How to Knit Corrugated Ribbing For Colorwork Hats

Katie's kept tan corrugated rib colorwork knitting

The last few hats I have knit have had brims with corrugated ribbing. You can see it on this page in the Katie’s Kep and Tettegouche (links to pattern below too). This type of rib is worked as a purl 2, knit 2 around, switching colors between the knits and purls. It is often used in Fair Isle, stranded knitting designs and the yarn is held in two hands.

Begin by Making a Nice Cast-on

When I began knitting, I hurried through my cast-ons so I could get started with the project. I only knew one simple cast-on, and it was not a good one for hats. Now I use the Old Norwegian, or German Twisted, cast-on, which is the same thing as far as I can tell. It makes a loose, stretchy first row so the hat won’t be tight around the forehead. It’s also a fast cast-on once you get the hang of it.

A good wool such as Rauma or Shetland (Jamieson & Smith), in fingering weight is suggested for this type of hat knitting.

Once the stitches are cast onto a 16 inch circular needle, in the size your pattern calls for, join them with the stitches straight and even, making sure there is no twist. I use the drop and switch method of joining, where each stitch at the end of the needles are swapped. Then, place a marker to remember this is the beginning of the round – BOR.

Since I first wrote this page I have found a helpful page at TECHknitting: Corrugated ribbing tricks and tips. They explain corrugated ribbing and it’s uses and potential curling problem. Also they have an interesting section about how to handle purling the colors.

Begin the Rib – this is how I chose to do it.

Once the cast on is complete DO NOT KNIT AROUND – go right into the knits and purls. Doing a solid knit row before the ribbing will cause the edge to curl up.

For the first round, begin with the main color (it was tan for my hat) held in the right hand (for knitting English style) and purl two stitches. Move the yarn to the back of the work. Now add the new color (orange in the hat pictured) and knit two stitches while the yarn is held in your left hand, Continental style. Bring the MC, (tan yarn) to the front and purl two – and so on. I will be using those two colors for the entire round.

Corrugated ribbing knit on the brim of a hat
The brim of this hat is knit in 2×2 corrugated rib

Don’t forget to move the yarn to the back of the work once the two purl stitches are made! ….I made this mistake and had to begin over.

For my Katie’s Kep #2 (above), my first CC (contrast color) is orange and I did three rows before I added the second contrast color, which is light blue. Every row is knit the same way with the MC (tan) held in my right hand and the CC in the left. I do it like this because I can’t purl using my left hand.

Holding the yarn correctly is important in colorwork knitting. Using two hands becomes quite easy with practice. Using two hands means the yarn will stay on top (right hand yarn, or Main Color) and on bottom (left, Contrast Color). Doing this makes the CC stand out. Sometimes a pattern will ask you to knit the main color and then purl the contrast color – which keeps the main color prominent.

See it below in the first Katie’s Kep I knit which has a dark blue background (MC).

Katie's Kep Fair Isle hat
Katie’s Kep Fair Isle hat begins with a corrugated rib around the brim.

Learn to Knit Using Two Hands

If you don’t know how to do this type of knitting using two hands, look for a good video that shows you how. And then practice! Colorwork is easiest when knit in the round. In fact, personally, I don’t know how to do it any other way.

Then, you will just need to know how to carry those floats when colors become more spaced apart in a row – but you won’t have to do (much of) that on these hats!

Colorwork is in chart form, FYI.

Love Katie’s Kep? Download the pattern for free here.

The hat below is called Tettegouche, and the pattern for this one can be purchased at Ravelry. Believe me, the other hats look a lot better than mine. I used colors on hand and they are not the greatest combination. You can see the use of the corrugated rib again.

Tettegouche hat pattern
Finished Tettegouche

My last word on the corrugated rib is that it is less stretchy than a 1×1 or 2×2 regular hat rib. It’s meant to be sturdy and pretty at the same time. Often a smaller needle is used for this type of brim and then you switch over to a larger size for the top of the hat. A wool yarn in fingering weight is suggested.

8 thoughts on “How to Knit Corrugated Ribbing For Colorwork Hats

  1. TyBachTwt

    Very interesting piece. I think it covers a lot of the issues beginners such as myself would encounter when starting a project on small circular needles. So many websites assume you know this stuff too readily. Dealing with problems and suggestions of how to get round them is a great way to learn and improve your knitting. And especially to try circular needles if you normally do flat knitting. Many thanks. The finished gloves are really lovely by the way.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Pam

      Thanks very much for the comment and compliment. I agree that encountering problems is a great way to learn. Thank goodness for knitting forums and YouTube!


      1. TyBachTwt

        Hi, many thanks for the reply. I should have left my comment in the fair isle mittens section but must have been reading about the corrugated ribbing on the hat when I sent it. Very much enjoy your site as it feels as if you’re learning along with you as you try things out. Nice patterns and clear photos too. Thank you.

        Liked by 1 person

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