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Learn Something New: Short-Rows

Jun 11, 2012

One of the easiest but underused knitting techniques is short-rows. They seem so daunting; some of my knitting friends see "Short-rows used for shaping" in the instructions for a knitting pattern and they say "Forget it!"

I use short rows all the time, usually to add rows at the bust so the fronts of my sweaters hang even with the backs. I hate it when the front rides up! Here are the most succinct and useful short-row instructions I've found, from Vicki Square's The Knitters Companion, of course!

HOW TO WORK SHORT-ROWS

Short-rows are used to work partial rows, thereby increasing the number of rows in one area without having to bind off stitches in another; the number of stitches remains constant. This type of shaping eliminates the stair-step edges that occur when a series of stitches are bound off, as is commonly used to shape shoulders and necks. Short-rows are also used to add bust darts or extra length wherever you need it.

When working short-rows, you'll work across part of a row, wrap the yarn around a turning stitch, turn the work, work back across some of the stitches you just worked, turn, etc., until the desired number of extra rows has been worked. To prevent holes at the turning points, the slopped turning stitches are wrapped with the working yarn.

Turning on a Knit Row
1. With the yarn in back, slip the next stitch purlwise.
2. Pass the yarn between the needles to the front of the work.
3. Slip the same stitch back to the left needle and pass the yarn between the needles to the back of the work.
4. Turn the work and continue to work another row on the stitches just worked.

Turning on a Purl Row
1. With the yarn in front, slip the next stitch purlwise.
2. Pass the yarn between needles to the back of the work.
3. Slip the same stitch back to the left needle and pass the yarn back between the needles to the front of the work.
4. Turn the work and continue to work another row on the stitches just worked.
    
Hiding Wraps
On the return rows, hide the wraps by working them together with the stitches that have been wrapped.

Knit Rows: Work to just before the wrapped stitch, insert the right needle under the wrap and knitwise into the wrapped stitch, then knit them together as if they were a single stitch.

Purl Rows:
Work to just before the wrapped stitch, insert the right needle from behind into the back loop of the wrap, place the wrap on the left needle, and purl it together with the wrapped stitch on the left needle

—Vicki Square, The Knitter's Companion

Short-rows demystified! If you haven't tried short-rows, swatch them. Just cast on some stitches, knit a few rows, and insert some short-rows. Here's a little pattern for you:

w&t = Wrap and turn according to the directions given above.

Cast on 40 stitches.
Rows 1-6: Knit 6 rows in stockinette stitch.
Short-row 1: Knit 34 stitches, w&t.
Short-row 2: Purl 28 stitches, w&t.
Short-row 3: Knit 22 stitches, w&t.
Short-row 4: Purl 16 stitches, w&t, purl to end, picking up wraps and purling them together with the wrapped stitches.
Row 11: Knit across all stitches, picking up wraps and knitting them together with the wrapped stitches.
Rows 12: Purl
Rows 13-17:
Work 5 rows in stockinette stitch.
Bind off all stitches.

See how you have a little pooch where you did the short-rows? Pretty neat-o.

I hope you'll incorporate some short-rows into your next sweater knitting pattern. You'll be glad you did when your sweater doesn't ride up. And download a copy of The Knitter's Companion while it's on sale!

Cheers,


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Comments

on Jun 18, 2012 5:28 PM

I thought short rows would be hard, so I kind of ignored them.  Then I was trying to figure out how to increase the area under the arm on a sleeve and I made them up spontaneously.  Now I know that was what I was doing, short rows don't seem so hard!  Thank you so much for the simple expanation.

ZassZ wrote
on Jun 13, 2012 9:44 PM

I love short rows.  It may sound funny, but I look forward to them! ha ha.  

Jan B. wrote
on Jun 12, 2012 6:47 PM

I also avoided short rows until a friend gave me a pattern for a knitted ball with very explicit directions, not calling them short rows. When I figured out that's what I was doing, it all seemed so simple!  Now I can think of lots of ways of applying them.  KNITTED YARN BALL PATTERN

Materials: 4-ply knitting yarn, 1-12 colors; include some novelty or “fun” yarns (these may need to be doubled up or partnered with a lighter weight yarn to equal the thickness of the 4-ply yarn)

#4 needles

polyfiber filling or washed, old cut-up nylon stockings

This ball comes out about 4-4½" in diameter, about the size of a grapefruit.  The needles are small so the result is a dense fabric and the filling won’t show through.

First section:

Cast on 28 stitches.

Row 1 K 28

Row 2 K 20 (8 st. left on needle), turn

Row 3 K 12 (8 st. left on needle), turn

Row 4 K 14 (6 st. left on needle), turn

Row 5 K 16 (6 st. left on needle), turn

Row 6 K 18 (4 st. left on needle), turn

Row 7 K 20 (4 st. left on needle), turn

Row 8 K 22 (2 st. left on needle), turn

Row 9 K 24 (2 st. left on needle), turn

Row 10 K 26 (0 st. left on needle), turn

Row 11 K 28 (0 st. left on needle)

Row 12 K 28

Sections 2-10 or 2-12:

Change yarn and repeat rows 1-12.  (Don't cut off the old yarn if you plan to use it on another section in that color.)  Change yarn at end of each section.  Make 10 or 12 sections.  (12 rows gives more flexibility for color combinations.)

Finishing:

Bind off when done with last section.  Leave a 2-foot or so tail to stitch up.  Decide which side of the ball you want to be the outside–the one with the adjoining colors interlinked or the one with a clean boundary.  If you have decide to have the “wrong” side of the ball be the outside, knit a Row 13 (repeat of Row 12) in the color of the section you will be stitching to.  

With a tapestry needle threaded with the tail, stitch through the end stitches of the rows and pull tight; for extra strength, repeat.  Continue sewing up the open side about 2/3 of the way.

Stuff the ball as firmly as you like and sew up the remaining 1/3 of the seam.  Stitch through the end stitches of the rows and pull tight; for extra strength, repeat.  Make a knot and run the end of the yarn into the ball and cut off.

on Jun 11, 2012 10:12 PM

Also look at Cat Bordhi's videos on you tube about how to hide the wraps without a telltale bar. Or look at the you tube videos of german short row knitting which is a truly different and easy way to do short rows!

weaversouth wrote
on Jun 11, 2012 5:06 PM

I LOVE short-rows.  While I was pretty much restricted to bed-rest for a long time, I decided it was time to learn to turn a heel on a sock and learned how to use them.  Since then, I've found so many great ways to employ them in my knitting.