Ask Patty: Short Row Mail Bag

December 20, 2019

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24 Comments
  • You make things clearer than anyone, and your pictures are also clearer than anyone else’s. Thank you, Patty, and thanks to Kay and Ann for introducing you to me. I have hated short rows forever because of how mine look (everywhere except on socks; my socks are fine). Maybe I can learn to make pretty short rows everywhere.

    • Me too! (except I don’t do socks) Now I feel like I could face up to something with short rows with a bit more gumption!

      Also appreciate the Truly Clear photos.

  • Since your topic is short rows, I’d like to ask about holes in my short row heels. Using the MDK socks book, I made my first toe up, short row heel socks. I have two perfect toes and two heels, each with a row of holes. I ripped out the heels a few times before I watched a You Tube video that suggested using a clicker to keep count and finally got through them. I was so disappointed after washing them to see the holes. Next socks I tried German short rows with same results. Next pair will be gusset heels. However, I did enjoy knitting German short rows more than the wrap and turns.

  • Thank you! Your explanations are always so helpful . . . and fun!!!!

  • Could you please do a video? Does your first example add a twist?

    • Do you meant the first example in the first letter? If you hide it as I show it won’t twist the stitch, just like an SSK is not twisted. I do have some short row videos on my YouTube channel – http://bit.ly/PattyLyonsYouTube

  • I discovered German Short rows and use them exclusively.

  • This makes me desperately want a recipe for a short row sampler I can knit up with some good rope-y yarn. I’ve made them just according to directions in patterns (mostly the Amelia Earhart hat and a Stephen West shawl). This makes me want to have all the scenarios spelled out so I can check out all the short row anatomies.

    • Patty,

      As always, thank you for your clarity.

      Re: uses for short rows. I’ve heard of them being used to do shoulder decreases to avoid ‘steps’. Is this a good use (I wonder about any added curvature to the fabric) and what general principles one should follow if this IS a good use ( I.e. how many stitches from edge over how many rows, etc.)?

      • Short rows to replace existing shoulder bindoffs in a pattern will not add any curvature to the fabric. Short rows create a wedge of fabric (think triangle) when some stitches are worked for more rows then others. This can be added at the edge of a fabric, like a shirt tail hem, shoulder shaping, shawl collar. A bulge is created when short rows are created in the middle of the fabric. How much bulge depend on how densely they are stacked in relationship to the surrounding fabric. That’s why we swatch!

  • It’s all Greek to me:((

    • We often assume something is so complex until we pick up our knitting and try it. Did you read this column? https://www.masondixonknitting.com/ask-patty-the-long-and-the-short-of-it/

      I’ve used short rows in many of my video sweater classes and brand new knitters have no trouble with them. It’s when we convince ourselves that something is so mysterious and hard that it becomes hard.

      Put 10 stitches on a needle, now knit across 8 of them and turn around and purl back. That is working a row “short”. But it will leave a gap since those 2 stitches are not connected to the other 8. That’s why we work some method to connect the stitches.

      In life and in knitting, it’s important to not convince ourselves we “can’t” that it’s too hard. Pick up your needles and give it a try and you’ll find it’s one of the easier things to do in knitting.

      • Patty, I appreciate this explanation a lot, the one in the comments — I’m less excited about the whole column because I hate short rows with a burning passion. But I get what you’re saying about “I can’t” and will try not to gasp when I see short rows in a pattern.

        • Think about why you hate them. Is it because you think they are hard or you don’t like what they can do? You will eliminate a HUGE category of fabric shaping if you convince yourself you hate them. Try them. Really try, not following words on a page, but understanding them. They are dead simple, but sooo effective. I’ve used wrap and turns, german short rows and shadow wraps in my video sweater classes and every knitter who thinks they can’t do short rows or hated short rows said they love them once they understood them.

  • I think your Universal Truth of Knitting helps explain why my leftie-knitting daughter keeps twisting her stitches too! We’ll have to go check that out.

  • I have been wondering that very question myself as I’ve been working short-rows on my latest project! Thanks for the thorough answer.

  • Oh my goodness! I had no idea it was so complicated. You make it so understandable. Thank you

  • This is the best explanation (with photos) I have seen regarding short rows. Thank you Patty! I have learned so much from your columns, and I’ve been knitting for decades. You can train an old dog new tricks.

  • I just finished a cardigan sweater and it is the worst looking thing I have ever made. The one good thing is that I now know where I need to learn more and practice. Like a lot of knitters,I learned to knit when a friend showed me how to do a knit and purl stitch and that was it. Since then, what I have learned is bits and pieces from one place and another. After my sweater disaster, I decided I needed to take a beginner class and work up from there. I have taken many classes from Craftsy and some have been good and some not worth the time. I think the world would be in enormous gratitude if you would start a beginner class and take us up to advanced. Like you have stated before, if you can understand something, you can do it. There is just not enough explaining in many classes and you do a great job there. Please consider the beginner to advanced class.

    • This might not be what you had in mind, but Patty teaches all over the place (including all over the place online!): https://pattylyons.com/classes/

    • Thanks so much. I do teach several classes that explain the why. You can find all my video classes on my website.

  • I’m a combination knitter, and I love that you address that in your columns! (I discovered it when a knitting friend pointed out to me that my stockinette was entirely twisted stitches, and explained what I was doing and how to fix it. I now knit through the back loop to untwist, but when I look at the sweater in question, I always feel that the twisted stitches in combination with a beautiful gradient colorway are a really elegant design feature. I have the same philosophy in knitting as I did with my flute playing as a teenager, preparing for a big recital: it’s only a mistake if you show it on your face. Otherwise, it’s ornamentation!)

  • Wow!!! Patty you are the best.

  • I love your articles, Patty! They are so interesting, well-written, and delightfully clear. Hands down, the best knitting articles I’ve ever read (and I’m a knitting nerd who’s read quite a few). Thanks for helping me to learn more about how and why things work so I can become a better knitter.