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Short Rows

Short Rows tend to strike fear into the hearts of the uninitiated, but, like all knitting, there's really nothing so mysterious about it.

Short Rows are used to create triangles or wedges within your knitting. They shape everything from bust darts to ear flaps. Basically, a Short Row is just that: a row that you don't knit to the end of the needle. Instead, you work part of the way across the row, do something called a "wrap and turn", and then work back the other way, sometimes to the end and sometimes to another wrap and turn.

Wrap and Turn on the Knit Side

Keeping the yarn in back, slip the next stitch purlwise from the left needle to the right needle.

Bring the yarn forward as if to purl.

Slip the stitch from the right needle back to the left needle.

Bring the yarn to the back of the work as if to knit.

Turn the work so the purl side is facing you, ready to purl.

Wrap and Turn on the Purl Side

Keeping the yarn in front, slip the next stitch purlwise from the left needle to the right needle.

Bring the yarn back as if to knit.

Slip the stitch from the right needle back to the left needle.

Bring the yarn to the front of the work as if to purl.

Turn the work so the knit side is facing you, ready to knit. 

Once you've completed your Short Rows, you'll notice gaps in the knitting where you wrapped the stitches. To rectify this, you work across the entire row, closing the gaps by "picking up the wrapped stitches". 

Picking up the Wrapped Stitch on the Knit Side

Pick up the wrap with the right needle from front to back.

Then insert the right needle into the stitch that is wrapped.

Knit the wrap and the stitch together.

Picking up the Wrapped Stitch on the Purl Side 

Pick up the wrap with the right needle from back to front.

Place the wrap onto the left needle. 

Purl together the wrap and the stitch that is wrapped.

That's Short Rows! Not so scary! 

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56 Responses to Short Rows


  1. Cheryl says:

    Thank you so much. I have been trying to knit a skirt for my daughter and it has short rows. I understood the concept of W^T but the only info I could find told me to bring the yarn to the front every time, but I was sure you had to do something different if you were purling.

  2. Jennifer says:

    So helpful! Your tutorial was great–very clear and concise. In the past I had been scared of W & T because I’ve encountered several different methods and didn’t know what to do. I finally felt comfortable with the W&T and didn’t avoid a pattern that incorporated short rows, when I got confused by how to pick up wraps on the purl side. Thanks for the help!

  3. smargot says:

    Thanks this was totally useful. M.

  4. Kmbold says:

    It would be helpful if there was an illustration of how this looks in a project.

  5. Caroline says:

    Thank you for this! I was having a hard time finding an online tutorial on short-rowing while purling. Perfect. Pictures are so helpful. I also adore your header image!

  6. Kathy Young says:

    W & T has been driving me insane (not that I’m not already there). I have been trying to learn via videos and, although they are useful, it is hard to watch the video and do the stitch at the same time.
    This tutorial is excellent. I am able to print it out and really concentrate on each step and I am pleased to say I have conquered this technique.
    Thank you.

  7. Jess says:

    So so glad you had some pics!! The word only directions were not working for me, but it looks like this did!

  8. Lia says:

    Thank you!! These are the first directions (video, photo or written only) that have helped me to get it!

  9. CJ says:

    Thank you! I was struggling with how to pick up the wrap on the purl side row. Your explanation and picture made all the difference. I can finish my dress now. :)

  10. daruth says:

    This was very helpful, The pictures are great! I was scratching my head as to what to do. Like cables to me, looked hard but it really wasn’t. Thanks

  11. Rach says:

    Thank you so much for this! I have done other kinds of short rows, but this pattern (for a friends newborn) called for wrap & turn & I'm not comfortable enough with short rows to substitute. Thank you!

  12. Capless says:

    I've been avoiding patterns that use short rows that require W&T's. But after your tutorial I'm going to give them another try. Thanks for sharing this!

  13. Joanne Tinley says:

    Thank you – exactly what I needed!

  14. Katie says:

    What a beautiful tutorial! Thank you for posting! Excellent pictures which just might get me through my first toe-up socks!

  15. Diane Roth says:

    thank you for this. gives me hope that I will be able to figure this out. I've been working on sloping the shoulders for a sweater and not getting it. This is complicated by the fact that I am left-handed. I'm hoping that by carefully looking at your pictures, I can figure out the mirror image for how I can do it.

  16. SwamPee says:

    I think I can try a pr of socks now. The directions were clear & easy.

  17. denise says:

    I'm not sure if the following is considered a short row but I desperately need some help because I ended up with a mess.
    The pattern says: 5/3 RPC Dec sl 3 to cn, hold to back, ssk, k1, k2tog; turn, p3, turn, k3tog; p3 from cn.
    I fully understand the concept but I think I get messed up with the turning of my work and stitches get in a bunch. Also i wondered what the RPC means. Thanks for any help.

  18. purlbee says:

    Hi Denise,

    No, this doesn't have anything to do with short rows. It actually looks like you have a pretty complicated cable pattern going. The RPC Dec stands for “right purl cable decrease.” The 5/3 refers to the number of stitches you put on your cable needle (3) and the number of stitches you work after that (5).

    So here's what I think you have to do: Slip 3 stitches onto your cable needle and hold the cable needle to the back of the work. Then working the next 5 stitches that are on your left needle, ssk, k1, k2tog. Now turn the whole piece and p3 (the ssk, k1, k2tog stitches), turn again and knit those same 3 stitches together. And finally, purl the 3 stitches off your cable needle.

    If you keep getting your stitches in “a bunch” you may need to remember to always use your right needle to work the stitches from the left needle.

    It's definitely a doozie of a move! But if you just go step by step I think you'll get it and I'm sure it will be beautiful!

    Good luck!
    Whitney

  19. carroe says:

    When I do w+ t, it turns out correct, when picking up wraps, the wrapped stitch is tight to deal with on the k2together ing, is this common. And correct?

  20. purl bee says:

    HI Carroe,

    The wrapped stitch shouldn't be tight, so I do wonder if you're wrapping and turning correctly. Make sure you're following the steps very carefully, and if that doesn't work, I wonder if maybe the rest of your knitting is really tight? In that case, I would say to just ease up on the wrap a little.

    I wish I could walk through the steps with you in person! Good luck with the photos and please let us know if you need more help!

    Whitney

  21. Cotton100 says:

    The best I have found. Explained the whole process , not just bits and pieces. Hooray!

  22. Katepwe says:

    I'm making a cardigan with a shawl collar. How would I do Wrap & Turn in a 1×1 ribbing?

  23. Henrietta Chuong says:

    Hi Erin:

    I am a little confuse. After, I wrap the stich, do I continue to knit until the end of the row or I turn and working back on the purl side of the first 42 knitted stithces?

  24. purl bee says:

    Hi Henrietta-

    For the Bandana Cowl you will turn the work after the wrap and work the purl side. With all short rows the wrap is a wrap and turn, its purpose is to prevent a hole in your knitting when you switch sides on your work mid-row.

    Thanks for the great question!

    Erin

  25. Claud says:

    This is the best wrap & turn tutorial I have seen!
    Thanks so much for the excellent pictures & clear steps.

  26. Barbara says:

    Very clear pics and directions–thanks! However, the pattern I'm working on is in garter stitch. I've read some comments that indicate the w& t method will give the best results, but where does the yarn end up if you aren't going to purl on the reverse side? It needs to be on the back, not the front; does this require another wrap?

  27. kaitlyn says:

    Hi,
    I'm working on the Short Row Sweater – so excited! But, I'm a bit confused still. If starting on the RS, the stitch that you W + T on, do you count that as part of the WS stitches (so, part of the P36)?
    ie) if the pattern reads:
    RS: K171, wrap and turn (< --- does this stitch count as part of P36?)
    WS: P36, wrap and turn

    Thanks for any guidance!

  28. purl bee says:

    Hi Kaltlyn, so happy to hear you are enjoying the Short Row Sweater. the wrap and turn does not count as part of the next row's stitch count. Hope this helps. -Laura

  29. purl bee says:

    Barbara. Hello. Short Rows in garter are super similar to those in stockinette. Here is the best thing to think of when you are about to wrap and turn… where do I want the yarn to end up after I have wrapped and turned?

    If you are knitting, and your yarn is in the back and you'd like to wrap the next stitch… slip the next stitch from the left to the right, bring your yarn to the front, slip that same stitch from the right to the left and then turn your work.

    Hope this helps Barbara. If I get a chance, I will post a garter stitch short row tutorial. -Laura

  30. Keen_wah says:

    Hello! Thank you so much for all of your tutorials, they are amazing!! I do have a question in regards to the bandana cowl. Im having trouble understanding rows 5 – 8… I understand how to do the actual wrap and turn but for example, in row 5 I knit 42 then I do the wrap and turn…row 6 says purl 3 then wrap and turn then it goes to row 7….. Do I only do those few stitches in row 6 or do I continue the 42 stitches? When I knit the wrapped stitch do I continue with the entire row and then come back to the wrapped stitch? My apologies if I am wayyyy confusing. Hope to hear from you soon :)

  31. purl bee says:

    Hi Kareena,
    You just do those few stitches. Then after you wrap, you turn your work and will be facing the other side of the fabric. Do not continue for the entire row.

    The idea of short rows is to work a portion of the stitches, back and forth, back and forth with out working the entire row.
    I hope this helps!
    Keep us posted.
    Laura

  32. vikki says:

    Thanks for such a clear tutorial! Im knitting a gorgeous cabled shawl using short rows and was really worried about holes forming when I come to knit the wrapped stitches, but now I know what to do!

  33. Lisa Ohland says:

    I am kind of new to knitting… I get how to do the wrap and turn, but once I have done it however…”:turn the work so the knit side is facing you, ready to knit…” and then what, knit to the end of the row ?? I am on row 5 of the Bandana Cowl, but I am very confused about what row 6 means… guess I need to find someone who knows how to do this, because it makes no sense to me at all. Any suggestions ?

  34. purl bee says:

    Hi Lisa-

    Short rows can definitely be a bit tricky at first! For the Bandana Cowl pattern after you wrap and turn you won't be knitting to the end of the row, you'll only be working until you come to the previously wrapped stitch (or in the case of row 6, which is a setup row, you're only purling 3 stitched before wrapping and turning the work again). I think about it like I'm building an inverted pyramid, with every row being just a stitch longer than the row before!

    Thanks for the great question! Keep us posted on your progress!
    Erin

  35. Joan says:

    I have mastered short rows but after making 4 bandana cowls I looked again at the photos & find that my decreases start much closer to the first garter stitches, which makes the whole cowl shorter… I don't think I understand the “knit 1″ after the w & t?
    Did not do that? I simply continued across to the previous w & t picked up the wrap & did next w & t & so forth. The shape is shorter & more bowed…. Why is yours longer in the body before the decreases?
    Help… Although I am wearing the ones I've made … I would really like to get this down correctly.
    Thanx, joan

  36. Joan Aikens says:

    After re reading the pattern & checking the photos given, I realize I'm not doing the knit 1 after I pick up the previous wrap & before I w & t again…. Ripped out. & find I have a much wider & longer cowl…. Like yours! Wal-ah finally, after making 4-5 wrong, I did it! Love the pattern & am making gifts for Xmas presents for men & women on my list! Thanks so much!
    Joan from PA

  37. Lynn says:

    I just finished a bandana cowl with short rows and I could not have done it without your directions on short rows. It turned out Perfect!!! I am such a visual person and your directions were perfect! Thank you so much!!!

  38. Ann says:

    I am struggling with the bandana cowl….I will now take my knitting and follow the pictures…..I know short rows, but the wrap part goofed me up…thus I put it away last night….attempt again..! Thanks in advance and hope to get this right…Love the cowl…

  39. Julie says:

    I have a question ! I am making the Aviatrix hat by Justine Turner. This is my second one, and just want to make sure I am picking up my W & T's correctly.
    Your tutorial is great, by the way !!! I know how to pick them up when on a Knit Row or a Purl Row……
    I am working stockinette up until my last row of the “section”.
    Row 10 is purled (last row to make a W & T), Row 11 is knitted to the end and picking up the last 2 W & T's in that direction.
    Row 12 (last row in section) is ALSO Knitted, making a ridge on right side.
    On this last row, can you explain how to pick up those W & T's ?

    This is what I've been doing: I knit across and when I get to the W & T, I lift it as if to pick up a purled W&T and knit it, still having yarn in back. It looks okay from the other side.
    Is this correct ?
    Thank You !!!

  40. purl bee says:

    Hi Julie…
    If you are satisfied with how it looks… then it's ok! The beauty of knitting is that there are several ways to accomplish the same thing. I have actually never worked short rows in garter before, which is essentially what is happening there in that last row. But again, if you like how it looks… go with it!

    Thanks for the kind words about the tutorial!
    Laura

  41. Tim says:

    Holy COW, that's EASY!!!!!

    I've been knitting since July — this is one of the first cowl patterns I found, but I was afraid of the short rows.

    Purchased some really nice merino at my LYS this evening and decided to take the plunge.

    I LIKE it!

  42. Mariana says:

    This is definitely helpful, I'm knitting my first pair of toe-up socks and the toe is looking great. Just out of curiosity though, what are the wraps for??? I understand the short rows now, and what they create, but not what the effect of wraps is…
    Thanks! :)

  43. purl bee says:

    Hi Mariana,

    The wraps are not just there to be difficult, they actually prevent holes in your finished knitting, so keep them up!

    Thanks for asking!

    Whitney

  44. Vickie says:

    Thank you so much for your clear instructions and excellent photos.

    The wrap and turn has been driving me crazy. I've been making a top down sweater and wanted to use short rows along the back. I managed to get the knit side correct however the purl side wasn't so great. I created a big hole and I knew that I was missing something.

    Now I think I will be able to continue and I have bookmarked this wonderful page.

    Thanks again
    Sincerely
    Vickie

  45. Agne says:

    Yuppie!!! Finally my short rows look great! Thank you s much!!!

  46. Andrea says:

    This a wonderful tutorial. I was afraid of short rows before because they seemed so difficult but they couldn't be more simple! Thank you for putting together an easy to follow and comphrensive tutorial!

  47. Jonna W. says:

    Hi! I love these clear instructions! I, too, have a question though. When I finish a knit (RS) row and I grab my wrap front to back, then I grab my wrapped stitch I knit them together without having to put the stitch on the needle and I kinda have to eek the yarn thru the wrap but it works fine and it looks sooooo good. However when I finish a purl row and go to pick up the wrap it seems like putting it on the needle twists it and so that side of my cowl has a different look than the left side, not that there are holes but there are little crossovers of the yarn. I have tried every imaginable way to pick it up, like picking it up backwards of how I do on the knit side, for example, but it still has a little yarn bar going straight across the fabric. Is that just the way it looks? The back of the cowl is kinda bumpy on that edge too unlike the side where the wraps are picked up knit-wise which are very smooth on the backside. Sorry for the long explanation. Wish I could just post a pic :)). Thank you in advance for any words of wisdom!

  48. Jonna W. says:

    Hi! I love these clear instructions! I, too, have a question though. When I finish a knit (RS) row and I grab my wrap front to back, then I grab my wrapped stitch I knit them together without having to put the stitch on the needle and I kinda have to eek the yarn thru the wrap but it works fine and it looks sooooo good. However when I finish a purl row and go to pick up the wrap it seems like putting it on the needle twists it and so that side of my cowl has a different look than the left side, not that there are holes but there are little crossovers of the yarn. I have tried every imaginable way to pick it up, like picking it up backwards of how I do on the knit side, for example, but it still has a little yarn bar going straight across the fabric. Is that just the way it looks? The back of the cowl is kinda bumpy on that edge too unlike the side where the wraps are picked up knit-wise which are very smooth on the backside. Sorry for the long explanation. Wish I could just post a pic :)). Thank you in advance for any words of wisdom!

  49. purl bee says:

    Hi Jonna.
    Do not apologize! It's great to get your feedback.

    Eliminating those dashes is tricky. The method I have posted above is how I find it best to hide them. The purl side is definitely more challenging than the knit side. No arguments there.

    After you place the wrap onto the needle, have you tried purling the two through the back loop? It is a little uncomfortable, but it will force that wrap-stitch to the back of your fabric.

    Let me know how it goes!
    Laura

  50. Nancy Mashburn says:

    I am doing Grace Akhrem's Olana Slouch hat and it requires that I wrap and turn a previous wrap. How do I to this?

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