image of up close knitted wool shawl texture

In the video above, Cully discusses his new design from Wool Gathering issue #110, the Fluted Shawl (Note: Cully is wearing the Saddle-Shoulder Aran Cardigan.) Below, Meg discusses choosing motifs and reversible patterns for lace knitting, as she did for the blue version of the Fluted Shawl.

Dear Knitter,

When choosing a lace motif for a flat-knitted shawl, I like it to be reversible so I can just throw it on without having to determine a “right” side.

   However, many flat lace patterns are stocking-stitch based, in order to make the design more visible. When you alter a “purl-back” row to a reversible “knit-back” row, the thicker garter stitch texture may obliterate the motif. This is an occasion when I first knit a swatch. 

   While cruising through Barbara Walker’s Treasury of Knitting Patterns the other day (searching for a suitable lace to employ for Cully’s newest half-circle Fluted Shawl design in Wool Gathering #110), I found a list I had tucked into the book decades ago: Reversible Pattern Stitches in Barbara G. Walker’s Treasuries, compiled by Mary Lee Herrick. Mary writes, "The list is based on Barbara’s comments in her 1st and 2nd Treasuries only, so I imagine there are plenty more in the 3rd and 4th books. 47 of them are the same on both sides; 50 of them are different on each side - but, in Barbara’s words 'the reverse side is also interesting.'"  An image of the list of reversible pattern stitches is at the bottom of the blog below Meg's signature.

image of all 4 of Barbara Walker's treasuries

Above: Barbara Walker's Treasury Set

   I was looking for a relatively simple design; possibly even a ‘background lace’ like those used by Maryanne Kinzel and Herbert Niebling behind their splendid flowers and leaves. The one I ended up with may be one of the simplest lace patterns in existence: it is a repeat of one row with a total of four stitches! and it is the same on both sides: Feather Faggot (page 85 in the 1st Treasury).

   For wraps, half-shawls, and Möbius scarves I have turned many different lace designs into reversible ones by dint of knitting back on every-other-row. For example, I used BGW’s Little Leaf Stripe (page 196 of 1st Treasury) for a Möbius Scarf, and altered rows 1 and 3 by knitting back instead of purling. I used Walker’s Little Parachute (page 157 of the Third Treasury: Charted Knitting Designs) in Elizabeth Zimmermann’s Pie Are Square Shawl, and knitted back on rows 2, 4, and 6.  

image showing both sides of stitch pattern for mobius scarf      close up of knitted wool shawl fabric in brown lace

   When knitting circular shawls like EZ’s Pi Shawl; lace ponchos (the Mañanita), or a lace tunic (my Roseleaves Tunic from A Gathering of Lace) you are knitting in the round, so may insert a stunning Kinzel or Niebling design on a stocking stitch background, without a thought of purling. In these instances, the wearer will pay attention to wearing the garment "right side" out.


pi shawl circular lace cream  meg swansen in mananita poncho shawl

blue lace tunic on model      Red lace tunic on model

Roseleaves Tunics from the book A Gathering of Lace, out of print, but check online for used copies. The lace tunic design will be available again in Meg's new book, upcoming in late Fall 2024.

Good Knitting,



Reversible Stitch Patterns from First Treasury and Second Treasury of Knitting Patterns books:


list of reversible stitch patterns