May 15, 2016

Right Side? Wrong Side? You Decide

Among my many knitting obsessions is an unwavering fascination with reversible stitches. I love them in all their forms, from solid textures to the interesting effects achieved by working slip stitch patterns in different colors.

Twegen Afghan swatch (L: front, R: back)

Many years and miles of yarn have passed through my fingers since I first consciously wrestled with the issue of reversability. My sister had made a simple striped garter scarf, so one side featured the smooth, invisible color joins, while the other displayed the characteristic broken stripes. Unconstrained by convention, she wore the wrong side facing outward because it was the look she preferred, which for me was eye-opening.

Flashpoint Afghan 
(L: back, R: front)

My sister was clearly ahead of the curve, but over time the distinctions between right and wrong sides have evolved in the knitting community at large. These distinctions tend to blur even more when we as makers develop a richer appreciation for the varied patterns and textures different techniques create. 

This swatch is a good example. Some people prefer the front, some prefer the back, but the majority find both sides attractive. What do you think?

Test swatch (L: front, R: back)

There are, of course, plenty of knitters who gravitate toward a narrow definition of reversibility. The only stitches that meet their criteria are exactly the same on both sides, an outlook some of you may share as well.

Dojeling Shawl (same on both sides)

Drumlin Afghan (same on both sides)

Through the years, a range of experiences have helped expand my personal definition of reversability. 

When I swatch to test a new stitch, for instance, I'm surprised how often I find the backside as or more appealing than the front. The swatch below is a good illustration: Which side do you prefer?

Test swatch (L: front, R: back)

Making items for non-knitters is also revealing. They admire, stroke and happily wear, use or display their handmade treasures ... with the wrong side facing out. 

This annoys some knitters, but I've learned to embrace it. Our non-knitting friends see the fabric with fresh eyes, discovering possibilities we may not perceive. They're unconcerned with technicalities, so they simply pick the side that appeals to them most. 

And when all is said and done, that's just how it should be. Right?

Connecting with the linkups in the sidebar.


  1. Owning my agree: Like you, I often find the wrong side as attractive (or more so) than the right side.

  2. What's wrong, what's right. We should ask this question all the time and not only considering knitting. I love both sides of your projects. Regula

  3. Very philosophical, but I agree with you broadly. I do have certain things that I prefer to only have one particular side showing but I think that's more about me than the actual knitting. I like the back of the red and white swatch best :)

  4. Interesting! I find both sides of certain projects to be beautiful, especially with a lot of texture. I love your Flashpoint project. Both sides are gorgeous.

  5. I like the front on the black and white swatch and the back on the red and white swatch. I so have to try a reversible knit sometime soon. Your projects are all so beautiful.

  6. As a crocheter it's not often I create something where the two sides are noticeably different, but the few times I have I have loved both sides. And when it happens in a blanket, a cowl, or a hat, for examples, I consider them reversible.

    As long as a side is finished nicely (e.g. no loose or loopy threads that will snag) it's fair game for being a right side for a seamed object. I would chose as the outside the side I prefer rather than worry about which are the front and back sides. Re: your swatches... The black swatch: I like both the front and the back equally well - just differently. The red swatch: I very much prefer the back side. Interesting post!

  7. Another interesting, informative blog. Lots to think about. For gifts and charity, I really like two sided items because you don't have to make sure one side or the other is placed on the "right" way.


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