A basic stitch used in weft knitting in which the knitting machines require two sets of needles operating at right angles to each other. Rib knits have a very high degree of elasticity in the crosswise direction. This knitted fabric is used for complete garments and for such specialized uses as sleeve bands, neck bands, sweater waistbands, and special types of trims for use with other knit or woven fabrics. Lightweight sweaters in rib knits provide a close, body-hugging fit. Rib knits tend to be more durable and provide more stretch than jersey knitted fabrics.
In the knitting process, when every other wale alternates between plain and purl stitches on the right and back sides, it is called a 1 X 1 rib, or a plain rib. By alternating every two wales of plain stitches to the front side with every two wales of purl stitches to the back side, a 2 X 2, or Swiss rib, is created. When 6 wales of plain stitches to the right side alternates with 2 wales of purl stitches to the back side, a 6 X 2 rib is created.
To identify rib knit fabrics, especially when they are tightly knit, using fine yarns, it may be necessary to stretch the fabric widthwise to see the appearance of alternating columns of plain and purl stitches in the lengthwise, or wale direction of the rib knit fabric. The raised ridges are wales of plain stitches, and the recessed columns are the wales of purl stitches.