How To Alternating Cable Cast On For 2 x 2 Rib

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The alternating cable cast-on is a great way to get your rib stitch pattern started. But what about a 2 x 2 ribbing? The good news is that you can use this same cast on, but there’s a second part once you get to row one!

What is it? The alternate cable cast-on is great for stitch patterns where you have alternating knit and purl stitches (hence the name). It makes a beautiful edge that blends right into those stitches which is perfect since rib patterns make a reversible fabric.

To get started you begin the exact same way you would for a 1 x 1 rib. Then on the first rib row you switch the second stitch and first stitches around so you can do 2 knits and 2 purls. Let’s learn how now!

28 stitches cast on for 2 x 2 ribbing.

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Yarn, hooks and needles on white table.

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Here is the alternating cable cast-on. It’s the same (at this stage) for both 1 x 1 rib and 2 x 2 ribbing.

Stitches on knitting needle with alternating cable cast on.

Just to give you an idea of what this classic ribbing pattern looks like, here’s my simple knit pumpkin pattern. 2 x 2 is a beautiful rib and makes a lovely hat pattern. This wider rib pattern looks amazing on the brim of hats, sweater cuffs and hems like in the Elena Sweater.

2 x 2 ribbing for pumpkin.


You can use any weight yarn and matching needle size. In this tutorial I’m using:


This cast on can be used when knitting flat and in the round.

If working 2 x 2 ribbing flat cast on a stitch multiple of 4, plus 2 if you want the beginning and end of the row to have the same stitches. For example start with 2 knits, then purl 2, then knit 2, then purl 2, etc and end the row with 2 knits to mirror the beginning (or vice versa if starting with purls).

If knitting 2 x 2 rib in the round be sure to cast on an even number of stitches. To use this cast on in the round we will work the cast on and row 1 flat (because of the stitch swapping it’s too fiddly). Then we’ll join in the round and sew up that little gap with the yarn tail.

Notice how the knits blends right in with cast-on edge.

This cast-on also gives you a nice edge whether you are looking at the right side or the wrong side of the fabric which is nice with reversible patterns.

Skill Level


Stitches / Abbreviations

US Terms

CO – cast-on

k – knit

p – purl


There are lots of steps to this technique so it’s helpful if you’re familiar with these too, but I also show you all you need to know in the tutorial.

How to make a slip knot.

We’ll use the knitted cast-on to start.

We will use the cable cast-on technique.

Knowing the alternating cable cast-on is essential as that is how we will get started.

Understanding the 2 x 2 rib stitch knitting pattern is very helpful and will make this easier.


Watch how to make this cast on in the video tutorial on my YouTube.

2 by 2 ribbing on needles with alternating cable cast on.

Alternating Cable Cast On For 2 x 2 Rib

Yield: 1
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Active Time: 30 minutes
Additional Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Difficulty: Intermediate
Estimated Cost: $1

Learn how to knit alternating cable cast for 2x2 ribbing.


  • Any yarn & matching needles. I'm using Lion Brand’s Wool Ease Thick and Quick #6 super bulky weight yarn (80% Acrylic; 20% Wool, 87 yd (80 m) per 140 g skein) in shade Fossil.


  • 9 mm (US Size 13) 36” circular needle.


  1. First we have to start with casting on the same as for 1x1 rib. Make a slip knot and place it on your left-hand needle. This counts as the first cast-on stitch. SInce the slip knot has a bump, we'll use it as a purl stitch.Slip knot on needle.
  2. Now we'll use the knitted cast on to make our second stitch. Insert your right-hand needle tip in the stitch knitwise.Right needle inserted to knit.
  3. Wrap the yarn counter clockwise around the right needle and pull up a long loop, but don't slip it off the needle.Loop pulled up on right needle.
  4. Slip this loop back on to the left needle. This counts as our knit stitch. And we're set up to begin the alternating cable cast on. From here we'll be inserting our needle between the stitches like in the cable cast on.
  5. For the next stitch we need a purl, so we'll bring the working yarn to the front, insert the needle between these 2 sts from the back to the front. Now wrap the yarn over the right needle Right needle inserted from back to front with yarn wrapped over for purl. and pull up a loop as you would to purl, but don't slide the stitch off the needle, instead slip it back on to the left needle. You've cast on a purl stitch.3 stitches on left needle.
  6. Next with the yarn in the back, insert the right needle between the last 2 sts from the front to the back, wrap the yarn over the needle Needle inserted from front to back. and pull up a loop, slide it on to the left needle. You've cast on a knit stitch.A loop pulled up on the right needle.
  7. Repeat steps 5 - 6 until the last stitch is cast on. Just remember the required number of stitches for 2x2 ribbing is a multiple of 4.
  8. Here we're looking at the front of the work and you can see the purl bumps will be further back and the knit stitches will stick out more. Stitches labeled with purl or knit for alternating cable cast on.
  9. We're looking at a knit first, so knit 1.
  10. The next stitch is a purl, but we need a knit, so insert your right needle tip purlwise into the 2nd stitch on your left needle.
  11. Slide that stitch, and the one in front of it off the needle.I use my index finger to keep the loose stitch secure.
  12. Pick up the first stitch and put it back on the left hand needle, then put the second stitch back on the needle.1st stitch is on left needle, slide 2nd stitch back on. So the two stitches have switched places.Cast on stitches switched next is knit, followed by 2 purls with labels and arrows.
  13. Knit 1.
  14. Now you are looking at 2 purls, so purl 2.2 cast on stitches for purl.
  15. Next I'm looking at a knit and a purl. So knit the first one.Cast on has knit, purl, knit order again.
  16. And then it's time to switch the 2 stitches again. Rep steps 10 - 12.Slide 2 off.
  17. Now you knit 1 (so you have 2 knits in a row on the right needle), purl 2.2 knits on right needle, 2 purl cast ons ready.
  18. Keep repeating steps 9 - 14 for all stitches. 28 stitches cast on for 2 x 2 ribbing.
  19. Now you have cast on in 2 x 2 rib and worked the first row in 2 x 2 ribbing.
  20. To continue working flat turn your work and knit 2 stitches, purl 2 stitches. Continue knitting the knits and purling the purls for the height of your ribbing.

To Knit 2 x 2 Ribbing In The Round With Alternating Cable Cast On

Using circular needles get started the same way as above: cast on all stitches, and switch row 1 to 2 x 2 rib.

To join in the round I'm using magic loop so I will set it up.Circular needles with stitches splits between for magic loop knitting.

Then just bring the end stitches together and knit the first one. This joins them, and now we're knitting in a circle.Knit first stitch to join in the round.

On the next row continue knitting in 2 x 2 rib pattern: knit 2, purl 2 around. Always knitting the knits and purling the purls.2 by 2 ribbing on needles with alternating cable cast on.

Once you have finished your project use a yarn needle and the tail to seam the cast on and row 1.Blue yarn needle through row 1 to seam.

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