What is Stocking Stitch and How Do You Do Reverse Shaping?

January 15, 2008 at 11:39 am 3 comments

Here are two recent questions emailed to me.  The second one on “reverse shaping” applies to knitting as well as crochet. . .

Dear SweaterBabe,

I recently bought a booklet with patterns. Currently I am knitting mittens and they say to knit 4 inches of stocking stitches. What is a stocking stitch?

— Francois C.

Dear Francois,

I believe Stocking Stitch is the same as Stockinette Stitch.  So, it is just alternating knitting a row (on the Right side of your work) and purling a row (on the Wrong side of your work).

If you are working in the round, and the Right Side is ALWAYS facing you, then just knit every stitch on every row to get Stockinette Stitch.

— SweaterBabe

Dear SweaterBabe,

Hello! Please explain reverse shaping! Thanks!

— JoAnn S

Dear JoAnn,

Yes, the dreaded “reverse shaping!”  When I see this in a pattern, I often cringe, even if just a little (because it means a little extra work for me!).

For example, if you just completed the LEFT FRONT of a cardigan, the instructions for the RIGHT FRONT may just simply say “Work as for LEFT FRONT, reversing all shaping.”

Yup, so now what??  Hopefully the shaping is not too complex. . .

First, I would hope (and strongly suggest!) that you keep good notes as you do the LEFT FRONT.  Jot down EXACTLY which row you did the first bind off or decrease for the armhole (for example).  Then, also jot down every row that you do any further decreasing or shaping for the armhole… Do this for any waist, neckline, shoulder, and any other shaping that is done in the pattern.

Then, when you do the RIGHT FRONT, you can easily refer to your notes and see that on Row X, you began shaping the armhole, then on Row Y you decreased some number of stitches at the armhole edge, etc.

To “Reverse Shaping”, you just do the same bind offs and decreases (or increases) at the same times, but on the other edge.  For example, the “armhole edge” on the LEFT FRONT is the beginning of the row when you are on the Right Side of your work.  The “armhole edge” on the RIGHT FRONT is at the END of the row when you are on the Right Side of your work. 

So, if the armhole shaping starts with some initial bind off (like bind off 3 sts)… and you did this on Row 50 (a Right Side Row) of your LEFT FRONT… then you would be doing this on Row 51 (A Wrong Side Row) of your RIGHT FRONT. 

Why?  Because this initial bind off is only done at the beginning of a row.  Staggering it by 1 row will not be noticable and this will mimic the “bind off 3 sts at the beg of the next 2 rows” that most likely started the armhole shaping of your BACK piece.

Then, if you did a decrease on every row 3 times, then every other row 3 times to complete the armhole shaping, you can go ahead and do the same now for the RIGHT FRONT, but be sure to do these decreases at the armhole edge, which is now on the opposite edge (of what it was for the LEFT FRONT).

This “reverse shaping” instruction can also appear for shoulder shaping.  Same idea.  Just do the same shaping steps, but do it at the other edge of your work.

Hope that explains it well enough!  The key is really to keep good notes on the shaping as you go.

— SweaterBabe

Got a knitting or crochet question for SweaterBabe?  Please email it to advice@sweaterbabe.com.  Please do NOT post it here, as I can only answer those emailed to the address above.


Entry filed under: Ask SweaterBabe, Crochet Questions and How to, Knitting Questions and How to.

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3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Norma  |  January 17, 2008 at 9:03 pm

    Excellent blog and you are a very good teacher. Fortunately, I have never had to deal with ‘reverse shaping’. I will know what to do if I ever need it. Thank you!

    Norma Marshall

  • 2. Isella  |  January 24, 2008 at 12:20 pm

    I learned to do reverse shaping the hard way. I thing I would suggest is to do both sides at the same time, if possible. I had two sets of the same size needles, so I did them both at the same time, so I can compare what I was doing. I don’t know if this will help anyone.

  • 3. Yvonne  |  August 29, 2008 at 5:11 am

    thankyou for the excellent instructions on reverse shaping.

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