Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Short rows: method

Today TECHknitting shows short row how-to: basic, wrap-and-turn, Japanese and so on.

VARIATION 1: Basic short rows
(category: no-wrap, no-lift)

As stated in the last post (theory of short rows) short rows are made by sneaking little short rows into the middle of the work--rows which don't go from edge to edge. Illustration 1a is a schematic of these in their most basic form.

  • Rows 1 and 2 (black) ordinary rows, each goes from edge to edge
  • Row 3 (yellow) ordinary row, goes from edge to edge, colored yellow for reference
  • Row 4 (dark blue) partial short row--starts on the right edge like an ordinary row, but is stopped short of the left edge when the work is turned at the bright blue turn-point (also called a "turn-loop"). This is a partial short row because it touches one edge (right edge) but not the other.
  • Row "Sh" (red) a fully short row--starts at the bright blue turn-point, is worked towards the right edge but is stopped short when the work is again turned at the pink turn-point. This is a fully short row--it reaches neither the right edge nor the left edge.
  • Row 5 (green) partial short row--starts at the pink turn-point and is worked all the way through to the left edge. It is a partial row because it touches only one edge (left edge) but not the other. As it travels past the left edge of the red row (dotted green line) it must be worked into the underlying yellow row (dotted yellow line)
  • Row 6 (purple) ordinary row, goes from edge to edge. Where it travels past the left edge of the red row (dotted purple line) it must be worked into the underlying partial dark blue row (dark blue dotted line)
  • Row 7 (black) ordinary row, goes from edge to edge.

Illustration 1b shows this same schematic, a bit simplified, translated into actual knit stitches.

Of the greatest interest to us are the turn-loops--the bright blue and pink bits at either edge of the fully short red row. As you can see, when you simply work to the turn-points of a short row, then turn and work back, the turn loops at the short row edges aren't connected to the stitches alongside. In other words, the red row is only connected at the top (to the green row) and the bottom (to the dark blue row) BUT ISN'T CONNECTED AT THE LEFT (the bright-blue turn-loop does not touch the yellow stitch alongside) NOR AT THE RIGHT (the pink turn-loop does not touch the dark-blue stitch alongside). Instead, the fabric has two HOLES at these turn-points.

A very great deal of human ingenuity has been devoted to closing these holes, and different techniques have arisen. The most common techniques involve extending the turn-loops so that they are "wrapped" around the stitches alongside them. As explained in greater detail below, the wraps can either be left in place or be further operated upon by being "lifted" (also called "being unwrapped"). In fact, many different short row techniques can be categorized by the exact combination of "wraps" and "lifts" employed. As you can see, at their turn-points, the most basic short rows shown in illustration 1b have had their turn-loops neither "wrapped" nor "lifted," and so these basic, rather primitive short rows we've just been looking at are categorized as "no-wrap, no-lift."

VARIATION 2--"Wrap and turn" basic short rows
(category: wrap, no-lift)
These are the first, simplest variation on short rows. Here's the how-to in a stockinette fabric, supposing you are working from the smooth (knit) side.

Illustration 2a Knit to the spot where you wish to turn. This means to knit into the very last stitch of your short row. In the illustration, five dark blue stitches have been knit and the fifth stitch is the last stitch knitted before step 2b.

Illustration 2b: Slip the next stitch on the tip of the left needle (yellow) to the right needle and bring the running yarn (bright blue in this illustration) AROUND the slipped stitch. In other words, bring the yarn from the back to the front (towards you) between the yellow stitch and its neighbor to the left.

Illustration 2c: Replace the slipped stitch onto the left needle. Steps 2b and c together are the "wrap" part of this maneuver--you have wrapped the bright blue turn-loop around the neck of its neighbor to the left--the yellow stitch.

Illustration 2d: Turn the work. "Turning" means
  • turn the work back-to-front so you are now looking at the purl side of the fabric,
  • the darker-colored needle formerly in your right hand is now in your left hand while the lighter-colored needle formerly in your left hand is now in your right hand, and that
  • in the ordinary direction of work, you will now be purling back towards the same edge you set out from in illustration 2a.
In addition to turning the work, you must also switch the running yarn (red in this illustration) forward into position for purling.

Illustration 2e: The running yarn has been brought forward (towards you) and one purl stitch has been created. Now that the work has been turned and one purl stitch worked, you can better see how the bright blue turn-loop is wrapped around the neck of the yellow stitch.

When all the stitches required by the pattern to be purled have been worked, the short row is ended. In this illustration, a 4-stitch short row (red) has been worked. On the next stitch to the left (dark blue) repeat the wrap steps (same as steps 2b and c) but this time, working from the purl side.

Illustration 2f shows the final result after the blue stitch has been slipped, wrapped with the running yarn (pink in this illustration) and replaced on the left needle.

Illustration 2g: Turn the work again, and knit the bright green row. Now you can better see that the pink turn-loop is wrapped around the neck of the dark blue stitch alongside.

(Just a little preview of what is to come: the very next variation on short rows in this post is exactly the same as this one right through the end of this step, 2-g.)

Illustration 2h: In this simplified variation of wrap-and-turn, the knitting simply continues. As you can see, this means that the bright blue turn-loop remains in where it now is, wrapped around the neck of the yellow stitch, and the knitting simply goes on without any fuss or fanfare on through to the end of the row.

On the next row, simply purl all the way back. As with step 2h, the turn-loop (pink in this case) simply remains in place, wrapped around the neck of the dark blue stitch as the work goes on in the usual way. Illustration 2i shows the finished fabric.

If you compare illustration 2i to illustration 1b, you'll see that they're the same with one exception: in illustration 1b, the bright blue and the pink turn-loops are not connected to the stitches alongside of them, while in illustration 2i, they are.

This variation of short rows is created by "wrapping" the turn-loops around the necks of the stitches alongside. Once the wraps are created, they remain in the fabric--per illustration 2h, you simply knit or purl into the top of the stitch with the wrap around its neck. Because the wrap is left undisturbed and never "unwrapped" or "lifted" off the necks of the underlying stitches, these sorts of short rows are categorized as "wrap-no-lift" or "wrap-unlifted."

For many kinds of knitting, wrap-no-lift short rows are just fine--for one example, many knitters use these for sock heels where the stacked diagonal line of the unlifted wraps make a pleasant pattern. For another example, when working in garter stitch or reverse stockinette, these wrap-no-lift short rows are actually are the best kind to use. The wrap creates a sturdy attachment, while the little bump created by the wrap remains hidden because the turn-loops are indistinguishable in the midst of the naturally bumpy fabric.

However, as you can see in illustration 2i, in a stockinette fabric, these unlifted wraps (bright blue and pink) show on the surface of the fabric. So, of course, some clever knitter of long ago said to herself "I bet I could get rid of those little bumps there," and she did, by inventing...

VARIATION 3: Wrap and Turn and Unwrap short rows
(category: wrap-and-lift)

The point of "lifting" the wraps (also called "unwrapping") is to hide them so they don't show on the smooth face of a stockinette fabric. This is done by lifting the wraps off the necks of the underlying stitches. Once lifted, the turn-loop becomes a loose loop sticking out of the side of the fabric, and this loose loop can be hidden by knitting (k2tog) or purling (ssp) it together with its neighboring stitch (that being the stitch around whose neck it was formerly wrapped). The k2tog or ssp preserves the attachment between the short rows ends and the fabric, while getting rid of the bump.

As stated earlier, unlifted and lifted wraps are identical up through illustration 2g, above. Illustration 2g shows the bright-blue wrapped yellow stitch about to be knit. In making lifted wraps, we stop there and don't go on to step 2h. Instead we "lift" the blue wrap off the yellow stitch. Specifically, the right needle is inserted under the bright blue turn-loop and used to pry ("lift") it up off of the yellow stitch. The result will be as shown in illustration 3a, below: the bright blue turn-loop now protrudes from the side of the short rows.

Normally, of course, we wouldn't abandon the bright-blue turn-loop just waving around in the air like that. Illustration 3a is just for ... well... just for illustration purposes! Really, what we do is lift the wrap off and deposit it straight away onto the left needle, where it should come to rest with its right arm forward (untwisted) as shown in illustration 3b, below.

As further shown by the purple arrow, the lifted loop (bright blue) and its left-hand neighbor (the yellow stitch it used to be wrapped around) are now to be knitted together.

Illustration 3c shows the actual knitting together--this is an ordinary k2tog (scroll link for description).

After the bright blue turn-loop has been k2tog'ed with the yellow stitch, the work proceeds to the end of the row, and then the work is turned. Per illustration 3c, in our illustration fabric that would mean that after the k2tog, only 1 more stitch remains to be knit before the work is turned to the purl side.

On the reverse fabric face, purl back to the (dark blue) wrapped stitch. Now comes an awkward series of maneuvers to disengage the pink wrap from the blue stitch. You will find that you aren't really lifting the pink wrap off the blue stitch, but rather are slipping the wrapped stitch off of both needles and, while this assembly hangs in the air, using both needle tips to wiggle the blue stitch out of the pink wrap's embrace.

Once the blue stitch and the pink wrap are disengaged, they are placed onto the left needle in the order shown shown by illustration 3d, below. Specifically, the blue stitch goes on first, and it's very important that it be placed LEFT ARM FORWARD. The pink wrap goes onto the left needle next, and it is also placed LEFT ARM FORWARD. (FYI: laying these two stitches left arm forward is the same re-orientation maneuver as the first step of slip-slip-purl--ssp--a left-leaning decrease made from the purl side--more on this just below.)

Following the purple arrow, you will now purl the stitches together, working through the BLUE stitch first. The reason to purl them together in this position is to force the blue stitch to the fabric surface in an untwisted manner, while forcing the pink turn-loop behind, where it cannot be seen.

Are you having trouble purling these together from this position? It is admittedly awkward, so if you need further help, please click on this link, and scroll to the part about "Left-leaning purl decreases" also called "slip-slip-purl" (ssp). This identical situation of purling two stitches together from the left-arm-forward, second-stitch-first position is covered in great detail at the link.

After ssp'ing together the blue stitch with the pink wrap, work to the end of the row, and turn again. The fabric is now worked further in the usual manner. As shown in illustration 3e, unwrapping the turn-loops by lifting them off the necks of their neighbors, then k2tog'ing/ssp'ing them together with these neighbors makes a beautiful fabric.

In illustration 3e, all the distracting coloring has been removed, leaving only the pink and the blue wrap still colored. As shown, it is nearly impossible to determine where the short rows are located, and the wraps are well hidden.

VARIATION 4. Digging or Pinning
(category: lift, no-wrap)

The trick of this variation is to avoid wrapping but retain the lifting. The rationale is twofold: avoiding the extra yarn inserted at the "wrap" stage, as well as avoiding the extra manhandling of stitches which accompanies the wrapping and lifting (unwrapping). Nevertheless, the short rows must be attached, and the end result of lifting--where the turn-loop is k2tog'ed or ssp'ed together with its left-hand neighbor--looks very well indeed. So how about the best of both worlds--not wrapping but still lifting? There are two ways to lift without wrapping.

If you go back to illustration 1b, you'll notice that the unwrapped turn-loops, both bright-blue and pink, are laying between the edges of the short rows and the stitches alongside. It would be possible to simply dig these turn-loops out of the fabric, lift them onto the left needle and either knit (bright blue) or purl (pink) these stitches together with their neighbors. Once lifted out of the fabric, these turn-loops would be treated just as are the turn-loops in illustrations 3b and 3d.

Digging the turn-loops out of the fabric can be challenging because they're hard to see. Here's a trick to make it easier using a pin--either a coil-less safety pin or a bobby-pin.

As shown in illustration 4a, as each turn-point (bright blue and pink) is reached, then instead of wrapping the turn-loops around the neighboring stitch as in variations 2 and 3 of this post, the turn loop is instead caught on a pin. If using a safety pin as shown, simply fasten it shut around--not through--the turn loop before turning the work and knitting or purling back. If using a bobby pin, simply slide it onto the turn loop and leave it there, hanging--same idea as a J-shaped cable needle, only smaller.

As shown in illustration 4b, when the time comes to lift the turn-loop onto the left needle, the turn-loop can be grabbed very readily by simply grasping the pin and pulling the loop onto the left needle that way.

After the turn-loop is safely on the left needle and oriented whichever arm forward is required, the pin is removed and the work goes forward as shown in illustrations 3b (knit side) and 3d (purl side). The turn-loops, not having been wrapped or otherwise manhandled, are shorter and tidier.

VARIATION 5: Japanese Short Rows
(category: slip, lift, no-wrap)
Japanese short rows combine the no-wrap/pin variation of part 4 with one more trick: slipping stitches. Slipping a stitch means there is even less yarn to stretch out, making Japanese short rows the tightest and tidiest (as seen from the knit side) of any short rows. Shown below is how the work would proceed if you were starting on the smooth (knit) side of a stockinette fabric.

On the knit side, knit all the stitches right up to the turning point. Attach a pin (safety pin or bobby pin, makes absolutely no difference) around the running yarn, in the same manner as in illustration 4a. Turn the work. Now on the purl side, SLIP the first stitch from the left needle to the right needle without working it.

Illustration 5a shows the purl side of the fabric. The pin has been set, the first stitch (red with blue dots) slipped and the next stitch (red) purled.

A quick note about color and orientation: in illustration 5a, the slipped stitch is colored red with blue dots. The red is to indicate that this slipped stitch is now part of the fully-short (red) row, the blue dots are to indicate that this stitch started off life as a stitch from the partial row BELOW the red row--the dark-blue row. By slipping, this stitch has been stretched up into a bridge position: it is now a member of the dark-blue row AND of the red row. Note that this dotted stitch has been slipped "purlwise" which means it was slipped open (untwisted) and right arm forward, as shown.

Purl until you reach the purl turn-point. Again set a pin around the running yarn, turn the work and and again slip the first stitch from the left needle to the right needle purlwise. Next, knit to the end of the short row, finishing by knitting into the top of the stitch you first slipped. Illustration 5b shows the end result: the purl side pin has been set and all the knit stitches of the red fully-short row worked back, ending with a knit into the top of the slipped stitch.

Another quick note about color and orientation: the stitch slipped in the purl turn has been colored red with green dots. The red is to indicate that the stitch started life as a member of the red fully-short row, while the green dots are to indicate that, by slipping, this stitch has been stretched up into a bridge position between the red and green rows.: the stitch is now a member of the red row AND the green row. Again, this dotted stitch has been slipped purlwise.

Doesn't Illustration 5b look familiar? In fact, except for the fancy dotted slipped stitches, the situation is exactly the same as the classic wrap-and-turns showed in variations 3 and, especially, 4. If you tug the blue turn loop onto your left needle with the attached pin and then remove the pin, you'll have the same set-up as in illustration 3b, and you continue the same as shown there. In other words, the turn-loop on the pin is pulled up onto the left needle right arm first, the pin is removed, then a k2tog is performed to work the turn-loop together with its left-hand neighbor. The fabric is then worked to the end of the row and turned onto the purl side.

In the next row, when you have worked through to the purl turning point, you purl the stitch previously slipped. Next, using the right needle, you re-orient the next stitch on the left needle so it lays left arm forward, then, grasping the pin, pull the turning loop onto the left needle, also left arm forward. You will now have two loops on your left needle which should be laying the same as illustration 3d. These two loops are now purled together from this position, as per the instructions accompanying illustration 3d.

Illustration 5c shows the finished product from the back. You will note that the turn-loops have been pulled into "bars" across the back of the fabric. This is because they had to be pulled across the back of the dotted slipped stitches in order to be k2tog'ed or ssp'ed.

Illustration 5d shows the Japanese short rows from the front. The turn loops are colored but the rest of the fabric is not. If you compare this illustration to illustration 3e, you'll see that the fabrics are pretty nearly the same, but the Japanese short rows have fewer stitches. Having fewer stitches would translate to a tighter, tidier fabric, at least from the knit side.

Variation 1 are the the most basic kind of short row a basic short row, unwrapped and unlifted--a no-wrap-no-lift short row.The problem, of course, is that not wrapping and not lifting leaves end stitches of the short row unattached to the fabric stitches alongside of them, resulting in holes at the turning point.

Variation 2 are the basic wrapped short rows, where the wrap is simply left in the fabric, a wrap-no-lift short row. By wrapping the running yarn around the neck of the fabric stitch alongside before turning the work, the short row ends are connected to the fabric, eliminating the holes. When the wrapped stitches are again encountered, the wraps are left in place unlifted--the stitches with the wraps around their little necks are simply knitted or purled as if nothing was different about them. This works well on a bumpy fabric, such as garter stitch or reverse stockinette stitch, but on a smooth stockinette fabric, the wraps show as bumps.

Variation 3 are wrap-and-turn short rows with the refinement of unwrapping the wraps when you encounter them again. These wrap-and-lift short rows smooth the stockinette front face of the fabric by lifted the bumpy wraps and hiding them on the fabric back via a k2tog (knit side) or ssp (purl side).

Variation 4, digging or pinning the turn-loops results in lift, no-wrap short rows and digging/pinning is a further refinement to part 3. Instead of adding extra yarn to the turn-loops by wrapping them around the necks of their neighbors, the turn-loops are kept tight and afterwards either dug out of the fabric or pulled up by means of their attached safety or bobby pins. Not-wrapping not only keeps excess yarn out the fabric, but it also means the stitches are manhandled less--less flicking about of stitches and running yarn. The structure of the resulting fabric looks exactly like the finished fabric of part 3 (shown in illustration 3e) just tighter and tidier.

Variation 5, Japanese (slip, lift, no-wrap) short rows, represent the ultimate refinement. Not only is the turn-loop kept tight by wrapping it around a saftey pin instead the neck of its neighboring fabric stitch, but the first stitch after the turning-point is kept tight also, by slipping it (same idea as a slipped-stitch selvedge). When the turn-loop is reached, it must be pulled by the pin out of the fabric and worked together with its left hand neighbor, and this pulling tightens the fabric even further.

Which method to use?
The wrapped-and-lifted method (variation 3) is probably the default. It has ease of execution on its side (no digging, no pins to be set and unset) and it looks reasonably well on the smooth knit side of a stockinette fabric. However, in a very bulky yarn, or a very slippery yarn, keeping the short row ends as tight as possible is a worthy goal, and for this purpose, the lift-no-wrap short rows (variation 4) probably have the advantage. However, you must balance this advantage against the cost--either the turn-loops have to be dug out, or pins have to be set and then unset, either of which is quite a bit slower than wrapping/unwrapping.

Japanese short rows (variation 5) are the ultimate in tight, good-looking wraps on the knit face but have a disadvantage on the purl side of a bar along the fabric back. I personally don't use Japanese short rows for this reason, but take this with a grain of salt. I'm lazy, and don't use the dig or pin variation either (variation 4) despite thinking that this looks better than ordinary wrap-and-turn (variation 3). Notwithstanding my laziness and aversion to the bar, however, I suspect that in a couture knit--perhaps in a silk ribbon for an ultimately-to-be-lined business suit, the ultra-refined Japanese short row would be the best of all.

Bottom line: as in all things knitting, different techniques have different strengths and weaknesses, and different knitters have different (and frequently strong) opinions. You must select for yourself from the smorgasbord of short rows, of which 5 different kinds are here presented.
Further variations exist also:
  • Yarn over short rows: instead of wrapping/unwrapping, a turn-loop can be made into a yarn over (yo) and this yo is then worked together with the neighboring left hand stitch from the fabric proper when the fabric has been worked to the yo location. This works especially well as an alternative to the dig variation -- variation 4. A yo can also be substituted for the pin in Japanese short rows, with the yo made after the slipped stitch.
  • M1 short rows: the turn loop can be ignored, ie: the work can be left as in illustration 1b, with the edges of the short rows--the turn-loops--left unattached. Then, the last stitch of the short row can be k2tog'ed or ssp'ed together with the neighboring stitch out of the fabric. Lastly, the stitch count is brought back to the original number by lifting a new stitch, m1 fashion, out of the tail of the stitch just to the left of the new k2tog or ssp.
I have no doubt that yet further variations exist, and confidently anticipate hearing of them in the comments, because, let's face it--knitting ingenuity is boundless!

(Whew. Most illustrations in a TECHknitting post yet...)

You have been reading TECHknitting blog on short row methods--basic short rows, wrap and turn short rows, Japanese short rows.


Anonymous said...

But, as always, incredibly lucid and informative illustrations! Thanks you for this post!

stebo79 said...

Fleegle has discovered yet another way, which I prefer lately.

Greets, Steffi

Micki said...

This is the best short row tutorial I have ever seen--kudos!

Ruth said...

This is wonderful! I always enjoy your posts, but this one really clicked with me. The illustrations are clear, comprehensible, and much appreciated. Thank you so much.

Angeluna said...

Wow! Thank you.

Funnily enough, I checked your blog a few weeks ago for short rows and you didn't have anything, which I found disappointing. The next day you started your tutorial.

Lilian said...

Oh gosh, I was just doing short rows yesterday and trying to figure out how to make it as neat and tidy as possible and saw your post today! Now, the perfectionist me is thinking of redoing..but the practical me say, print these out and keep it for the next short rows.

Jean said...

Thank you for sharing all this knowledge.

Kathleen said...

Wow, thank you! I'm a little tired just reading this but am so grateful for all the information and comparison.

Cheryl S. said...

Excellent - thank you! It's nice to see a comparison of the different techniques. The illustrations are very helpful.

I've always had problems doing short rows at the back neck of sweaters worked in the round, since the last wrap doesn't get unwrapped until I've knitted around the sweater and am coming at it from the opposite side. I've always had trouble making it look neat. With your illustrations showing the path of the yarn, maybe I can make a neater job of it next time.

Amybel said...

I'va always stayed away from anything with short rows. Thanks for the tutorial and the illustrations are great! I might try it now!

fuzzyjay said...

Your posts are always full of win. I find it incredible that you have both the ability to make these fantastic illustrations and the patience and skill to describe the process as well.

NerdGirl said...

Excellent post that finally clears up my nagging doubts about short rows and how to do them properly. Thank you so much!!

Kelsey said...

Wow, what great illustrations. They could be artwork! I'd put up some framed prints in my studio!

Anonymous said...

Excellent explanation as usual. ;)

A good application (at least for me) of the no-wrap short rows will be when using reinforcing thread on the heel on a sock. Trying to pick up a wool-and-thread wrap has been problematic for me. Thanks!


Diane in Chico said...

THANK YOU, for all the time you spend making these clear and enlightening lessons. Just, THANK YOU.

ly said...


Thank you...

Dana said...

That's about the best tutorial I've seen on anything!

Unfortunately on the sweater I just knit in Gedifra Top Soft, the extended loop showed anyway and I couldn't do the short row bust and sleeves I wanted.

Kivy said...

I love short-rows, and you just blew me away with your explanations. As a highly visual person, your illustrations make everything so clear. Thank you!

--TECHknitter said...

Many thanks for all the nice comments! TK

moniqueleigh said...

I am absolutely in love with the "Yo-Yo" or "Double-Stitch Short Row Heel":

Heather said...

I'm doing a pattern with Japanese short rows, but I think the pattern's method is different from the one you describe. They've demonstrated it here on youtube:

Littknits said...

What a wonderful tutorial on short rows! I have a question though about short row heels on socks. No matter which method I use, I get holes along the entire diagonal line of increasing/decreasing. Is there a solution for this other than using a heel flap and avoiding the short row heels altogether?

mikaelah said...


I just feel that it's time to write a big THANK YOU, since I've been lurking here for several months.

I've been trying to understand short row theory and practice for a while, but this is the first time things have made sense to me.

I'm not an experienced knitter at all, but I love to try different techniques, and when I tried the japanese short rows for a sock heel last night everything turned out beautiful!

So, a million thank yous for the time and effort you put into this blog, it's absolutely fantastic.

Cheers from a Swedish knitter!

Sissi said...

Thank you for your wonderful and instructive blog - I learned a lot!

There is another variation of working short rows, that is very common in Germany and Austria (and is published in a lot of German books and weblogs): it is the „double stitch“, that is very easy to work and looks excellent. I never read about it in English books or online.
Please try:
Work to the first turning point and turn the work, bring yarn in front of work an slip the first stitch with yarn in front purlwise, then bring yarn to the back and pull very firmly until a “double stitch” forms.
Work in pattern (knit or purl) to the second turning point, turn and work another “double stitch”: with yarn in front slip the first stitch purlwise, bring yarn to back and pull firmly again, until the double stitch forms.
To “hide” the double stitches:
Work back to the first double stitch and if you are on the knit side, knit this stitch like a normal knit stitch, but through both legs of the stitch; then continue knitting like usual.

If you are on the purl side purl the double stitch like a normal purl stitch, but through both legs.

Maybe this sound complicated - but give it a try with needles and yarn, it is really very easy to do and it looks very good!!
Greets, Sissi
Fan of your blog from Austria)

clare said...

Oh perfect timing! I'm just doing my first ever short row sleeve cap: pick up and knit stitches round the armhole, then short rows to and fro, gradually getting longer until the sleeve head is formed.

One question: what to I do with the last wrap when I'm knitting in the round?

My difficulty is that it was made on a purl row, but as I'm now knitting on the round, I approach it from the knit side, so the wrap is round the right side of the stitch instead of round the left side.

To explain: having picked up stitches round the armhole, the round begins at the underarm and comes up the front of the armhole, over and just past the shoulder. Wrap and turn and purl up over and just past the shoulder. Wrap and turn and knit to wrapped stitch, pick up wrap, knit one more, wrap and turn. And so on, each row going a couple of stitches past the previous wrap.

Until about an inch before the beginning of the round. Having done the last purl short row, I wrap and turn and knit the round, picking up the penultimate wrap (the one that was made on a knit row) and continue around the bottom of the armhole.

About an inch later, I meet the final wrap but I'm coming at it from the opposite way, so the wrap passes round the right side of the stitch, not the left side.

Which I think is different to the examples in your illustrations.

How do I pick it up to hide it?

I'm not sure whether I need to be knitting the wrap or stitch first, from front or back or with stitches twisted or .... help!


--TECHknitter said...

Hi Clare--I'm not exactly following your question, but maybe I could follow better if you sent a photo? My e-mail address if, and I do my best to answer all the e-mails I get. Looking forward to hearing from you further

Chris said...

Thanks for yet another terrific explanation. Do you have any plans for a Part Three about how to bridge the turning points when the first round after the short rows is worked in the round? My short rows look fine when I'm knitting flat, but when I'm knitting in the round, one side never looks very pretty.

Clair St. Michel said...

BWAHAHAHAHA the short row shall be MINE!!!!

Annie said...

Excellent info, thank you SO much!

Anonymous said...

I have seen another way of dealing with short rows. I used this on a scarf worked in fine mohair on thick needles.
shows how it's done. I like it. It's fast and I thinks it look reasonably good.

Just Me said...

I agree with Chris--short rows in the round always look awful on one side, no matter what method I try. I think it's because the wrap or lifted stitch is after the stitch that is knitted first when coming back around to the beginning of the short row. the Japanese way has been best, but I still have to twist the stitches around and it looks bumpy no matter what I do.

Cathy said...

I just tried the method that Sissi mentioned. Lo wraps or lifted stitches. I used it for Short Rows In The Round and they were the best yet. A bit of a bump on the right side of the short row (after knitting around the back to approach that short row turn from the "wrong" side) but it really looks better than anything else I've tried. I also did it in a Cotton Cashmere yarn that is very inelastic and so very unforgiving of holes. As she says -- give it a try it really is a nice technique. --- it is also mentioned in Voge Knitting International, Winter 2009/10 for the Ribbed Cardigan design # 26. There is a techniques section with photos.

Dana Murphy said...

I love your blog. How do you produce your *amazing* graphics?



TECHknitter said...

Hi Dana: The illustrations are made with Adobe Illustrator, a vector drawing program.


savvy said...

This is the method I use for doing short rows in the round (it's the Japanese method, but in the round). I've used this numerous times and it always comes out looking perfect.

Anonymous said...

Knit to end of short row.
Turn. Do not wrap.
Slip first stitch. Purl back.

When you come to knit past the end of the short row, there will be a gap. (If you're worried about finding this gap, you can insert a marker where you turn.)

When you come to the slipped stitch, slip it again, pick up the back of the stitch in the row below the next stitch. Return this and the slipped stitch to the left needle and SSK or K2tog (or PPK or P2tog) them so that the picked up st is behind the real stitch.

It works and it's fast. The down side is that you can miss an unmarked gap and leave a hole. It's not as elegant as the Japanese method but for many situations it's better than just good enough.

CHE said...

I use a variation of the Wrap-Turn-Unwrap that I found in June Hemmons Hiatt POP. The wraps and unwraps are just as you describe, but like in Japanese Short Rows, the first stitch after the turn is slipped purlwise instead of worked. This slipped stitch in counted as part of the short row count. So if the pattern says "...W&T, k12..." I would "...W&T,slip 1 purlwise, k11..."

I find the pinning/unpinning in Japanese SRs just too fiddly, and breaks the flow of my knitting. The YO version of a short row joins always come out to loose for me. So all in all, a very tight wrap with a slipped first st to lessen the jump from row to row seems to be the Goldilocks-just-right solution in terms of tidy looks and ease of execution.

Your tutorial is excellent and your graphics explain so very well exactly what happens structurally. You're right up there in my pantheon of knitting gurus.

Tacki said...

You're my knitting goddess!!!

Sheila E said...

I'd love to see an update to this series comparing the M1 method and methods using the "mother" stitch.

Stefanie said...

My new favorite method is the shadow short row because it is the easiest - no wraps to pick up or pins to deal with.

Stephanie Farrow said...

I just learned to short row strictly from your tutorial... thank you! Amazing!

Debi said...

Re: Japanese short rows - I'm not sure how the safety pin method ended up labeled "Japanese"; do you have any insight on that? I've never seen the safety pin method in any Japanese pattern book. Short rows in Japanese patterns almost exclusively use a right side-to-wrong side yarn over instead of the safety pin, e.g. turn, yarn over, slip, and later on the yarn over is knit together with the stitch on the other side of the gap. The end result is the same as Variation 5, maybe slightly looser, but the execution is much simpler.

TECHknitter said...

My understanding is that the **slipped stitch** is the essence of the "Japanese-ness." The pin is just to make it easy to pull the yarn up on the next row.

Dianna said...

Great explanation, but what if you are doing reverse stocking knit stitch? The wraps can't be seen from the purl side??

Anonymous said...

Im trying short rows for the first time. On lace. Which is kind of mind boggling. Im going to try a couple of these on a swatch and see what works best. I have been saving this beautiful yarn for 4the years and im finally ready to knit with it. But im terrified of screwing the beautiful yarn up. Thanks for the info. Ill let you know how it goes. Lol

Eco Chic Knits said...

Thank you so much for this review of short row techniques. I was going to try the Japanese method on my most recent garment, but your summary saved me a lot of rip out time! I'm using seed stitch and it has too look good on both right and wrong facing sides.

Liz Freudenberger said...

Thank you for this awesome tutorial. All of your posts are helpful, but this one is great!

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much! I have learned so much about knitting from you, and whenever I am stumped, I do a search on your blog. Your posts are so clear and easy to understand, and you have de-mystified knitting for me. Love!

Kathryn said...

Similar to the fleegle method, but slightly easier for me to understand is using shadow wraps.

It is also a no wrap, no picking up method that turns out beautifully on both sides.

cm said...

I'm a long-time lurker - it's about time I said thanks! Thank-you for all of your informative tutorials :) Your excellent instructions make learning new techniques enjoyable.

Valerie Taylor said...

Either I haven't had enough coffee or you've got a typo (between the >>> <<<:

Are you having trouble purling these together from this position? It is admittedly awkward, so if you need further help, please click on this link, and scroll to the part about "Left-leaning purl decreases" also called >>>>"slip-slip-knit" (ssp).<<<< This identical situation of purling two stitches together from the left-arm-forward, second-stitch-first position is covered in great detail at the link.

Kim said...

Wow so much detail,effort and time, sincere thank you to all
First time "short row/wnt/w&t" and readers i am so confused.doing collar on first time ever tried a ragland cardigan, in seed stitch...having an issue ripped out i have a difficult time seeing the wraps not to mention doing the wraps.thanks to everyone i am hoping this better understanding may help but at the moment i think actually trying to find away to mark each wrap is my only way to actually complete this garment-yet i am unsure of the best way to use a marker & what type of marker to use for 16 wraps per side i have done 4 swatches, readers only one remains in knit stitch have not completed one in seed stitch, is it just me? Why can't i see the difference in the wrap and purl? Can't believe i am admitting this perhaps because we throw caution to the wind, to help others feel comfortable stating what their issues are with confidence
All i can say is thank you for this site, and for everyone who tries to help out a true committee of strangers helping strangers, the true meaning of "committee" a very sincere thank you

TECHknitter said...

Hi Kim--if you put a safety pin at each wrap, you might be able to pick them out better when you come to them again. Seed stitch is a harder stitch to "read" than some, and the pins might make it easier. Best, TK

Janet R said...

Thank you so much! The illustrations are the best and very helpful.
Question: I've adjusted a pattern for a pair of socks so now have a different number of stitches (12) on my needle for heel shaping from the pattern (18). I"ve tried finding a pattern using 12 stitches in the heel but haven't had any luck. How can I adjust the pattern so I know where to turn? Any suggestions?

primroads said...

I'm impressed by your clarity. Thank you! I have a question. At the end of your explanation of triangles, you indicate picking up stitches from the inside row for the next triangle. I am surmising that the needles are on the wrong side and the stitches are picked up going down the inside edge of the triangle to the base row and then turned to the right side for the next triangle. Do I have that right?

TECHknitter said...

Hi Primroads--can you direct me to where in the post you mean? Thanks, TK

Anonymous said...

I believe auto short rows are the same as your #4, with digging rather than pins. I've seen the auto short row in some 1940's patterns but no where else.