Knitting 101: The Complete Guide to Knitting Short Rows

Knitting Short Rows #30DTBK

Welcome to 30 Days to Better Knitting, a knitter’s master class helping you getting better at knitting and learn new knitting techniques and tricks in 30 days!

30 Days to Better Knitting: Table of Contents


Short rows are a wonderful technique that no knitter should be without. Many knitters think they might have a major learning disability with short rows. Ever tried them in the past and just couldn’t wrap your mind around them? Well, let’s demystify short rows then!

What Are Short Rows?

Short rows create curves or soft angles in the mostly straight-edged, flat-paneled knitting landscape. They accomplish this by partially knitting an existing row to a predetermined stitch count, then turning the work and working back to the same (or another) count, and turning again.

So 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, make one special short rows stitch (often called a “wrap and turn”, but there are other techniques, too – more on that later), and then work back the other way, sometimes to the end – and sometimes just to another wrap and turn.

So by using short rows, you are adding shaped rows within the body of the garment without increasing stitches, or casting on more of them.

Short rows are a very handy technique when it comes to knitting sock heels, help to achieve certain shawl shapes (especially Crescent shawls) and adjusting the fit of knitted garments.

A little shaping created right into your garment might just be the difference between gaping armholes, an unintended feature of your belly button, or having to make a size larger that fits your chest (but sags on your hips and shoulders, because the garment is just too big).

Short rows are an easy, sophisticated, and non-obtrusive knitting technique.

Short Row Techniques

Wrap and Turn

The wrap and turn method is the most common technique to work short rows out there – except for Germany and Austria, we have our own version but more on that later – and is quite easy to knit. It has one drawback though: the wraps are clearly visible in your knitting. That’s the main reason why I don’t use this method when working short rows.

If you need a tutorial on how to work short rows using the wrap and turn method, Purl Soho has an excellent article about working short rows with wrap and turn.

Japanese Short Rows

Japanese short rows don’t have the disadvantage of visible wraps but they need additional tools: safety pins, or locking stitch markers, alternatively.

There’s a nice tutorial on how to work Japanese short rows on Craftsy, if you want to learn how to work Japanese short rows.

German Short Rows

Asa Tricosa published a lovely tutorial about German short rows.

German short rows are my favorite way of working short rows. It is simple to execute, and is nearly imperceptible in your fabric. When using this method, you don’t need to wrap your stitches, nor do you need to hang markers off your yarn at each turn.

German short rows

That’s how German short rows look in progress: each little double loop on the needles is actually one double stitch.

The Double Stitch in German Short Rows

The German method for working short rows uses a special stitch referred to as “double stitch”. To make a double stitch, insert needle as if to purl with yarn in front. Slip stitch off the needle, pull working yarn to back so the slipped st falls to the back and the stitch in the row below is pulled up over the right hand needle.

I’ve written a little tutorial on how to work German short row sock heels, in case you need one.

Short Rows: The Extra Mile

So far, you’ve read nothing new – I guess there’s a ton of blog posts compiling information and links to these three short row methods. What I want to share with you today is the nuts and bolts of short row shaping:

How To Determine Short Row Shapes Before Knitting a Single Stitch

The extra mile in this article about short rows is that I’m actually telling you which shape your short row section is going to have before you even start knitting.

I told you that short rows are worked by partially knitting an existing row to a predetermined stitch count, then turning the work and working back to the same (or another) count, and turning again. The result looks similar to the illustration below.

short row shaping
How does working short rows look like? The black arrow indicates knitting direction, the green dots represent your live stitches.

You are creating a triangle, basically! The only difference between knitting a triangle using deceases on both sides is that your stitch count doesn’t change.

So when it comes to determine the resulting shape of a short row section, the same principles as outlined in my article about increases in triangle shawls apply: if you know your gauge, you can calculate the resulting shape.

An example:

If your gauge is 4 stitches to an inch in both rows and stitches, working each stitch on each side as a double stitch (or wrap and turn), the resulting angle would be approximately 45°.

Now go and give short rows a try! Let me know by leaving a comment below if this article was helpful for you.

Julia Riede Signature



<< Knitting Lace (III): Read Your Knitting | Color (I): Even Tension in Fair Isle Knitting >>

Friday Freebies: Persia Goes Green Free Shawl Knitting Pattern


Friday Freebies? That’s All?

Hello everybody! I hope your week was as exciting as mine and I would like to make an announcement: this is going to be the last Friday Freebie for a while.

This doesn’t mean there will be no more free stuff on this website – of course there will! I just have to admit that I’m getting bored with doing the very same thing every week and would like to take this website to the next level.

Having published free knitting patterns every Friday for almost a year, things are getting boring. Most of my knitting patterns have been available as Friday Freebies already. Do you really want to see the same free stuff over and over again?

Honestly: I don’t.

Don’t be too sad. Next week, a different type of Friday Freebies is going to take off here at I’ll let you know soon. To tease you a little bit: it’s going to be of much more value than just one single free knitting pattern each week.

So watch this blog – and your inbox, if you’re already on my mailing list! and keep an eye out for it. It will be worth it, promise!

But now… on to this week’s Friday Freebie!

Today’s free knitting pattern is Persia Goes Green, a knitting pattern for a stole worked center out.


You can download the free shawl knitting pattern in the shop for the next 24 hours.


Feel free to drop me a note if you knit your own version of this lovely shawl, I’d love to see yours. Enjoy your free shawl knitting pattern!

Happy knitting! Feel free to share & spread the word :)

Julia Riede Signature

Today? Video. What Are You Up To?

Right now, I’m editing the videos for the Q&A section of part one of the Shawl Design Bootcamp. I have to confess my latest video editing assignment has been back in 1999. Yes, you read right: nineteen ninety-nine.


Taking this into account, I’m doing pretty well with video editing. Some skills just seem to persist, and Adobe seemed not to have changed much in the last 15 years when it comes to usability. Still pretty good!

Needless to mention it’s a lot of work, though. But I’m enjoying every moment and learning lots.

I’m considering adding video content to my tutorials on this site. What do you think? More video or not? Let me know!


30 Days To Better Knitting, Day 10: Knitting Lace (II): Reading Charts

30 Days to Better Knitting, Day 10: Lace Knitting (II) #30DTBK

Welcome to 30 Days to Better Knitting, a knitter’s master class helping you getting better at knitting and learn new knitting techniques and tricks in 30 days!

30 Days to Better Knitting: Table of Contents

Once you’ve been bitten by the lace knitting bug, there’s no way back. Knitted lace shawls are among the most challenging and satisfying knitting projects.

Unfortunately, most lace patterns come with charts. Many people seem to be rather intimidated when it comes to reading charts. Here’s the good news: don’t be afraid of reading charts – it’s easier as it seems.


Knitting Charts and How to Read Them

An example of a knitting chart is shown below (it’s a border chart, also from the Marlene knitting pattern). So what do we see here? Let’s take a closer look.

Knitting from charts: reading charts is not rocket science. You can learn it, too!

  • The chart contains a rectangular grid of eight columns and six rows.
  • The first and last column are colored in light gray not white or colored as the rest.
  • Above the sixth row, outside of the grid, there are numbers too.
  • There are numbers on both the right and the left side in the gray part of the grid.
  • There’s only one knitting symbol per grid.

The white part of the rectangular grid (rows 1-6 and columns showing numbers above them) is the real chart. Within the chart, one square represents one stitch in your knitting.

The light gray parts (the edges with the numbers) contain row and column numbers. On the right side, all odd numbered rows (right side rows) are labeled, on the left side, all even numbered rows (wrong side rows) are labeled.

Charts are read line by line, starting at the lowermost right corner (row 1, column 1) and continuing in the same way you knit and your working thread is located. For each little square, lookup the symbol in the legend to find out which stitch has to be worked.

We start  – with 4 stitches on the needle – at row 1, column 1. The square at this position is white only. Looking up the white square in the legend unveils that it represents a knit stitch – we knit one stitch.

The next stitch is row 1, column 2 which is white too. So we knit the second stitch, too.

Row 1, column 2 shows a different symbol: a circle with a 3 inside of it. Looking it up tells us to yarn over three times. So we work three yarn overs.

The next two stitches are white squares again, so we knit another two stitches. And that’s it, we ran out of stitches!

The next two squares are dark gray, looking it up in the legend shows that this is “no stitch” – these squares are there just to fill up the rectangular grid. These “no stitch” squares occur only in charts where the stitch count is not constant over all rows.

The first line of the chart translates to the written instructions k2, YO three times, k2.

Our working yarn is now at the very left end of the right side (the first row is always a right side row unless otherwise stated). We continue to read and knit our chart: the next stitch is row 2, column 7. Why? Simply because this is the position of our working yarn and we are working flat.

Working Flat Or in the Round?

As the numbers in the light gray area alternate on the right and left sides of the rows, this chart is worked flat. If all row numbers would show on the right side only, each row would be started and read from right to left – the chart would be worked in the round (otherwise it wouldn’t work out with the position of your working yarn).

If there are no clear row numbers (or none at all) in the charts of a specific pattern, refer to the pattern instructions whether the project is worked flat or in the round.

How to Read Chart Symbols on Wrong Side Rows?

Chart symbols are all charted viewing the knitting from the right side. Continuing with column 7, row 2 we slip the first stitch (look up the “V” in the legend). The next two squares show dots – purl stitches. So as we are now facing and knitting the wrong side of our knitting, how is this stitch worked?

We are facing the wrong side of the knitting but charts show all symbols from the right side of your work. Some legends take this into account by stating “knit on RS, purl on WS” for the little white “knit” square and “purl on RS, knit on WS” for the square with the dot in it. (Maybe I should, too. For me it’s so obvious but I’m no measure.)

Row two translates to the following written instructions: sl1, k2, p1, k3.

Work is then continued on row three (reading from right to left), row four (reading from left to right) and so on.

Taking Away the Fear of Reading Charts

Reading charts is not rocket science. Cast on four stitches and try to work the small chart shown above. Did it work out for you? Let me know if this article has been of helpful for your skills in knitting from charts!

Yours truly,

Julia Riede Signature



30 Days to Better Knitting: Table of Contents

<< Day 9: Knitting Lace (I): Increases and Decreases | Day 11: Knitting Lace (III): Which Row am I? Reading Your Knitting >>