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A survival guide to knitting uneven rib stitches

by Fiona Stevenson

Hi again, Knitters! I’m back this week to talk about an intriguing and beautiful knitting project: Willowworks Cowl. I chose Universal Yarn Deluxe Worsted Superwash wool for this cowl, because the colors called to me: Pomegranate Heather and Azure Heather.

Universal Yarn Deluxe Worsted Superwash’s rich combination of deep red and slightly teal blue is show-stopping. This cowl is a stranded knitting project with just a hint of cabling and twisted stitches to create a gorgeous criss-cross design. But I had a bit of a struggle getting to the exciting bit due to the rib knitting roadblock.

I was really looking forward to working the stranded section of the Willowworks Cowl, but to get there I was forced to face my knitting nemesis: the rib stitch. It’s not that rib stitch is difficult, it’s just so very tedious. What I really can’t stand is a rib pattern that isn’t equally divided between knit and purl stitches like, say, a 1×1 rib. Of course, the Willowworks would have an uneven rib border! And, of course, it would be essential to keep the rib pattern as written instead of changing it to a 2×2 ribbing. So, I took a deep breath, and braced myself for a couple hours of excruciating boredom.

Now, when faced with this ribbing section it was essential that I get the set up first-round right, so I could choose to half-concentrate on the following ones. Once I had it straight, I was free to find a nice distraction to make the time fly by for the rest, stitch by partially-noticed stitch.

Willowworks Cowl knits up beautifully in Universal Yarn’s Deluxe Worsted Superwash wool- Pomegranate Heather & Azure Heather

My first solution to the rib knitting dilemma was to lean on my LYS’s knitting group. Their encouragement and fun conversation carried me through the cast on border. There’s nothing like the company of fellow knitters who feel my pain, can commiserate, and help distract me by sharing their stories of knitting trials and triumphs.

The second rib section at the end of the project occurred when no knitting group was available. Enter streaming services offering plenty of binge-watching opportunities. Because this pattern wasn’t as intuitive as an even rib pattern, I had to choose something to watch that I’d seen before since I had to be able to concentrate a little to avoid mistakes. The last thing I wanted was to have to frog and reknit those dreaded rib stitches! I chose Shetland which is my favorite crime drama show. Although it wasn’t entirely painless the intrigue of a good story helped pass the time, and before I knew it, I was ready to bind off.

Knitting group to the rescue. Tea and laughter makes knitting rib stitches a pleasure…almost.

Although the unusual rib pattern caused a little discomfort to me, the results were well worth the effort. So, find your favorite co-knitting activity: conversation with friends, music, audio books, TV, movies, or cuddling up with your pet. These sweet comforts can make even the most dreaded knitting challenge a little easier. Then bite the bullet, and make the extra effort for this well designed cowl pattern.

Snowy the dog keeps me company as I work through the rib section of the Willowworks Cowl.

Tomorrow, I’ll show you how to gauge the Willowworks Cowl in the round with a technique that reduces the amount of time and effort needed to create an accurate measurement.

Later in the week, the adventure continues with Universal Yarn Deluxe Worsted Superwash I’ll offer tutorials for some of the special stitch patterns in this project, so you can jump into the colorwork with confidence, and finish the rib section with the perfect loose bind off. Finally, on Friday, I will help you avoid meeting your holiday knitting goals by laughing at mine.

Willowworks Cowl – totally worth the ribbing!

This is part 1 of 5 in this series.

Go to part 2: Willowworks Cowl: how to knit a quick gauge swatch in the round


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