Many beginner knitting projects have a combination of 2 or more easy knitting stitches: for example, rib stitch & garter stitch (or stockinette stitch). The reason behind it is that you need the flexibility of the rib pattern to finish the edges of a blanket, sleeves on a cardigan, or the edge on a hat. You absolutely have to master simple rib stitches in order to understand and successfully implement many knitting patterns for beginners.
If you are new to knitting, start with simple knit & purl stitches. After you’ve achieved speed and can do these stitches with ease, you are ready to try a simple rib pattern. What is a rib stitch? It is combination of knit and purl stitches that creates a stretchy knitted fabric with vertical columns.
1 x 1 ribbing
If you are alternating 1 knit stitch & 1 purl stitch, you have 1×1 rib. It almost looks like a stockinette stitch, but without curling on the edges. If you stretch it a little bit, you’ll see purl stitches on the background as little horizontal lines. Without stretching, you only see knit stitches, as the vertical knit columns contract, hiding purl stitches. This simple rib pattern is very versatile as it creates the knitted fabric that looks the same on both sides. Though each purl stitch looks like a knit stitch on the other (wrong) side and each knit stitch is a purl stitch on the other side, you end up with the same-looking pattern on both sides. It makes it perfect for reversible projects: easy baby blanket knitting patterns or scarf knitting patterns.
2 x 2 ribbing
By alternating 2 knit stitches with 2 purl stitches you create another basic rib pattern that is very popular for scarves, headbands, and hats. With two vertical columns of side-by-side knit stitches surrounded by two columns of purl stitches you’ll have a more pronounced rib pattern that is stretchy but not as stretchy as fisherman rib.
After that, you can experiment with 3 x 3 ribbing, 4 x 4 ribbing, etc – feel free to create the rib pattern that fits best your easy knitting projects. The rib doesn’t have to repeat the same number of alternating knit & purl stitches: it can be 3 x 2 (3 knit stitches by 2 purl stitches) or 2 x 4 (2 knit stitches by 4 purl stitches). Be creative and you can come up with your own simple knitting patterns for scarves, blankets, baby blankets, or warm winter throws.
In a way, knitting is like playing music: first you learn the basic notes and then you can play simple melodies alternating this notes. The more notes (stitches) you learn, more complex your music (patterns) will be.