How to Knit Short Rows

Butterfly Shawl If you keep up with knitting patterns, chances are you have noticed a resurgence of short rows. What is basically a knit wedge, short rows can be used to create shaping in specific parts of your knitting.

If you keep up with knitting patterns, chances are you have noticed a resurgence of short rows. What is basically a knit wedge, short rows can be used to create shaping in specific parts of your knitting. This can be useful in simple applications like adding ear flaps to a hat, or more advanced applications, like the Butterfly Shawl we featured this week. Short rows are also commonly used in garment knitting, for everything from bust darts to shoulder shaping to creating a curved hem.

Butterfly Shawl

There are many types of short rows and it is worth exploring a few to discover your favorite. The traditional technique is simply called “wrap and turn” and we will explain how to do that here. Other methods worth exploring are German Short Rows, a method you’ll frequently find in Shellie Anderson’s Shibui patterns, Japanese Short Rows and Shadow Wrap Short Rows which are the go-to method for Julie Weisenberger of Cocoknits.

In its simplest form, short rows means you stop before the end of your row and turn the work around and go back. By doing this a few times, you are creating a section of knitting in the middle of your row that is longer than the rest. When you stop and turn, it can leave a gap in your knitting, and the main difference between short row techniques is how to address that gap.

Below are instructions for how to complete a “wrap and turn” short row:

Knit Side
  • With the yarn in back, slip next stitch purlwise from left needle to right needle.
  • Move the yarn between the needles to front of work, as if you were going to purl.
  • Slip the stitch back to the left needle and move the yarn to the back of the work.
  • Turn your work.
Purl Side
  • With the yarn in front, slip next stitch purlwise from left needle to right needle.
  • Move the yarn between the needles to back of work, as if you were going to knit.
  • Slip the stitch back to the left needle and move the yarn to the front of the work.
  • Turn your work.
Picking up the Wraps
  • Knit Side: Work to just before the wrapped stitch, insert the right needle under the wrap and knitwise into the stitch, knit them together.
  • Purl Side: Work to just before the wrapped stitch, insert the right needle from behind into the back loop of the wrap and place it on the left needle, purl together with stitch.

Here is a video that shows this technique: Knitting Help - Wrap and Turn


Some good patterns for practicing short rows are:
Drea Renee Knits Goldfinch Shawl
Drea Renee Knits Goldfinch Shawl
Melanie Berg Quicksilver Shawl
Melanie Berg Quicksilver Shawl
Brooklyn Tweed Lolo Hat
Brooklyn Tweed Lolo Hat