How to Knit Reverse Stockinette Stitch

Reverse Stockinette Stitch is just like regular Stockinette except what is usually thought of as the back is the front.
Reverse Stockinette stripes, with a little rowing out. © Sarah E. White, licensed to About.com, Inc.

In knitting, the reverse stockinette stitch, as you might imagine, is the same as stockinette stitch, but in reverse. In this case, reverse does not mean you're knitting backward, though. Instead, you're actually looking backward because what is considered the back of normal stockinette is actually the front of reverse stockinette.

It's a simple stitch pattern with a lot of texture, which some knitters like and others don't. No matter which way you lean, it's good to know what it is and how to work it should in case you ever need to use it in a project.

Knitting Reverse Stockinette

Just like regular stockinette, reverse stockinette works on any number of stitches and is made by knitting one row and purling the next row. But there is a little difference, spelled out this way:

  • Row 1: Purl across.
  • Row 2: Knit across.
  • Repeat these two rows for the pattern.

While stockinette stitch produces smooth V's across the fabric, reverse stockinette is all bumps on the right side.

Pros and Cons

Some people don't like reverse stockinette because they prefer the look of "regular" stockinette.

Reverse stockinette also holds the potential problem of rowing out, which is when the uneven tension between your knit and purl rows shows. It's a lot easier to see in reverse stockinette, and it can be difficult to fix, so this is a big potential problem when working reverse.

Working in the round helps with rowing out, but that requires purling every stitch. Unless you really enjoy purling, you may want to consider treating your project as if it were stockinette. With this approach, you'll knit every stitch—which is more natural for many knitters—then turn it right side out after the knitting is done.

If you knit a project flat that needs to be seamed, you'll want to get a few essential tips for seaming reverse stockinette.

It can be a little more difficult to figure out your knitting gauge or to count rows when all you're looking at is purl bumps. In both of these situations, try taking measurements and counting from the knit side (here the "wrong" side) because the V's are easier to count and the measurement is, of course, the same. It's simply easier to see from the other side if you're having trouble.

Reverse Stockinette Patterns

There are not as many patterns that call for reverse stockinette. Yet, a lot of things that are worked in stockinette could be used with the "wrong" side out to make them reverse stockinette if you'd like to show off the extra texture.

The texture of reverse stockinette is a nice touch for certain projects, particularly when combined with stockinette stitch. For instance, you can knit a striped pillow with one color of stripes in stockinette and the next stripe in reverse stockinette. There's an extra appeal that comes from changing color and texture at the same time. The same approach can be used for a simple but very interesting reversible scarf.

You can also transform a basic stockinette hat into a comfy, super-textured project that's fabulous with bulky yarn.

The Wurm hat pattern from Katharina Nopp uses bands of stockinette and reverse stockinette to add a bit of texture and interest. It almost looks pleated and is particularly fascinating when the stripes are worked in different colors.

Cam Banks has a fun reverse stockinette ruffle bag you might want to try. It's a great way to show off the texture of this stitch.

You can also find the contrast of reverse stockinette and stockinette in the bulky beauty Aujourd'hui cowl by tante ehm, which is worked in gorgeous Malabrigo Rasta. Ezra's buttery soft blanket by Laurie Kimmelstiel is another great project that has alternating blocks of both stitches.