How to Knit Sailor's Rib Stitch [Free Video Tutorial & Written Pattern!]

Don't be fooled by the name. Sailors Rib Stitch is NOT just for Sailors!

Sailor's Rib Stitch is a relatively simple 4 row repeat, that has bags of texture on both the right and wrong side of the work. The short pattern repeat makes it perfect for an adventurous beginner to tackle - especially as it introduces knitting through the back loop as a technique.

Although this stitch lays nice and flat, if you're not working it as part of a larger project I find it benefits from a couple of selvedge stitches at either end. I've left instructions on how I added a selvedge to my sample at the bottom of this pattern, but you could add whichever selvedge technique you like. Or you could even incorporate a larger border if you are using this pattern in part of a bigger project.

Sailors Rib stitch is not a reversible pattern, it does have a right and wrong side (see photo below). As you can see, the reverse is not messy in any way, and it actually does have a defined pattern in its own right. For that reason I treat this stitch as a reversible one, as both sides are equally as pretty as each other.

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written pattern

stitches used:

  • K - Knit
  • P - Purl
  • K1tbl - Knit 1 through the back loop.

Repeat rows:

Cast on: Cast on a multiple of 5+1. (I like to use the Long Tail Cast On)

Row 1 (RS): k1tbl, *p1, k2, p1, k1tbl* repeat from *to* until end of row.

Row 2: p1, *k1, p2, k1, p1* repeat from *to* until end of row.

Row 3: k1tbl, *p4, k1tbl* repeat from *to* until end of row.

Row 4: p1, *k4, p1* repeat from *to* until end of row.

Repeat rows 1-4 until project is the size you want it to be. Cast off in pattern on a Row 2.

tips for adding selvedge stitches

If you want to add selvedge stitches to help your work lay flat, then I suggest adding 2 stitches at either end. The selvedge is easy to work, the only change you will need to make to the four row repeat above is to knit the first 2 stitches of each row, and for the final two stitches of each row, you'll want to knit 1 and then slip the final stitch purl wise with the yarn in front.

My sample below has a 2 stitch selvedge worked in garter stitch, so you can see the effect it gives.

video tutorial

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