Confused about RS vs WS

I have totally overthought this and now I’m totally confused. OK, so my pattern says to cast on 50 stitches. Mark 1st row as RS. Work to a certain length in garter stitch, ending with a WS row. Then work in stockinette stitch to a certain length, ending with a WS row. Then bind off. I know how to tell which side is RS in stockinette. But I’m confused. Supposedly when you do the long-tail cast-on that’s your first row. So is that RS in garter? And if the pattern says “end with a WS row” what does that mean? As I’m knitting that last row that’s supposed to be a WS row, is the RS or WS facing me? I’m so totally confused. Does this make any sense? Can you help this newbie? Please!!!

Don’t worry about the cast on being a row or not. Some people count it as one, some people don’t. If it’s confusing you more I’d suggest just counting it as a cast on and no more. So the first row you actually knit will be your row 1. Knit across the 50 stitches and somehow mark that row so you know that it is your right side. A safety pin works great. Don’t just mark it on the edge though, put the safety pin somewhere in the row so that it actually stays on that side of your work. The only reason that this is necessary is because with garter stitch, both sides look the same and your pattern is having you specify one side as the RS, right from the start.

So now, you will keep doing garter stitch, knitting every stitch of every row, until you reach whatever length specified in your pattern. You will end on a WS row, which means that the last row you knit will be the side that does NOT have the safety pin attached. When you turn your work around following that row, you will have the RS of your work facing you and you’ll be ready to proceed with stockinette stitch. Stockinette stitch is knit the right side rows, and purl the wrong side rows. So since you have the RS of your work facing you, you will begin with a knit row and from there will alternate purl rows and knit rows until you reach the proper length, ending working a WS row which is a purl row.

Thank you so much! That makes total sense. Now, another question. I’m making a sweater and I already finished the back. I was supposed to end on a WS row and then bind off. I think I may have ended on a RS row though. When the RS is facing me, the bind off is rolling towards me. I have to go back and pick those stitches up and add a little collar. It makes more sense to me that the work should be rolling in towards the neck, rather than out. Do you think I did it wrong? Is there a way to fix it?

In stockinette stitch, the knitting will always roll the same way, regardless of which row you ended on or how you bound off. You may have ended on a RS row instead of a WS row, but over the course of a whole sweater, it shouldn’t make much difference at all. Once you pick up stitches to make the collar, it won’t roll anymore.

No, I think that’s right. According to the instructions, you’d be binding off on the knit side/RS row.