Ribs are the result of alternating columns of knit and purl stitches. The knit columns stand out at the front and the purl columns sink to the back. When you lay a piece of ribbing flat, you will only see the knit columns as they pull together and cover the purl columns. This means that ribbing is very elastic; you can pull it out horizontally and it will spring back. When used at the waist, neck and wrists of garments, the ribs will expand when you put it on and then spring back to fit snugly.
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