In working on the knitted prayer shawl I mentioned in a previous post, I have learned that knitting ribbing is really easy (which is kind of what I'd thought) and that it's also really hard (if you don't understand the directions or pay attention to what you're doing.)
Directions: Cast on 80 sts. Sl. 1st st., k1p1 to end.
How difficult is that? Assuming you've really cast on 80 stitches (which you'll need for the cables later, and which I never even got to), you then need to know which way to slip the first stitch, knitwise or purlwise, and what those things mean anyway. (I sort of understand what they mean, so I slipped what I'm pretty sure was knitwise.) Then you need to know that you skip the first knit stitch and go right to the purl. I had to read on in the directions to work this out. It took me about ten tries. Finally, you need to remember to keep alternating between knit and purl stitches, which in theory is easy but is hard when you're just learning. Don't try to do it and chew gum at the same time.
Now, in Stitch and Bitch they basically say that to do ribbing, you knit the knits and purl the purls. When I tried approaching it this way (in a k2p2 pattern) I had no trouble at all getting it right. Looks like I've been knitting ribbing all my life. Huh.
I only cast on 32 stitches this time so we're looking at more of a scarf than a shawl, but I think I'm ready to move on to cables. Watch this space.