Right and Wrong Side–Determining the Front Side of Crochet Fabric
Experts don’t always agree when it comes to the front side of crochet fabric (the right side). And by “experts,” I mean Susanna Tobias, Project Editor for crochet, and me, Associate Editor of Love of Crochet. We debate right sides and wrong sides quite frequently. (This may seem odd to some folks, but Susanna and I love to debate, especially over the finer points of crochet.) Right side/wrong side cases come up primarily in projects that have turned rows, such as shawls. Many shawls are reversible, so it doesn’t necessarily matter which side is the front, yet we argue nonetheless.
We debate the question when projects arrive for publication. Then we discuss it again—and quite passionately—when our non-crocheting coworkers ask us to identify the right side of a project for a photo shoot. We’ve even involved crochet designer Shannon Mullett-Bowlsby, one half of the brilliant Shibaguyz, in our debate (more about that later).
So what exactly is the debate and why do we argue so passionately? Join me as I discuss the finer points of identifying the front of a crochet fabric. Perhaps you’d like to weigh in as well!
The First Row Is the Right Side
Many projects that are worked in turned rows begin with a string of chains, with the first row worked into those stitches. Susanna believes this first row determines the fabric’s right side, since designers set the stage here. They need to know where to start and stop the main design of their fabric. If they use the first row to determine the front side, they can plan their repeats and create a uniform-looking project.
The Last Row Is the Right Side
I, on the other hand, believe that the last row of the project or edging determines the right side of a fabric. Many projects have an edging. They range from simple to fancy and are generally added to provide a nice clean finish to the projects. Since this edging, worked at the end, often becomes the focal point of a project, I believe it’s the last row that determines which side of the fabric is the front.
The Best-Looking Side Is the Right Side
When Shannon Mullett-Bowlsby was in town recording videos a few months ago, Susanna and I decided to put the debate to him to see what he thought. In essence, we were asking Shannon to pick sides. Would he choose Susanna’s because they’ve been friends for years, or would he choose mine because I’m right and Susanna is wrong (in my humble opinion, that is)?
Turns out, neither! Shannon said that the right side of the fabric is determined by which side looks best for the project. Okay, dramatic pause here. When Shannon said that, I really felt like responding, “Well, when you put it that way, it’s a no-brainer!” For any crochet fabric with texture, one side is likely to look better than the other, and we should call that the right side, no matter which way the first and last row face. Of course.
Upon reflection, I could think of several stitches where the wrong side looks better than the right, such as the puff stitch and some cluster stitches. The puff stitch tends to stand out more on the back of the fabric. Therefore, many designers will make that side the front of their fabric. Let’s take a look at some examples where stitch texture makes Shannon’s answer the best one.
Water Lily Shawl
The Water Lily Shawl by Lisa Naskrent features elongated stitches and solid clusters. Row 1 of the pattern is labeled the right side, which coincides with the first cluster stitch which appears on Row 8. The right side shows off the back of the cluster stitch beautifully.
Textured Tweed Clutch
Mari Lynn Patrick’s richly textured clutch will lose much of its charm unless you switch sides. Its dramatic puff stitches on flap and strap look better from the wrong side. Again, Row 1 of the pattern is labeled the right side, so that the back of the puff stitch worked in Row 2 will be most prominent.
Sara Dudek worked this hat from the top down starting in double crochet and chain stitches. As with the previous two patterns, the first round is labeled the right side. Therefore, when you reach the first puff stitches in Round 8, the wrong side becomes the right side.
Work in turned rounds to make Jill Hanratty’s textured pillow with puff, post, and cluster stitches. The first round includes puff stitches, so you’ll want to reverse the fabric to show the “wrong” side.
If you’re not familiar with the stitches mentioned above, join Mary Beth Temple in a 53-minute video. After she walks you through the basics of bobbles, clusters, puffs, and popcorns, you can practice your skills with the included four patterns. Try these different textures and see for yourself which is the right and wrong side of the fabric.
The Debate Continues
Though Susanna and I agree with Shannon about the best-looking side being the right side, we just can’t let our friendly disagreement drop. Some projects don’t have textured sides, so we’ll argue anew based on the first or last row of a project. No doubt our coworkers are tired of hearing our rants.
This is not the only issue on which Susanna and I disagree. I once hated Tunisian crochet and wrote a blog post entitled “10 Things I Hate About Tunisian Crochet“. Susanna loves the technique and offered quippy replies to my complaints.
Yet we both agree on one crucial point—crochet rocks! Grab your hook and some yarn to stitch up something beautiful. When it’s done, take a look at both sides of your fabric and decide which one is the right side. Then, show it off with pride.
Purchase these products in our shop!