Reversible Two-Color Knitting, aka Making Your Knitting Look Cool on Both Sides

I am fascinated by reversible two-color knitting. There’s reversible knitting. There’s color work. Put them together, and you can make some pretty awesome creations.

Reversible Two-Color Knitting

I’m not talking about double knitting (which is pretty cool too). Double knitting produces a double-thick layer of fabric that creates “negative” images on opposite sides. I’m talking about stitch patterns that may or may not look similar on both sides. But both sides look great and either can be used as the “right” or outside.

Reversible Two-Color Knitting

If you want to try out two-color reversible knitting, I have to highly recommend this book: Reversible Two-Color Knitting  by Jane Neighbors. Originally published in 1974, it’s currently out of print, but can be found second-hand on sites like Amazon or Alibris.com. Jane divides the book into chapters on stitch patterns, items created with these stitch patterns, and ideas on how to use them. The first chapter of stitch patterns is called “Simple Reversibles.” It contains a ton of stitch patterns that use only knit, purl, slipped stitches, and yarn overs. I had no idea there were so many ways to manipulate these 4 stitches.

I’ve used a couple of these in my designs. Where Feet May Fail uses a reversible garter stitch while Joy Comes In the Morning uses one called Shadow Boxing. Shadow Boxing is a lightweight, but warm pattern, perfect for scarves and shawls.

The technique took some getting used to. The reversible garter stitch (like most of the patterns in the book) involves a circular needle, and sliding the work to the other end of the needles at a color change. This is done to keep both edges of the item the same. Color changes occur at both sides, so you don’t have alternating yarns running up only one side of your garment. I needed to watch my tension too. When sliding the work to the opposite end of the needle, the stitches may be tight due to no “give” from the previous color. This can be remedied by adding some well-placed yarn-overs, and dropping them on subsequent rows. Or just consciously keep the edge stitches loose.

Where Feet May Fail Cowl
Reversible Two-color Knitting

I’m currently working on an infinity cowl using the stitch patterns I used in Where Feet May Fail. This pattern uses the reversible two-color garter stich and an open lace pattern. Unlike the original shawl, where the lace is incorporated with short rows, this one will be easily modified. I hope to have the pattern available soon. Just in time for Spring, haha. 🙂

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