It is great when our lace scarves, wraps and shawls look the same on both sides. But, unfortunately, most lace stitch patterns are not reversible. They look beautiful on the right side of the work and not so good on the wrong side.
It happens because those stitch patterns are based on stockinette stitch. There is a good reason why stockinette stitch is used as a background for lace designs – it creates a smooth even surface that makes a perfect canvas for lace elements.
The downside is – the resulting lace pattern is not reversible. But we can easily change that if we change the background and place the same lace elements on a fully reversible stitch pattern like garter stitch.
It may seem like a complicated task, but, in reality, it is very easy. All we have to do is knit all stitches in every wrong side row instead of purling them. When we work in the round, we should purl stitches in every even-numbered round instead of knitting them. In other words, we do the same thing as we do when we work in a garter stitch pattern.
Let’s take a simple lace pattern as an example. It is a stitch pattern #2 from the free e-book “12 Lace Stitches – From the Easiest to More Challenging” (you are very welcome to download this e-book from the Library of Free Knitting Resources.
Because we purl all stitches in every wrong side row, the pattern has distinct right and wrong sides.
But if we knit all stitches in every wrong side row instead of purling them, the pattern becomes reversible. As a bonus, this small change stops the fabric from curling and the swatch stays flat even without blocking.
This concept is also explained in a video tutorial. Click here to watch it, or scroll down to the bottom of this page.
Of course, this adjustment changes the overall look of the pattern. The fabric is not as smooth any more. It becomes more textured. It could be an issue when we work with bulky yarn, but most lace patterns are used in light projects knitted with fine yarns. Plus, we usually block our lace projects, stretching and evening out the fabric.
All of that minimizes the added texture in our projects, and we can enjoy our lacy scarves, shawls and wraps without even thinking about the right and wrong sides of the fabric.
That’s what they do when they wear gorgeous Orenburg shawls – traditional Russian shawls that are fully reversible because they are based on garter stitch instead of the usual stockinette stitch.
In fact, the reversible version of the stitch pattern in our example is a stitch that is widely used in the Orenburg shawls designs.
If you want to experiment with this stitch pattern, here are the detailed pattern instructions:
Cast on an even number of stitches.
For working back and forth:
Row 1: knit 1, [yarn over, knit 2 stitches together], repeat brackets to the last stitch, knit 1.
Row 2: knit all stitches.
Row 3: knit 1, [knit 2 stitches together, yarn over], repeat brackets to the last stitch, knit 1.
Row 4: knit all stitches.
Repeat rows 1 to 4 as necessary for completing your project.
For working in the round:
Round 1: [yarn over, knit 2 stitches together], repeat brackets to the end of the round.
Round 2: purl all stitches.
Round 3: [knit 2 stitches together, yarn over], repeat brackets to the end of the round.
Round 4: purl all stitches
Repeat rounds 1 to 4 as necessary for completing your project.
Use this stitch pattern as an all-over stitch for a lace scarf or a wrap, and your project will look the same on both sides of the work. Remember to add selvedge stitches to make the edges of your scarf neat and clean (here’s a tutorial that describes a few options for creating neat side edges).
If you enjoyed this tutorial,
here’s something else you might find helpful:
“Neat Side Edges” Book
Learn twelve ways to make side edges of a knitted project nice and tidy. Plus, ways to fix side edges, and a way to improve edges of finished projects.