Monday, April 23, 2007

Yarn Over Short Rows

A lot of people have been asking me about short rows lately, so I thought I'd post how I do them. This post will be picture intensive, but I wanted it to be really clear.

Short rows are a way of shaping a knitted garment by working only part of a row, turning around in the middle and working back. It can be used to turn the heel of a sock, to add length in the back of the neck of a sweater knit in the round, to create darts in the bustline, or in the case of diaper soakers, to make more room in the back than in the front to allow for all that diaper room. More information about the uses of short rows can be found here.

In almost every case, the issue with short rows is the hole. If you just turn around in the middle of knitting and add 2 extra rows (back and forward again) then when you come to the place you turned you end up with a nice big ugly hole. Several methods have been invented to deal with this hole.

The most common way of dealing with it is by wrapping. You knit to the place you want to turn around, slip a stitch to the right needle, pull the yarn forward and slip the stitch back to the left needle, thereby wrapping the working yarn around the first unworked stitch. Then when you come back around to knit it, you knit that wrap together with the stitch, which will pull together the hole. There is a video of doing this method here (scroll about half way down). Nona also had a series of posts about several different short row techniques (scroll most of the way down).

The problem with wrapping is that it can leave a bump, or a hole anyway, especially if you pull the wrap too tight. It just seems to be a fiddly way to do it and it causes a lot of people problems, especially with the second (right hand) wrap when knitting in the round.

My personal preference is the yarn over technique. It's very similar to Japanese short rows, but I just don't like to bother fiddling with pins. For those familiar with it, it's also basically what the wooly wonder forums calls the unwrapped technique. But again, I don't like fiddling with wrapping and then unwrapping the stitch, when wrapping around the needle (yarn over) produces the same result with less effort.

So here's how I do it. You can click on the pictures to enlarge them if you wish.

Knit to the turning point

Turn knitting around

Wrap the yarn around the right needle

Purl your way back to the next turning point

Turn knitting around to the right side and wrap the yarn around the right needle again

Continue knitting as normal until you come to the first yarn over

Knit 2 together (the yarn over with the first unworked stitch on the other side of the gap).

The yarn over should fall behind the other stitch and close the gap.

Knit around until you come to the stitch before the second gap.
(This is the right hand side of the short row).

Slip the next stitch knitwise... slip the yarn over knitwise...

and the insert the left needle into both stitches and knit them together (this is an SSK).
This will close the gap and place the yarn over behind the stitch.

Voila! You've worked a short row!

You can see where they are because of the change in the stripe pattern, but they are virtually invisible in the finished work unless you examine the stitch definition very closely.

I hope that helps some of you figure out short rows!


  1. This is great! THanks so much, Andrea

  2. Awsome!! I think this will finally make my short rows perfect. I didn't have to fidgit with them at all! THANK YOU!!!

  3. Oh Mandie, you are my hero... :)


  4. Excellent!!! So easy to follow and invisible :)
    Thank you!

  5. OMGoodness! Thank you so much! I have been struggling like crazy with short rows and now, after following your pattern I find them so simple!

  6. Thanks so much for this. Its good to see this done in the round with soakers, but I'm still stuck. everyone just shows one short row, what if you want to do 4 or 5 at one time before knitting all the way back around, I can't find how to properly do that

  7. Thank you! thank you! thank you! I think the yarn-over pictures made the biggest difference for me! You're awesome!

  8. Thanks!! Thanks!! Thanks!!
    I was getting crazy with the holes in my shorts rows.
    Now they are perfect.

  9. It can't be this simple!! I've been struggling with short rows for weeks and your method is perfect - no holes, no funny stitches on one side, it's FABULOUS!!! Thank you so much!!!

  10. ok I've tried this method and I can see its less steps but I am an english knitter and I can't figure out the yarn placement "wrap your yarn around the right needle" picture..can you explain this or show this a bit better for us englishmen??? ;)

  11. THANK YOU! I have tried many different methods for short rows with mixed success. Even the ones I could get to work ok I couldn't remember without having an instruction sheet right in front of me, and half the time I did it wrong anyway. This method is so fabulously simple- AND IT WORKS! I actually look forward to short rows now, and they look great! And I have committed it to memory after a few good looks at your great pictures. THANK YOU! I am sorry for all the exclamation points- but it is a really big deal for me, lol.


  12. Thank you so much! This is the first short row that has worked for me. I have tried 3-4 other ways and could always get one side to work and a gap in the other, this one is perfect and so easy to follow! Thank you so much for posting this!

  13. This was soooo helpful except for the fact I ended up with 85 sts when I had 88???? How in the world did that happen? :(

  14. i'm getting the funny stitches on one side... :(

  15. Thank you!!! I was so happy with learning this technique at Knitting Camp, and then could not decipher my notes when I got home. The pictures did the trick.

    (Doing a Happy Dance and Blowing Kisses!)

  16. Thank you for this tutorial, but I'm still getting holes on the round after the short rows. Can you help?

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  19. WOW after spending hours on line I found exactly what I needed here and it was so easy I'm ashamed that I didn't think of it myself. Thank you so much