What methods do YOU use to keep your wool ribbing tight?

This is a general poll of everyone to how they keep their wool ribbing tight after wearing the item. Specifically hats but not limited to. There is no ‘right way’ or ‘wrong way’, and for many of us even the exact yarn used for each project can affect how stretched out the ribbing ends up. So, going into winter now in the US, how do YOU work your ribbing on your hats to keep them snug through the winter? Maybe your way will inspire someone to try something new!

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Wool usually has enough spring to it that the ribbing stays snug. If I’m concerned about the fit or I’m using acrylic or cotton yarn, then I might twist the knit sts on the rib or go down a needle size.

Honestly, most of the time I do not care, but those times I want to do something, I have found that wetting the ribbing and then push together the ribbing and letting it dry in a such position helps, so basically blocking it in a tight position.


Thanks for responding! I have seen a few threads necro’d lately as a result of google searches leading folks here for specific things, and it made me think of when I first started knitting with wool a couple years ago and all the problems I had that were not easy to find help with. This was one of those issues and finding solutions was a bear! My only offline resource looked at me scandalized when I asked,and simply said “wool doesn’t do that, maybe you have acrylic.” (For the record, the first hats I ever made were with acrylic and the ribbing is still tight on them almost five years later.) I found a few people in forums at the time asking for help and they were every one of them shot down with remarks that wool doesn’t stretch out. Even if someone who ends up here because of this issue doesn’t respond I wanted them to know they are not alone with the problem, yes it does happen, and here are some ideas :slight_smile:
Here are some of the things I do, they don’t always work but they prolong the necessity of adding elastic bands!
1-If hat is knit on 6mm, knit brim on 4mm.
2-Knit brim so tightly your hands look like claws afterwards and you have to take a day of rest.
3 - Like Engblom said, scrunch that ribbing up when letting it air dry. (If you are pinning the rest, intentionaly pin the area above the ribbing extra small so it doesn’t yank the ribbing open.)
4 - Double layered brims stretch slower than single layer.
5 - You can chain crochet a single line of colored elastic loosely just above the ribbing to keep it in check a bit. For someone who is often bald due to health stuffs this can be uncomfortable, feeling the elastic on your scalp is not the same as soft wool.
6-Thinner wool seems to stretch easier than thicker.

Woo! My lovely purple cable hat I finished last month has already settled out three inches from where it started, and blows off my head in a good breeze. It was made too small and ribbed with needles 2mm smaller than the rest, agitated just at the ribbing when hand washed the first time to intentionally start some felting just on the ribbing to lock it in. When I get these commissions done I’m going to add a double brim to it :slightly_smiling_face:
If anyone has any others speak up and be not afraid of being unconventional! New techniques may seem weird at first but that’s how we learn new ways of doing things!

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Twisting stitches! What a great idea! I had honestly never considered that one and on my next hat I will be playing with it :slight_smile:

I’ve heard that some people like to knit ribbing using combination knitting (working the purls with an “eastern” direction wrap, the opposite of the knits). Since I have been knitting combination style for a while now I can’t really say from experience whether for me it really makes a difference or how much. But The idea is that this theoretically causes the sts to sit tighter to each other because it reduces the length of the running strand between any knit/purl pair of stitches. In the real world it isn’t always so simple, but all other things being equal it could be worth trying if you struggle with loose ribbing.

I work a lot with cotton and so I don’t usually like using ribbing for things like that. But I think the idea of twisted ribbing sounds interesting and I’d like to experiment with that more. I’d also like to try playing with corrugated ribbing with two yarns, and see how that works…


Twisting the stitches sounds like a good idea… can you explain how it’s done please?

I think I would try adding a strand of sock yarn (thinner and with nylon stretch) with the worsted wool for the hat brim.

I also have a crochet method that gives a very tightly stretchy rib that is also very thick.
I use acrylic yarn most of the time for these hats and they they are still much too warm for even the coldest winter day in North Carolina.

I have not yet written up my pattern but have listed them in threads on this forum.


You can twist the knit stitches by knitting into the back loop. It’ll tighten them up a bit and it makes an attractive pattern.


I’ve often done my ribbing by knitting and purling into the back loop. I think it gives it a bit more of a decorative look and it does seem to tighten the ribbing up. Give it a try! :slight_smile:

I’m always up for trying something new!

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So many ideas coming in, I love it! Thank you so much for contributing everyone!

Oh gosh that’s what it’s called? I was making it way too difficult! Will try that this afternoon, as seems a good idea to me! Thanks for taking time to answer!

~ Mj :palm_tree:

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One of my secrets is using a German Twisted cast on. I believe they have a tutorial on it for this site. It makes a huge difference. The cuff is stretchy enough to fit over the head but snaps back into shape easily. I also ran into the problem where my ribbing looked wonky. In a 2 by 2 rib, one vertical rib would be perfect and the one next to it loose. I finally solved the problem. My knitting in general was so uneven. I started to wrap the yarn around my little finger before putting it around the index finger and my problem is solved. Beautiful even tension now. I am a Continental knitter. This is what is on my needle currently. Mitten on straight needles with a peasant thumb.

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An iCord bind off with elastic knit into the center or threaded through at the end works great. Or a hollow band between the body of the hat and the brim again with elastic threaded through. Or sew elastic into the rib as shown in these articles https://blog.weareknitters.com/knitting-tips/put-elastic-thread-garments/

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Here is the German Twisted cast on from the side. Beautiful fluted edges. Stretchy but bounces back to shape. I use this for hats and mittens.


Ah, twist the stitches…CCW or CW? If right handed…? Knit or purl through the back…? TY!


I usually put the ribbing on with a size smaller needle/hook than the pattern calls for. If the ribbing gets floppy on me, I’ll use some reserved yarn and pop a reverse single crochet all around and decrease every tenth stitch or so, pop it onto my head for sizing…


I’m a newbie and I watched a video telling to tug the yarn. It helped, but my hands were tense all the time. Another one to twist the first pull stitch after a knit one. I could understand it, but when she began the wrong size, there were so many stitches to untwist that I don’t know where they came from.

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I thought my tension improved overall when I got the ‘hang’ of continental knitting. I still use English throwing and/or flicking at times…finding I just can’t purl 4 together continental.method…or combined continental.

About twisted stitches, knitting through the back will untwist them…I even purl through the back at times…but, if I’m doing a complicated lace-like pattern, I make sure I don’t twist the stitches by working through the back…

If you’re getting a lot of twisted stitches, remember the yarn can only go on the needle clockwise or counter clockwise…My knitting = counter clockwise usually unless the pattern says otherwise…twisted stitches have gone on the opposite way…or clockwise…(western orientation)…so, if you orient a stitch clockwise in the beginning, it is twisted.

Combined continental style of knitting orients the purl stitches clockwise…or twisted on the needles…play with this concept, eh? Again, a twisted stitch can be worked through the back to untwist it…or, you can just take it off the needle and turn it as you put it back on the needle.