This tubular cast-on method for 2×2 rib starting with a stocking stitch foundation
There are different tubular cast-on methods for 1×1 or 2×2 ribs. Tubular cast-on methods are extremely satisfying because they create beautiful cast-on edges which roll from the right side to the wrong side of the rib. Tubular edges are quite elastic, so are suitable for hats, mittens and socks.
The following explanations and images are for those who knit right-handed, that is, your right hand is your working hand (regardless of which hand you use to hold the yarn) and you move your stitches move from the left to the right needle as you knit. If you knit left-handed, then take a look at my blog post: Tubular cast-on method for a 2×2 rib – a tutorial for knitting left-handed.
Remember, when you knit an item with a rib, you use needles a size or two smaller for the rib than the garment. This keeps the rib nice and elastic. When you work a stocking stitch tubular cast-on, you will also use the larger needles to knit a foundation strip in waste yarn. This type of cast-on method is much easier if the foundation strip is looser than the rib that follows.
Number of stitches
Since this cast on is for a 2×2 or double rib, I’m going to assume that you will always want an even number of stitches. Either you will start by knitting two stitches and end by purling two stitches (or vice versa), in which case your number of stitches is divisible by four, or you will start and end by knitting two stitches(or purling them), in which case your number of stitches is divisible by two, but not four.
The 2×2 tubular cast-on method always makes an odd number of stitches, so you will decrease one stitch in the first rib row. To calculate the number of stitches to cast on in waste yarn, divide by two then add one.
- Example 1: if you want 20 stitches in your rib (20 ÷ 2 = 10; 10 + 1 = 11), so cast on 11 stitches.
- Example 2: if you want 18 stitches in your rib (18 ÷ 2 = 9; 9 + 1 = 10), so cast on 10 stitches.
Instructions for the 2×2 tubular cast-on method
Start with some waste yarn
Using the larger needles, smooth waste yarn in a contrasting colour (mine is yellow cotton) and any cast-on method, cast on the required number of stitches (I’ve cast on 11 stitches because I want 20 stitches in my 2 x 2 rib).
Row 1: Knit.
Row 2: Purl.
Row 3: Knit.
Then, cut the waste yarn leaving a tail about 15 cm [6 inches] long.
In the photo below, you can see three rows of stocking stitch in waste yarn.
Pick up your project yarn
Change to your main yarn (mine is pink), then work two more rows as follows:
Row 4: Purl.
Row 5: Knit.
In the photo below, you can see there are now two rows of stocking stitch in project yarn.
Set up the 2×2 tubular rib
With the purl side facing you, identify the lowest row of purl bumps in the project yarn. These have purl bumps in waste yarn above and below them. It’s easier to identify the correct purl bumps if the two colours contrast well.
Using the smaller needle purl the first two stitches on the left needle.
Then, with yarn at back insert the right-hand needle into the first purl bump from top to bottom. This is the lowest horizontal strand in project yarn which lies below and between the first two stitches that you’ve already purled.
Slip this loop onto the left-hand needle, taking care that it is not twisted …
and knit the loop.
Then insert the right-hand needle into the second purl bump from top to bottom. This purl bump lies below and between the last stitch you purled (on the right-hand needle) and the next stitch on the left-hand needle.
Slip this loop onto the left-hand needle, taking care that it is not twisted, then knit it.
You may find it easier to insert the left-hand needle bottom to top, in which case, it’s already on the left-hand needle, so just knit it. I usually use one needle for the first purl bump and the other needle for the second one.
Continue to work across the row, purling two stitches from the left-hand needle, then picking up and knitting the next two purl bumps. If you started with an odd number of stitches in waste yarn, you’ll end the row by purling the last stitch. Whereas, if you started with an even number of stitches, you’ll end by knitting a purl bump. Either way, you will finish with an odd number of stitches.
Here is the wrong side.
Work the 2×2 rib
In all cases, you work the rib by knitting the “knits” and purling the “purls” as established in the set-up row.
For a number of rib stitches divisible by four
Remember, I said that, If you wanted your rib stitches to be divisible by four, then you had to cast on an odd number of stitches in waste yarn (eleven in my example). Therefore, if you wanted 20 stitches in your rib (20 ÷ 2 = 10; 10 + 1 = 11), you had to cast on 11 stitches. You will have made 21 stitches. So without decreasing the first two rows will be:
Row 1 (RS): K1; * p2, k2; rep from * to end. 21 sts
Row 2 (WS): * P2, k2; rep from * to last st, p1.
You could decrease at the beginning of the row:
Row 1 (RS): P2tog, p1, k2; * p2, k2; rep from * to end. 20 sts
Row 2 (WS): * P2, k2; rep from * to end.
Row 3 (RS): * P2, k2; rep from * to end.
or at the end of the row:
Row 1 (RS): K1; * p2, k2; rep from * to last 4 sts, p2, k2tog. 20 sts
Row 2 (WS): P1, k2; * p2, k2; rep from * to last st, p1.
Row 3 (RS): K1; * p2, k2; rep from * to last 3 sts, p2, k1.
For a number of rib stitches divisible by two, not four
Remember, I said, that if you wanted your rib stitches to be divisible by two, but not four, then you had to cast on an even number of stitches in waste yarn. Therefore, if you wanted 18 stitches in your rib (18 ÷ 2 = 9; 9 + 1 = 10), you had to cast on 10 stitches. You will have made 19 stitches. So without decreasing the first two rows will be:
Row 1 (RS): P1, k2; * p2, k2; rep from * to end. 19 sts
Row 2 (WS): * P2, k2; rep from * to last 3 sts, p2, k1.
And again, you could decrease at the beginning of the row:
Row 1 (RS): K2tog, k1; * p2, k2; rep from * to end. 18 sts
Row 2 (WS): * P2, k2; rep from * to last 2 sts, p2.
Row 3 (RS): K2; * p2, k2; rep from * to end.
or at the end of the row:
Row 1 (RS): P1; * k2, p2; rep from * to last 2 sts, k2tog. 18 sts
Row 2 (WS): P1, * k2, p2; rep from * to last st, k1.
Row 1 (RS): P1; * k2, p2; rep from * to last st, k1.
Below, you can see what the 2×2 tubular cast-on looks like after a few rows. The stocking stitch worked in the waste yarn is still attached.
Remove the waste yarn
Use a spare needle to remove the waste yarn. Start at the cut end of the waste yarn and tease it out of the rib one stitch at a time.
You don’t need to undo all the waste yarn, just the row you worked last. If you are going to be casting on a second piece with the same number of stitches, you could pop the stocking stitch band onto a stitch holder to reuse later (you would need to rework row 3).
Here’s the finished rib with that lovely tubular cast-on edge.
And here you can see how the knit stitches roll round the tubular edge. It’s not quite as effective as the tubular cast-on method for a 1×1 rib, but it’s still very knitterly!
Remember to change to larger size needles for the rest of the project!