How To Knit Short Rows

UPDATE: I’ve written a new tutorial on how to knit short rows (based on Alice Yu’s version) — Shadow Wrap Short Rows, which is now my preferred method. If you’re interested in how I used to knit short rows, read this tutorial for step-by-step instructions.

I have picked up knitting techniques all over Europe, England and Ireland and somewhere along the way I learned to do short rows this way.

When I eventually learned about the wrap and turn method, it seemed very laborious to me. However, after having taught knitting for nearly 20 years I have learned that if you can’t yet tell the difference between a stitch and a yarn-over when you come to it, you should stick to the wrap and turn method for awhile. In the long run, I find this method faster.


short rows 1If you are knitting along on the RS and the directions now say w&t for a short row:

short rows 2Don’t wrap and turn, but instead simply turn your work:

short rows 3And do a yarn-over onto the right needle:

short rows 4And now purl back:

Can you see that the third st in on the rt needle is not a st, but a yo?

short rows 5Okay, now here’s how it looks on a WS purl row. Here’s where you are supposed to w&t:

short rows 6Instead, turn your work and do a yo onto the rt needle:

short rows 7And now knit back:

Again, do you see that the 4th st on the rt needle is just the loop of a yo?

Be careful not to count the yo’s as stitches. If in doubt about whether a “stitch” is really a stitch or a yo, look carefully at the RS of your work:

short rows 8

If it is a stitch, you will be able to follow the v’s down the rows below it. But if it’s a yo, it will be coming out the side of a stitch without a row of v’s below it. If you study the picture above, do you see that the 4th st on the rt needle is really a yo? Another clue will be the big gap…when you come to one, you know that on one side or the other of that gap is a yo which will be used to close that gap. See it just to the right of the yo?

When you come back to those yo’s, you are going to work them together with the st next to them to close the gap you created by turning your work in the middle of a row, same idea as a wrap and turn, but easier to execute. Here’s how you do it:

short rows 9If on the RS you are knitting along and you come across this:

A yo, followed by the gap you need to close, followed by a knit st, you will perform a knit 2 together, knitting together the yo with the stitch in order to close that gap.

short rows 10If on the WS you come across this:

The yo, followed by the gap to be closed, followed by a purl st, you will perform a ssp. [slip two sts separately as if to knit, slide those two sts back onto the left needle and purl them together through the back loops]

short rows 11If on the RS you come across this:

A knit stitch, followed by the gap, followed by the yarn over, you will perform a ssk. [slip two sts separately as if to knit, put your left needle into their fronts and knit them together]

short rows 12If on the WS you come across this:

The purl stitch, followed by the gap, followed by the yarn over, you will p2tog.

short rows 13And if you do this, here is what your short rows will look like:

Completely invisible shaping!



  1. Kathleen Eckhart

    This is wonderful. I tried it and I really liked it. Would this also work for garter stitch? I have a crescent-shaped garter stitch shawl in my gueue with a R&T intruction near the end of every row. Despite your very clear instructions, I couldn’t seem to make it work. I must be missing something. I assume I should still assign one side as the right side row and proceed accordingly, keeping in mind the sequence of gaps and yo’s, but I am still having trouble. I’d appreciate a little guidance regarding this. Thanks very much!

    • Florence

      I have been struggling try to do a W&T on a fishermans rib sweater. When I turn the yarn is always on the wrong side to wrap. I am going to try this new way, hopefully it will work.Please advise. Thank you.

    • Work the SWSR before you turn, then you won’t have that problem.

  2. Linda

    Thank you. So clearly communicated. Perfect.

  3. Marta Sullivan

    What a wonderful knitting idea. I just finished a small shawlette that had lots of short rows to make it curved. The short rows showed on the lacy fabric. I am dying to try this with this pattern and other things. That is a great comment from Kathleen about using this technique on garter stitch. Thank you.

  4. Marcia Foster

    What a wonderful method. My wrap and turn stutches, especially on the purl side, never looked smooth the way these do.

  5. Tula

    This is brilliant! I have been working on my first try of a Wolly Warm Head hat pattern and not happy with the look of German short row or w&t this on the other hand is the answer to my short row holes.
    Thank you
    Coco Knits

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