Knit Like a Boss: Short Rows

Ah, short rows. They can take a little getting used to, but if you have a decent-sized pair of knockers and ever want to make a sweater that fits, you must make your relationship work.

Also known as bust darts. (Photo by Connie Hester)

These magical little fit-makers are fairly simple to explain, fortunately. The basic concept is that you work a row across, but you stop before the end, turn around, and head back. If you do this a few times you’ll get an extra little shaped section. They’re great for the booby-portion of clothing, but are also useful with hats and, really, anything round.

The tricky part of this is what you do with the last stitch when you turn your work. There’s this little maneuver called a wrap and twist to make the rows seamless, so you don’t end up with a bunch of weird little holes in your work. Knitty has a good explanation with pictures, and you can check out a video here:

Get it? Got it? Good. Let’s practice.

If you don’t want to commit to a sweater just yet, try and make the Calorimetry headband. It takes less than a skein of yarn, and if you don’t want to buy a button, you can skip that part and simply sew it together to make a pullover headband. I made one awhile ago, which for some reason turned out huge (I think I used the wrong size needles). Ch-check it out:

Not my best look, but great short row training.

That’s it! Short rows are really easy once you get the hang of them, and they come in seriously handy if you need to shape your work. Good luck!

If you have any knitting-related questions or problems, please leave a comment. I can probably answer it right here, or maybe I’ll even dedicate a column to it in the future.

By [E] Liza

PhD student. Knitter. Brooklynite. Long-distance dog mom. Reluctant cat lady. Majestic unicorn whose hair changes color with the wind.

6 replies on “Knit Like a Boss: Short Rows”

I love the short row heel. Basically I do the same as these toe directions. However, I do all the short rows in garter stitch — this eliminates the need to pick up the wraps when you come back to them, a step which I found to be a huge hassle.

I just made a pair of socks using those directions for the toe and the heel. I actually don’t like it as much for the toe, but I think it’s brilliant for the heel. The Knitty article that Liza linked to above was a great resource when I was trying to understand short rows.

Grab some yarn and whip up a bunch of heels — or toes — until it makes sense. That’s how I finally did it.


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