Ribbed stitches are extremely versatile and work in pretty much any yarn or project. You can create beautiful hats, scarves, cowls, blankets, and sweaters using a version of ribbing.
Unlike a simple stockinette stitch (knit on the right side and purled on the wrong side), ribbing won’t curl in on itself as much. (The wider the rib, the more the outer stockinette panel will curl. You can see this happening in some of the photos.)
Note: Stockinette curls due to an imbalance in the amount of yarn used for each stitch. A knit stitch and a purl stitch use slightly different amounts of yarn. This is why stockinette will always curl towards the purl side of the fabric
While ribbing may not curl to the extent of stockinette, it does “scrunch” in. You can tell from the photos below how much the rib fabric pulls in over something like stockinette lace. The two swatches were both worked using Color Made Easy knit on US 11 knitting needles with a 27-stitch cast on.
The swatch below the ribbed swatch is the Winter Lace Stitch.
Here we’re looking at a very wide version of the stitch: 5×5 ribbing. (The name “5×5” indicates that there are 5 knit stitches and 5 purl stitches to form the pattern.) It’s very generic and can be easily modified. The 5×5 rib is a multiple of 10 for the pattern (plus 5 when worked flat). You could also do the standard 2×2 rib (multiple of 4 + 2), a 3×3 rib (multiple of 6 + 3), a 4×4 rib (a multiple of 8 + 4)… See a pattern?
There is a point where ribbing becomes “too wide.” The outer knit portion will being to curl in just as stockinette fabric does.
Cast on a multiple of 10 + 5 stitches
The swatch shown is a cast on of 25 sts + 2 additional stitches that are slipped to form a selvedge edge. (This is when you slip the first stitch of every row.)
Row 1: Knit 5, *purl 5, knit 5; rep from * to end of row.
Row 2: Purl 5, *knit 5, purl 5; rep from * to end of row.
Continue working rows 1 & 2 for pattern.
Cast on a multiple of 10 stitches
When you work ribbing in the round every round will be the same
Rnd 1: *Knit 5, purl 5; repeat from * to end of round
Continue working this round to form pattern.