Short rows are used to add length to certain areas within a piece of knitting and are, quite literally, partial rows worked across only some of the total stitches.
They're often used to shape the necklines of top-down yoked sweaters, to add bust darts, and slope the shoulders. Short rows can also be used in creative ways to create 3-dimensional shaping in toys and accessories.
To work a short row you'll work partway across a row (or round), then turn the work as if you were at the end of a row and work back across the stitches you just worked. The rest of the stitches will hang out on the needle without being worked.
In most stitch patterns, especially stocking stitch and patterns worked on a stocking stitch base, this will leave a hole at the turning point where the knitting suddenly jumps up 2 rows. Fortunately there are several ways to prevent this hole and achieve a smooth finished appearance.
My preferred methods are shown below: German Short rows, and Wrapless Short rows. If you're new to short rows try experimenting to see which method you like the best.
How to knit German Short rows
This easy short row technique doesn’t require any special tools or notions. If you struggle to get a neat result with wrap and turn rows you might want to try this method. You’ll learn how to create double stitches at the beginning of right and wrong side rows, and how to resolve them on both the knit and purl sides. German short rows can easily be substituted for other methods and the video covers how to substitute them in a pattern that’s written for wrap and turn short rows. If your pattern is written for wrapless, Japanese or Sunday short rows, simply work the number of stitches given in your pattern before turning.
How to knit wrapless short rows
This is my go to short row method, especially for things like sweaters. Almost all short row methods have a structurally identical result, what varies is the tension of the yarn that connects the short row to the previous row and whether any of the stitches involved end up distorted. The thing I like the most about this method is that it produces a very symmetrical result, and it’s easy to close the gaps when knitting in the round.
The video below covers preparing and closing the gap in stockinette on both knit and purl sides.
When working in the round, you’ll find you have to close one or all of the gaps that were prepared on the purl side by coming back around to them in the round so closing them is a little different. Knit around to 1 st before the gap, slip the next st knitwise, lift the loop onto the right needle and join the st and loop together with an SSK.
You can use 1 piece of scrap yarn for a wedge of short rows, just make sure you don’t pull it out of the other loops when closing the gap! You might find it easier, for that reason, to use separate pieces.
This can be done without anything holding the place of the loop, with practice you’ll find it easy to identify which loop to insert your needle into, especially in bulkier yarns.
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