Bobble stitch is a great way to add some fun three-dimensional texture to your knitting. There are lots of ways to knit a bobble, but each version essentially increases stitches, works those stitches, then decreases the stitches back to one. The result is a little ball on the front of your work.
You might find bobble stitches on sweaters or around the edges of blankets. It's often worked in staggered groups to make designs like little trees or even to spell out words on the front of a pillow, with the bobbles set on a background of stockinette stitch. The texture of the bobbles looks playful on hats and mittens for kids and adults alike, and if you really want to go all-out, try knitting an entire sheep with this fun stitch!
Knitting patterns that use bobble stitch typically abbreviate the stitch as (mb) which stands for make bobble. Because there are so many variations of this stitch, be sure to read through your pattern to see if they specify the method you should use. Most patterns include all the information you need. If you don't know what kind of bobble to use or if you're designing your own pattern, choose a version you like and use the same method throughout your project.
You'll find that you can make different sized bobbles by altering not only the yarn and needles in your entire project but also by increasing anywhere from three to nine stitches, as well as how many times you work those stitches. Smaller bobbles are more common, so this simple overview of how to make bobble stitch increases to five stitches.
There's a lot of turning your work back and forth for bobble stitches, and it may feel intimidating at first, but once you get the hang of it, it's really easy!
How to Knit Bobble Stitch
To knit a bobble stitch, it's a bit like knitting in the front and back of a stitch to increase, but you'll do it more to add more stitches.
Knit in the front, back, front, back, front of the same stitch. Do not slip the stitch off your needle until the last time you knit in the front of the stitch. You should now have a group of five stitches.
You can increase using these other methods too!
- Knit 1, yarn over, knit 1, yarn over, knit 1 in the same stitch.
- Knit, purl, knit, purl, knit in the same stitch.
Turn your work and purl the group of five stitches.
Turn and knit the group of five stitches.
Turn and purl the group of five stitches.
Turn your work one last time and knit the five stitches together. You should now have one stitch on your needle that is actually the completed bobble.
Bobbles in Stitch Patterns
If you're working in stockinette stitch as you add the bobbles, you'll purl the next row. To help avoid holes around the bobbles, work the purl stitches on either side of the bobbles a little tighter. This holds everything together nicely. You can also try twisting the bobble stitch or purling through the back loop, on the next row to close the holes.
On the back of your work, you'll see a little indent where each bobble is, but generally, it makes a smooth back.
Stockinette is the most common stitch pattern to add bobbles to, and that means working the bobbles in stockinette (hence alternating between knit and purl as you turn them). You can also work them in garter stitch by simply following the same process but knitting every stitch. You'll end up with even more texture!
Ideas for Bobble Stitch
Because bobble stitch starts and ends as just one stitch, you can add this stitch into projects easily. For example, if you're making a simple stockinette pullover, you can work them into the yoke of the sweater. When making a chunky garter stitch blanket, you could swap out the fringed ends for rows of giant garter stitch bobbles!
Add extra color to your work by changing colors for the bobbles. The colorful puffs transform something as basic as a beanie into a truly playful project!
Updated by Mollie Johanson