Short rows are partial rows of
knitting. They are used to shape projects in a way that
decreases or increases cannot accomplish. They can create darts in
a pullover and heels of a sock. You can make wedges or "slices of
a pie"; when the wedges are continually made, you have an entire
"pie" and, depending upon the scale, you will have a cloth or a
large circular throw. Short rows can also be used to create a bell
curve, which knits up as a wonderful shawl collar on a sweater.
Don't shy away from a pattern using short rows because it just
seems too complicated. Once you
get the hang of it, it's no more difficult than knitting or
There are two important concepts
in short rows: turning and wrapping.
It may seem incorrect, but turn whenever your pattern indicates
to do so. You may be at the end of a row or you may not be; if
you're not at the end, turn your work just as if you were at the
end of the row, and then work the next set of instructions going
in the other direction. Sometimes you just have to have faith that
it will turn out correctly in the end. So even if it seems totally
wrong, keep going!
Wrapping prevents holes from
forming. There are several ways of accomplishing this and
your pattern should give specific instructions. What's important
to note is that the working yarn is literally wrapped around a
stitch; usually this is a slipped stitch.
An instruction may read:
Knit to last 2 sts, wyif slip next st, bring yarn to back, and
slip wrapped st back to left needle. Turn.
So knit across the row until you reach the last 2 stitches of the
row. With the working yarn held in front, slip the next stitch
from the left to the right needle (stitches are always slipped as
if to purl unless otherwise stated). Move the working yarn to the
back. Now slip the stitch you just slipped and wrapped back to the
left needle. Turn right there and continue on with the next set of
instructions; there would be 2 stitches remaining on the left
needle before you turn (one that was wrapped and returned to the
left needle and one that was not worked).
Here’s another example of a different way of wrapping:
Knit to last 2 sts, wyib slip next st, bring yarn to front,
turn, k the slipped st. Knit to end.
In this example, the stitch is slipped with the yarn in the back,
and then the working yarn is brought to the front of the work. You
aren’t slipping the slipped stitch back to the left needle so
there would be only one stitch remaining on the left needle.
Usually, you eliminate the extra strand of the wrap and close off
the hole the next time the stitch is worked. If it's a knit
stitch, insert your needle into the wrap from front to back and
then into the next stitch (the one that is wrapped). Knit the two
(the stitch and the wrap) together. If it's a purl stitch, insert
the needle into the wrap from back to front, then into the stitch
and purl the two together.
With a little practice, you'll be able to use short rows to add
shaping, curves, and more to your projects!