There are so many different ways to knit ribbing, from simple 1x1 ribbing (knit 1, purl 1 across each row) to uneven numbers of knits and purls to beaded, twisted and intentionally offset ribs. Likewise there are a lot of knitting patterns out there that use ribbing not just as an edging but as an allover decoration.
There are lots of reasons to love ribbing. It's stretchy and flexible, making it great for things like socks. It doesn't curl, so it's a good choice for scarves and blankets. And it brings a lot of texture to the party, which is fun on everything from hats to sweaters.
Check out some of my favorite free knitting patterns that use ribbing as a major design element.
This voluminous scarf worked in knit 2, purl 2 ribbing may be about as close to instant gratification as you can get in knitting. Worked in a super bulky yarn, it takes no time at all to make a really long scarf, and the fringe at the ends, while compeltely optional, gives the scarf a nice, finished look.
If you're new to knitting and want a lot of practice working on knitting and purling in the same row, by the end of the Ribbed Wrap you'll be an expert. Here again is 2x2 ribbing worked on a long rectangular piece. You might get a little sick of ribbing by the end of this one, but you'll have a great little wrap to show for it in the end.
Here's that 2x2 ribbing again, this time showing up in a large-scale round wrap that can be worn as a giant cowl or scarf, around the shoulders or even looped over the head. The combination of two funky yarns gives this a neat look, but you can combine any two yarns you like or just use a single strand of a bulky yarn to get this one done quick.
If you start a sock with ribbing and don't stop ribbing, what do you get? These super-stretchy, really comfortable Women's Ribbed Socks. These are some of my favorite socks, and they're not any more difficult than knitting a sock all in Stockinette Stitch would be, but they're certainly a bit more entertaining.
Mix up the number of knits and purls in a ribbing pattern for an interesting look that's full of texture. These legwarmers start at the bottom with my favorite 2x2 ribbing, then switch to knit 6, purl 4 ribbing for the rest of the project. The leg is shaped by working with progressively larger needles, so no increasing is necessary! (Some decreasing is actually necessary to get to the right number of stitches for the second rib pattern.)
For an even easier version of a ribbed hat (and this one is sized particularly for women) try the Ribbed Flat Hat. Here 2x2 ribbing and bulky yarn combine with flat knitting for a project that's easy enough for a new knitter (there's just a tiny bit of decreasing, but it's really easy) and knits up really quickly for gift giving or as a quick project to show off your knitting skills.