Half-Stitch Seaming in 1×1 Ribbing

This is the second of five posts in a series on sewing ribbing.

Jump to full-stitch seaming in 1×1 ribbing, half-stitch seaming in 2×2 ribbing, or full-stitch seaming in 2×2 ribbing.

(In this series of posts, “half-stitch seam” means any seam that consumes half a stitch from each edge, and “full-stitch seam” means any seam that consumes a full stitch from each edge. See the first post for more information.)

The Options

There are two set-ups for working public-side rows of 1×1 ribbing. We can

  1. start with K1 and end with P1
  2. start with K1 and end with K1

Let’s look at both options. (Scroll to the bottom if your ribbing instructions start with P1 instead of K1.)

Option 1: Start with K1 and End with P1

We’ll use some stylized stitches that show the ribbing situation at the wearer’s left side.



A half-stitch seam will consume the parts of the stitches shown in gray below,



leaving us with



Let’s “sew” those stitches together.



Still not convinced? Let’s remove the stitches not involved with the seam.



That result is trying to force the left half of a knit stitch to make nice with the right half of a purl stitch. It will not be neat, invisible, or any other desirable property of a seam in a handknit garment.

Option 2: Start with K1 and End with K1

The beginning of the front won’t change, but the end of the back will change from






The two gray halves will disappear in the half-stitch seam,



leaving half a stitch on each side.



We’ll wind up with this result:



Since the stitches alternate knit and purl, the seam will be as invisible as a seam can be.

The other body side seam and the sleeve underarm seams will work exactly the same way.

Adjusting a Project’s Instructions

Since we need 1×1 ribbing to start and end with K1 if we want to use half-stitch seams, then if our sweater’s instructions have 1×1 ribbing that ends with P1 on a public-side row, the fix is easy. We just cast on one more stitch at the end, then work it as a public-side knit for the entire length of the ribbing.

When We Start the Body or Sleeve

Sweater instructions often have us work the ribbing on fewer stitches than the main fabric of the body and sleeves, to help the edges remain snug. Then we usually increase up to the proper number of stitches in the first row after the ribbing.

If we had to add a stitch in the ribbing cast-on so that public-side rows ended K1, then we increase one less stitch than the instructions specify for the increase row, because we already have an extra stitch in the ribbing.

If the Ribbing Starts with P1

I suppose there are sweater designs that start the ribbing with P1 instead of K1. All of the above will apply, except that we have to swap “knit” for “purl” and “purl” for “knit” everywhere.

Jump to overviewfull-stitch seaming in 1×1 ribbing, half-stitch seaming in 2×2 ribbing, or full-stitch seaming in 2×2 ribbing.

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