Mess Up on Purpose With the Mistake Rib Stitch

Mistake rib stitch tutorial

Learn the mistake rib stitch in knitting with this easy-to-follow tutorial.

Sometimes, we make mistakes only to discover that the mistake results in something new and wonderful! Have you ever worked a rib and later found that you knitted a purl or purled a knit and messed up the stitch a bit? The mistake rib stitch takes advantage of that accident by turning it into a pretty stitch.

The mistake rib stitch is similar to traditional ribbing except that you’ll cast on an odd number of stitches and shift that rib one stitch over. This gives the mistake rib stitch a beautiful texture that doesn’t shrink up as much as your usual ribbing. There’s no right or wrong side; it’s a reversible stitch that works great for accessories like scarves.

If you can knit and purl, you can stitch mistake rib! Get step-by-step instructions for knitting the mistake rib stitch and start incorporating it into some of your reversible knitting. Want some patterns with this stitch? Check some out here. 

Mistake Rib Stitch Pattern

Once you master the stitch, you can use this pattern to stitch the mistake rib any time.

Multiple: 4 stitches plus 3

Row 1: *K2, P2; repeat from * to last 3 stitches, K2, P1.

Repeat Row 1 until you have reached the desired length.

Mistake Rib Stitch Tutorial

Let’s break down how this stitch looks as you’re working it.

To begin, you can cast on any multiple of four, plus three extra stitches. So, for example, you could cast on 11, 15, 19, etc. For this tutorial, I’ve cast on 15 stitches.

Mistake rib stitch cast-on

The first row of mistake rib is very similar to the usual ribbing, where you’re knitting and purling across in pairs. Knit the first two stitches on the needle, just as you would for a K2 P2 rib.

Knitting the first two stitches of mistake rib

Now purl the next two stitches.

Repeat that K2, P2 across the row until there are three stitches left on the needle. Knit two stitches and purl the last stitch.

First completed row of the mistake rib stitch

Flip your work to begin Row 2. Row 2 is identical to Row 1, but keep in mind that this is not like the usual ribbing where you’d knit the knit stitches and purl the purl stitches.

If you look at the stitches on your needle after you’ve flipped it, you’ll see that the first stitch is a knit stitch while the next two are purl stitches. However, the stitch pattern will still be K2, P2, just as it was for the first row.

Mistake rib stitch beginning Row 2

Knit the first two stitches, noticing that you put a knit stitch on that second purl stitch. When knitting the second row, I find it easier to think “knit two, purl two” as I work across, rather than trying to read my knitting as I would with a normal ribbing.

Knitting Row 2 of mistake rib stitch

Keep up the K2, P2 all the way across that second row until you reach the last 3 stitches. Just as you did in Row 1, knit two stitches and purl the last stitch. Take a look at your row and you’ll see that it’s not like any of the usual ribbing!

A completed Row 2 of the mistake rib

Keep repeating Row 1 until you’ve reached the length you like.

Check out the swatch and you’ll see how this rib is unlike any other. It doesn’t line up quite as neatly as traditional ribbing, but that gives it a unique texture.

Mistake rib stitch swatch
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