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Getting on the right side of your knitting

In the various online knitting spaces I frequent I’ve come across a couple of interesting discussions on what “right side” means in a knitting pattern.

It’s a tricky one because the phrase can be used in two separate ways – in terms of the outward facing part of your finished item or it could refer to the right hand side of a garment (which can be tricky in itself -see below).

Right and wrong sides, and front and back

In knitting patterns you will often see rows referred to as “right side” and “wrong side” rows. Usually this means the side the pattern is intended to show on and the side that would be on the inside of a garment or reverse of a scarf.

This is easy to understand if you are doing stocking stitch (the smooth side is the right side) or Fair Isle (the strands or floats are on the wrong side) but can be harder to see in other stitch patterns. And if you are doing a stitch pattern that is effectively double-sided, you may need to decide that the right side is facing you either when working the odd or the even numbered rows and put a marker in place to remind you.

Right and wrong

The right side of your knitting in not the same as the front in most patterns. Front usually refers to the side of your knitting facing you on that particular row. In other words if you are told to bring the yarn to the front, you want it to be between you and your knitting. If it should be at the back, the yarn should be behind your knitting as you hold it at that moment.

Right-hand side

Then there are the times when right side means the right hand side of the finished item. Sounds simple but it can be confusing. If you are knitting the front of a garment is stocking stitch, when you are on the knit row (ie with the smooth/right side facing), the stitches to the left of your work will be the ones forming the right hand seams of your finished piece.

Yep, now your brain is feeling the strain.

My approach to working out what the right hand and left hand parts of your piece are is to think about where sleeves will attach. Your right arm will go the right sleeve so the side where the right sleeve will attach will be the right-hand side of the body. So if you are ever feeling confused, spread your work out so you can see the shape and think about where your sleeves would go.

Right sides

These discussions have really made me think about how much I use these terms in patterns and how to make what I mean as clear as possible.