Whenever a pattern requires working short rows, I almost always use shadow wraps. But recently I started a project that specifically calls for German short rows. I gave this technique a try and discovered that it is an amazingly simple method that forms an almost invisible transition between the rows.
When we plan to use German short rows instead of “wrap and turn”, “shadow wraps” and other short row techniques, we have to understand one very important thing. Here’s what I mean:
The idea behind every method to work short rows is to eliminate a hole in a spot where we turn the work. This is usually achieved by creating an additional wrap or a stitch at the “border stitch” – a stitch that is right next to the place where we turn the work (and where a hole could potentially appear).
In most short row techniques the “border stitch” is the one that is the first after the turning point, but in German short rows, it is a stitch that is the last before the turning point.
To make this concept clear, I marked these stitches in the photo below.
If we were to turn the work to make a short row in the swatch featured in the photo, the turning point would be between the needles, the “border stitch” for most short row techniques would be the first stitch from the tip of the left needle, and the “border stitch” for German short rows would be the first stitch from the tip of the right needle.
Why is this so important? Because it means that if we use German short rows in a pattern that calls for “wrap and turn” or some other short row technique, we should work the number of stitches mentioned in the pattern plus one more stitch.
For example, if a pattern tells you to “knit 5 stitches, then make wrap and turn”, we should knit 6 stitches, turn the work and work German short rows.
Now, that we clarified this important feature of German short rows, let’s see how this technique works step by step.
If you are a visual learner, click here to watch every step in a video tutorial. Or, simply scroll to the bottom of this page to watch the embedded version of the video.
There are only three steps to remember. They are the same for both sides of the work and for any stitch pattern.
Turn the work and bring the yarn to the front of the work.
Slip the first stitch from the tip of the left needle to the left needle. Do it purlwise. That means that we should insert the tip of the right needle into the stitch from right to left.
Pull the working yarn up to bring the bottom of the slipped stitch to the top part of the needle.
When you look at the tip of the right needle, the stitch should cover half of the circumference of the needle and the two strands that are pulled at the bottom of that stitch should cover the over half of the needle circumference. Here’s how it looks in the video tutorial.
This is important to make sure the “border stitch” is not too loose.
Continue to work in the pattern. If the next stitch is a purl, bring the yarn over the needle and to the front of the work. If it is a knit, move the yarn over the needle to the back of the work.
Repeat these steps whenever you need to turn your work mid-row to make another short row.
By pulling the yarn in the third step, we form a double stitch. It is different from the rest of the stitches and it is the stitch that we look for when the pattern tells us to “work to the previous wrap and turn”.
Even though this stitch has more strands than a regular stitch, we treat it as one stitch and work all those strands together when we come across this stitch later on.
To knit a double stitch, bring the working yarn to the back of the work, insert the tip of the right needle from left to right into the double stitch (see photo below), wrap the tip of the right needle with the yarn and pull the wrap through the stitch forming a new regular stitch.
To purl a double stitch, bring the yarn to the front of the work, insert the tip of the right needle from right to left into the double stitch (see photo below), wrap the needle with the yarn and pull the wrap through as we normally do when we purl a stitch.
These instructions are the same for the short rows made in a project worked back and forth and the ones worked in the round.
As you can see from the photo below, German short rows are almost invisible, all stitches are uniform and there are no twisted stitches or holes.
The only case when we should stick to the classic “wrap and turn” or “shadow wrap” techniques is when several consecutive short rows have the same turning point. It sometimes happens when we use short rows to shape a heel of a sock (for example, in Sneaker Socks) and we have to wrap the same “border stitch” twice. When it happens, German short rows technique forms a small but noticeable hole.
In all other cases, it is a great way to create almost invisible short rows in any stitch pattern with just three simple steps.
If you enjoyed this tutorial,
here’s something else you might find helpful:
“Neat Side Edges” Book
Learn twelve ways to make side edges of a knitted project nice and tidy. Plus, ways to fix side edges, and a way to improve edges of finished projects.