RS vs WS

When I took a knitting class, my instructor told me how to tell the RS vs WS of the work based on where the cast on tail was.
I can’t remember…If it’s I’m looking at the RS, is the CO Tail on the right or the left of the needles?

Depends on the CO and whether or not you count your CO as a knit row. The better way to tell is by identifying the knit and purl stitches. In stockinette, the knit side is the RS. It will look like:


The purl side is the WS in stockinette, and it looks like interlocking smiles and frowns.

A long tail CO puts the tail on a different side of the work than the other castons, so you can’t use tail on right/left side to determine which is RS/WS.


Assuming this particular simple case:

  1. Cast on using the knitting-on (or similar) cast on method
  2. Begin first row of pattern after casting on (so that the cast on does not count as row 1).
    Each odd-numbered row would be a RS row and would have the yarn tail hanging at the base (or left side) of the left needle.
    Each even-numbered row would be the WS rows and would have the yarn tail dangling from the tip (or right side) of the left needle.

As others noted in previous replies, some cast-on methods carry the tail of the yarn along to the tip of the needle, like cable cast-on. And, some patterns consider the cast on row as row #1. In these cases, what I discribed above would not apply, but if you understand the idea you can figure out for any project where the tail is during RS and WS rows.

I hope this helps you some. Be sure to refer to Amy’s videos if your not sure what cast-on method you used.

Good luck!