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!
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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.
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.
You can use any weight yarn and matching needle size. In this tutorial 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 needle (US Size 13) here I use my circular knitting needle.
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.
Stitches / Abbreviations
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Now we'll use the knitted cast on to make our second stitch. Insert your right-hand needle tip in the stitch knitwise.
- Wrap the yarn counter clockwise around the right needle and pull up a long loop, but don't slip it off the needle.
- 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.
- 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 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.
- 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 and pull up a loop, slide it on to the left needle. You've cast on a knit stitch.
- 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.
- 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.
- We're looking at a knit first, so knit 1.
- 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.
- Slide that stitch, and the one in front of it off the needle.I use my index finger to keep the loose stitch secure.
- Pick up the first stitch and put it back on the left hand needle, then put the second stitch back on the needle. So the two stitches have switched places.
- Knit 1.
- Now you are looking at 2 purls, so purl 2.
- Next I'm looking at a knit and a purl. So knit the first one.
- And then it's time to switch the 2 stitches again. Rep steps 10 - 12.
- Now you knit 1 (so you have 2 knits in a row on the right needle), purl 2.
- Keep repeating steps 9 - 14 for all stitches.
- Now you have cast on in 2 x 2 rib and worked the first row in 2 x 2 ribbing.
- 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.
Then just bring the end stitches together and knit the first one. This joins them, and now we're knitting in a circle.
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.
Once you have finished your project use a yarn needle and the tail to seam the cast on and row 1.