Short rows

“Short rows” are rows of knitting that don’t use all the stitches on the needle, these rows stop short of the end, turn around and go back—these stitches in the middle are worked more times than the stitches at the outside edges. As with most things in knitting, there is more than one method of doing this. So far I have used two very different methods of creating short rows in my designs.

Gap? What gap?

This type of short row is frequently used to turn the heel of a cuff-down sock, and to shape rectangles into crescents. This is not the only method I employ to shape a crescent, but it is the main one (so far).

My patterns that employ this method do not tell you how many rows you will need to knit to shape the crescent. If you really want to know, after working the two setup rows divide the number of stitches remaining unworked on one side or the other (they should match), and divide it by two. That is the total number of rows you will need to knit before shaping is complete.

Please note: unless otherwise noted in the pattern, every row is worked in exactly the same manner. Pick the method that works best for you. You can even swap between them in one project, as the method used does not affect the knitting.

Without markers

After you have worked the two setup rows there will be a noticeable gap between the center stitches, and the stitches to each side where the turns are made.

Do this: Knit to 1 stitch before this gap, k2tog, k3 (or number indicated in pattern), turn.

With markers

If you have trouble seeing the gap where the last row was turned, if the yarn you’re using doesn’t want to cooperate, or for truly mindless knitting, it is perfectly okay to use stitch markers to indicate where to turn. You may place them while working the setup rows (place marker before turning), and any or all remaining rows.

Do this: Knit to 1 stitch before the gap, slip one stitch to working needle without twisting, remove marker, return stitch to other needle, k2tog, k3 (or number indicated in pattern), place marker, turn.

Wrap and turn

Wrapped stitches are often used to shape sleeve caps in sweaters that have top-down set-in sleeves, the top of top-down crescents, shawl collars on sweaters, heels on toe-up socks, and whatever else a designer dreams up. This method has two parts: wrapping the turning stitch, and picking up that wrap and working it later.

These days there are almost as many ways of doing a wrap-and-turn short row as there are reasons to do them. The following is the method I use (so far) in all my patterns.

Part 1: wrap and turn

RS row: knit to point specified in pattern, move yarn to front of work between needles, slip next stitch to RN, move yarn around this stitch to back of work, return stitch to LN, turn work to begin purling back in the other direction.

WS row: purl to point specified in pattern, move yarn to back of work between needles, slip next stitch to RN, move yarn around this stitch to front of work, return stitch to LN, turn work to begin knitting back in the other direction.

Part 2: picking up wraps

RS row: Work to wrapped stitch, slip wrapped stitch from LN to RN, use tip of LN to pick up wrap and place it on RN, insert LN into both wrap and stitch, and knit these 2 sts tog.

WS row: Work to wrapped stitch, slip wrapped stitch from LN to RN, use tip of LN to pick up wrap and place it on RN, slip both wrap and stitch back to LN, purl these 2 sts tog.