A Long Look at Short Rows

A long look at short rows in knitting

This post contains affiliate links. 

A short row, in knitting, is a row that you don’t knit all the way to the end. You stop early, with a certain number of stitches left un-worked. You turn the work around to the other side. Then you knit/purl back.

The lovely shawl in the lead photo? That’s made with short rows.*

If you are working in garter stitch, short rows are dead simple. You knit to a certain point, turn around, and knit the other way. There is a gap, from where you turned, but you’ll never see it not in garter stitch. Garter has lots a texture, its thick, and those rows of all knits slot together. All of this works in your favor and (usually) hides the gaps that come from short rows.

short row knitting in garter stitch

But what if you want to work in stockinette? Yeah, then you got problems. Those gaps are right out there making big eye sores in your knitting.

short row knitting without wraps

No amount of tugging, fiddling, or fighting with the stitches will make those gaps close. Unless you do something special before you turn around and knit/purl back, you’re going to be living with those gaps. And after you do a special thing then you have to do another special thing to address the first gap-hiding thing that you did when you finally get back to knitting full-length rows.

Its a bit of a pain. Making short rows, short rows that you like the look of, can be a challenge. Experienced knitters are known to frown disapprovingly at their short rows.  Not-so-experienced knitters are known to shy away from short rows completely.  But they can be done, and done well. Mastering short rows is a handy skill. Imagine being able to add a few rows/inches across the bust of any sweater pattern or being able to turn a great short-row heel in a sock.

What’s needed is a demonstration. Short row techniques are tough to explain in written words. Like so many stitch techniques, its far easier to learn from a demonstration. So what we need is a video tutorial for short rows, right? Right.

I’m not doing one. Why? Because Carol Feller has already made a great short row tutorial. Its a mini-class on Craftsy. Her tutorial demonstrates four different ways to make short rows,

… and then she shows you how to use that to make an infant sized sweater (which you can apply to adult size sweaters)

… and then she explains how you can modify any sweater pattern to give you more room in the bust line

… and its all free. 

I really like Carol’s short row tutorial. I’ve sat through all parts of it at least twice. The truth is if I ever did make a video tutorial for short rows it would probably come out a lot like hers and that would just be a waste of everyone’s’ time. So instead I recommend Carol’s. I’ve recommended it here on this blog before and I mention single every time I spot a knitter frowning disapprovingly at their short rows. (I’m predictable and I repeat myself and my friends/family probably get tired of me, lol.)

I suspect not many of the people I recommend this class to actually give it a try. Taking a class on Craftsy is a bigger commitment than hitting play on a youtube video. But… you get more, lots more. Its worth the extra effort to get a Craftsy account and get the class.

There are plenty of free mini-classes at Craftsy…

(like Amazing Crochet Textures: Ribbing, Cables & Beads with Drew Emborsky)

(or Know Your Wool with Deborah Robson)

(or the entire list of all Craftsy free classes including paper crafts and drawing and baking and so much more that it will make your head spin)

… and they all vary of course, but Carol’s short row class includes over two hours of video instruction and comes with a 10 page handout.

Short Rows 101 – FREE from Craftsy

Craftsy offers free classes with handouts and stuff because they hope you will stick around and order some of their pay-for classes. Of course they do. Its all part of their master plan I’m sure. But

a) you don’t have to buy anything. No commitments.

b) I think you should try a free class, and see if you like the format, before you buy one anyway. Then you’ll have a pretty good idea of what you are getting.

Here is how Craftsy classes work:

1) You need a Craftsy account, which is to say, you need an email address and a password you can remember.

2) Go to the class page and click Add To Cart. On the next screen, click Enroll Now.

3) Now you can poke around, read the FAQ, check out the questions that other knitters have left in the chat, etc. You can also download the handouts.

short row knitting hand outs

4) Next is the lessons; you don’t download them. They are streamed from Craftsy in HD. And since almost no one can sit down and watch them in all one session, Craftsy remembers where you paused and starts you right there the next time. Also, because they are streamed, you can access them from any device, computer or mobile. The class is linked to your account, not your device.

5) There is a super-handy 30 second repeat feature. Its a touchable/clickable button on screen, or just type R. That will back you up 30 seconds and replay.

6) You can take notes and as you watch. Under the screen that plays the lesson is a box. Type in your notes, questions, etc. Or just bookmark a spot that you want to come back to.

note taking feature in Craftsy classes

Did I talk you into taking the class? I talked myself into it. And don’t try to say that I’ve already sat through this class because:

a) I can take it again and again. That’s one of the nice things about Craftsy classes. They are yours forever.

b) I’m sure I’ll hear something this time that I didn’t hear the last time.

c) Any time your class materials are yarn and needles and a pot of tea (optional) you’re in for a nice time

knitting and a pot of tea

d) I like taking classes. Always have.

e) The Feline Overlord will enjoy it. Well, she’ll enjoy shedding all over my swatches. She usually does but she get extra pleasure this time because I’m making them in cream-colored wool and her fur shows up really well on that color.

Cats and knitting swatches


So I’ll be listening to my Craftsy class and practicing Carol’s four ways to do short rows. I’m hoping you’ll try it too. It will be a Class-A-Long. Is that a thing?

* Oh right. That gorgeous shawl in the lead picture. Its called Penrose Tile and its a design by Carol Feller, the lady who teaches the class. The shawl makes use of “short rows and lace to create dynamic color patterns across your work. The modular construction of this shawl makes it perfect for increasing or decreasing the size based on your yardage amount.” The pattern was published in the Autumn 2013 of PLY magazine, and you can buy a copy from ravelry.



Print Friendly

Related Content


"There is no failure. Only feedback." - Robert Allen

14 Comments on "A Long Look at Short Rows"

Notify of
Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted

I swear, you read my mind ! I was wondering about the right way to do short rows, so I am very happy to know that there is a free class available on Craftsy. I certainly did not expect that ANY free class would be so long and include downloadable pages too. Great information, as always. Thanks Jenn !

I agree with Jpod, you must be into mind reading or have great intuition. I was browsing knit patterns with stitches/techniques to expand my knitting education and I pased over several with short rows. I decided on your Fasinator and Chromatism. Chromatism is now well into the lace pattern and I’m loving it. I will sign up for the Short Row class. Looks like a handy technique to master. Thank you so much for your patterns, tutorials and tips like this class. With all of your help I may become a knitter after all! Btw i have a boy cat,… Read more »

There are some amazing classes to be found on Craftsy – thanks for pointing out a really good one! 🙂

Rae Bardon

I’m still tackling this peacock father blanket by bernat is I would totally consider it! it’s definitely coming along though 🙂

Shirley Eagle

Thanks for all the info about Craftsy. I’ve had an account for awhile but never knew how to do anything except let the videos play however they wanted to. And you can take notes??? Don’t know about that.