t just affect the stretchiness of the ribbing. It also affects how neat and professional it looks. When crocheting ribbing, it is important to pay attention to the first and last stitch of your rows. If the first and last stitch are too loose, the edges of the ribbing can look a little messy and uneven. You may find it helpful to tug the loop on your hook slightly after working the first stitch and the last stitch of the row to help make those edge stitches a little smaller.
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Crochet Ribbing FAQs
This is a matter of opinion, but my favorite crochet stitch for ribbing is the back loop only single crochet. I think it is the most beginner-friendly technique for crocheting ribbing, and it creates a stretchy, elastic fabric with a nice texture.
Sideways / Back Loop Only ribbing tends to be the easiest ribbing technique for beginner crocheters, as it only requires a slight change from the way the stitches are normally worked. Post stitch ribbing can be a little more difficult to work, as it requires identifying and working around the posts of the stitches rather than in the top of the stitch as normal.
Post stitch ribbing is pretty stretchy, but sideways ribbing can be very stretchy and elastic as well. When working ribbing sideways in the back loop only, the shorter the stitch, the more elastic the fabric will be. So the stretchiest stitches for sideways ribbing are back loop only slip stitch, back loop only yarn over slip stitch (this is also called half-double slip stitch), and back loop only single crochet.