For some knitters short rows seems to be a dirty word. Why is that? They are so useful, so ingenious, and it’s so much fun to watch the shapes unfold. Depending on what method you use they can be fiddly, but I never thought they were hard to understand. Well.. I never thought that until I wrote my first pattern using short rows and then I began to think I may have discovered the reason for all the hate.
In concept short rows are simple: turn around before you reach the end of the row and when you are ready to knit the whole row again you’ll need to close the gap.
The tricky part is in the details and mostly in explaining the details. I can show someone how its done in a minute but trying to communicate the technique with words has left me pulling my hair out and some of you with questions.
I’m going to make an attempt to explain with pictures the method I use in Shawl That Jazz.
Let’s start from the beginning. This chart shows the first half of the process. I’m only showing you one side of the chart so I can make it big enough to read. Imagine that the other half looks the same. I’m also trying to walk the fine line between providing some useful information and giving away my pattern and ideas for free. I’ll do my best.
In our example we are turning around one stitch sooner every row. This concept seems to be hard to grasp in words so I’m hoping the chart will help. Imagine your left needle running through all the V’s. Each time you get to a V you stop, turn around, start again by slipping the first sts (adding another V on the left needle), and then keep on knitting or purling to the next V on the other side. Repeat as needed.
Alright you’ve made all the short rows your pattern calls for. Now what?
If you knit something like the example you should have a fabric that looks like this (Look Ma, my first graphic!).
The blue sts are on your left needle and have been slipped. The pink sts is on your right needle and was the last sts you knit.
If you just knit straight across all the stitches on your needle you’ll end up with holes. Most times you don’t want holes so we need to close up the gaps. For Shawl That Jazz here’s how I do it.
Pick up the left leg (the one closest to the blue) of the white stitch and knit through it so it’s twisted. Pick up the bar (that’s the green thing) and knit through it so it’s twisted. Knit the blue stitch. Repeat.
Whew! I really hope that helps clear up any confusion.