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Short rows are one of the most versatile knitting techniques. If you're a beginner knitter, learning how to work short rows will certainly level up your knitting skills.

Short rows may sound complicated at first, but they're actually quite simple. And once you learn them, they'll open up a world of possibilities for creating unique shapes and patterns.

In this article, we’ll delve into the fundamentals of short rows, exploring their uses and methods.

What are short rows?

Short rows are partial rows of knitting that don't span the entire width of the piece. Unlike traditional knitting, where you knit across the entire row and turn your piece, short rows involve turning before reaching the end of the row.

They allow you to add more rows to a certain area in your knitting, which creates extra fabric and allows you to shape it in different ways.

hands holding a pink knitting swatch with short rows
© Pris Lopes – Craft Room Ideas

However, simply turning your piece and knitting in the opposite direction can create a hole in the fabric. There are many techniques to avoid these gaps, with different executions but similar end results.

What are short rows used?

Unlike increases and decreases, which affect the width of the fabric, short rows change the fabric’s length, adding more rows in some of the stitch columns.


Short rows allow you to create a more customized fit. They can be used to form darts and shape shoulders, necklines, and hems, achieving a more flattering silhouette.


Socks often require the use of short rows for shaping the heel section to become comfortable and well-fitting.

Textures and patterns

By varying the placement and frequency of short rows, you can achieve patterns like chevrons, wedges, and waves.

How to knit short rows

There are many different methods for working short rows, and they can be done in both flat and circular knitting. These techniques prevent a hole from forming and create a smooth transition between the short-row section and the rest of the knitting.

German Short Rows

Also known as the double stitch method, this is the one I consider the simplest. When you arrive at the turning point, you must slip the stitch and pull the yarn over the needle to create a double stitch. When you come back to the double stitch, you should knit it as a normal single stitch.

I recommend watching Purl Soho’s video on YouTube for a visual explanation of how this technique works.

Wrap and Turn

This is the most traditional short-row method. To work it, you must knit up to the turning point, bring the working yarn forward between the two needles, and slip the next stitch to the right needle. Then, pull the yarn back and slip the stitch back to the left needle. After these steps, you can turn your piece and knit in the other direction.

Pay attention so that you don't twist the stitch when you slip it from one needle to the other. Also, it’s important to remember to pick up the wrap when you come back to that stitch.

Very Pink Knits has a YouTube tutorial in slow motion that'll certainly clear up any doubts.

Japanese Short Rows

If you want to avoid wraps or double stitches, you can work the Japanese technique. When you arrive at the turning point, you must turn the piece and slip the next stitch from the left to the right needle. Then, place a locking stitch marker around the working yarn, hold it snug to the stitch you've just slipped, and work in the other direction.

When you come back to the stitch with the marker, you pull it and put that strand of yarn on the left needle. Then, you just have to knit it together with the next stitch.

It sounds more complex than it really is, so I recommend watching this tutorial on Very Pink Knit's YouTube channel.

As I said before, there are other methods for working short rows. Roxanne Richardson has a video on her YouTube channel where she compares seven different short-row techniques.

I also suggest watching Suzanne Bryan's extensive playlist about short rows on YouTube.


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