Throughout this season, we’re reposting some of our favorite columns by Barbara Breiter, author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Knitting & Crocheting, previously featured in our Weekly Stitch newsletter.
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 purling.
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.