Why do I always use short rows? I think it is because before I started designing knitwear I designed, created patterns for, and made, woven garments. I did an advanced search on Ravelry and came up with 9,125 patterns with short rows. I did a search of my patterns on Ravelry, and it says 45 have short rows (which actually seems a little low to me). This is worth talking about.
Short Row Wizardry
Short rows basically act to removed (or add) fabric in a targeted location. In sewing we would use darts, or in the case of a shoulder, an angled seam. This allows a shift in direction so that something fits over a bust or shoulder. In flat pattern making shapes are slashed and the pieces spread to put in fabric to create circles and add fabric. In draped pattern making, fabric is pinned out to create the darts (usually then transferred to a pattern) and added for fullness or drapery. When we knit we can put the shaping in as we go, and we can often do this using short rows. There are more than one way to do short rows. Here I’m just going to look at using the slip-wrap-slip or wrap & turn version, as I do it in shoulder shaping.
Short Row Shoulder Shaping
Shoulders are the most logical place to use short rows in any garment. I do this almost without thinking. I have fairly square shoulders, so I am not looking for the shoulder shaping so much (although it helps anyone), but having that shoulder shaping is like having a dart in your armhole–which takes out some of that fabric that bunches there. That makes a much smoother fit, and a more comfortable garment. This is also a smooth way to get rid of stair-step bind offs at the shoulder, and leaves your shoulder stitches poised to join in a 3-needle bind off. So how do you do short rows?
Working from the neck edge toward the shoulder, work to a point short of the end of the row. Slip the next stitch to the right needle without working it [slip],
bring the yarn to the front or back (opposite side to where it was when working the stitch before. This brings the yarn behind/in front of the slipped stitch [wrap].
Slip the slipped stitch back to the left needle. Now, turn your work [slip]. The slipped stitch is now the first stitch on the right needle. Work the WS version of the row from that point to neck. I abbreviate this s-w-s.
Picking up Short Row Wraps
After performing all the short-row rows, the wraps need to be made invisible. This is easy for some stitches, and a little trickier for others. The key is to pick up the wrap from the right side, regardless of which side you are working from. Picking up the wraps anchors the wrap with the stitch it wraps, while moving it off the front of the fabric. Note: If you can’t see the wrap it doesn’t have to be picked up. The slip stitch needs to be worked as it would be in pattern (knit, purl).
To begin, pick up the wrap with the tip of the right needle and lift it onto the left needle, being sure it is not twisted and that it is being lifted off the right side of the fabric. On some stitches you will have to slip the wrapped stitch to the right needle while picking up the wrap, then return both to the left needle to be worked. Alternatively, you can work the wrap and the stitch without picking up the wrap, but this is a little trickier.
I created a video on Short Rows, which is mostly theory and showing what the finished product looks like.
Almost all of my garment patterns have short row shoulders.
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