Short Rows and Wraps

Short rows are a useful way to add pockets of fabric or change the shape of your knitting, such as with a sock heel or sweater shoulder. They are also easily adjustable and cause minimal disruption to your average stitch pattern. This makes them a great way to customize the fit of almost anything you knit. Below are the basics of how to use them.

When you get to the row where your short rows will begin, work the number of stitches required by the pattern. Then, to prevent a hole from forming in the fabric, you will wrap (but not knit) the next stitch before turning your work.

wrapped knit stitch

Wrap the stitch.

Do this by moving the yarn to the front of the work, then slipping the next stitch and returning the yarn to the back of your work. Put the slipped stitch back on the left needle, then turn your knitting and work back across the stitches in the opposite direction. You will have left the last few stitches (four in the photo above) completely untouched.

You will probably repeat this step several times, working several fewer stitches each time. If you are forming a pocket of fabric, such as with a heel, you may also not work all the way back across the row before turning again.

wrapped purl stitch

Purl stitches wrap the same way.

When you’ve worked as many short rows as you plan to, you’ll simply resume working all the way to the end of the row. However, now it’s time to hide all those wrapped stitches so you don’t mar the look of your pattern. When you get to a wrapped stitch, you will see a little bar of yarn at the base of it. Pick it up and place it on the needle.

pick up wrap

Pick up the wrapped stitch.

knit together

Knit the wrap together with the wrapped stitch.

Work this stitch together with the stitch it was wrapped around, as if it were a k2tog (or p2tog). Repeat this process for each stitch you previously wrapped. If you are working one-ended short rows, such as with a short row shoulder, this will be the only row where you pick up wraps to hide. If you are doing two-ended short rows, such as on the bust of a sweater, you will need to do this on the next row as well to catch all of the wraps.

purl together

The process is similar for wrapped purl stitches.

But what if you’re working short rows near the end of your work, such as in the shoulders or to accommodate a dowager’s hump? Can you hide wraps and bind off at the same time? Of course.

Bind off like normal until you reach the wrapped stitch. Pick up and knit the the wrapped stitch together with the original stitch, like always.

knit wrap together

Knit the wrap with the wrapped stitch, like usual.

Then pass the first stitch over the newly reduced stitch as if it were an ordinary stitch. One stitch remains on your needle. Continue binding off.

bind off

Bind off like normal.

Those are the basics. Any other tricky aspects of short rows I can clarify?

P.S. The close-up shots with my new camera are SO much better than the old ones!!

Need a project to practice on? Try my Brambleton.


3 responses to this post.

  1. Lovely tutorial! I am about to start the short rows in my sweater, and this is a great refresher. Thank you.


  2. Posted by caityrosey on June 27, 2012 at 5:58 pm

    Just wanted to let you know that I’ve nominated you for an award. Meander over to my blog for details when you have a moment.


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