Short rows are becoming a hot topic on Ravelry, so here’s a nice, clear tutorial on how to do them.
A “short row” is simply what happens when you work across a row but don’t get to the end.
The pattern instructs you to go almost to the end (maybe one or two stitches before), and then turn around and go back.
This creates a domed shape that is good for heels and other curvy parts of the body.
For those of you who have turned a heel before, whether it be the Fleegle heel for your toe-up sock, or a square (heel flap) heel for your top-down sock, you’ve already done this, on the “turn heel” part of your sock.
However, some socks patterns call for a heel that is made entirely by doing short-rows: there are no increases, no heel flaps, no picking up stitches, nothing!
The short-row heel is even and round-looking, and my favorite part about it that makes it very useful sometimes is that you can easily make the heel in a different color, as in the Delicious Knee Socks by Cosmicpluto Knits!, above.
It is used anywhere the designer wants to create a 3D or curved shape, as in the popular Calorimetry headband, the silly Fish Hat (Dead or Alive?), and the gorgeous and ephemeral Whisper Cardigan (left).
The “Wrap and Turn” Prevents A Gap
The key to correctly doing short-rows is knowing how to do the Wrap and Turn (no, it’s not a new dance move).
It’s a clever way of keeping the stitches close to each other while you are doing short-rows, so that you don’t create gaps when you turn around.
Doing short-rows also incorporates picking up and knitting the wraps once you’re done with the short-rows, so that they become invisible.
I demonstrate both techniques in the video below:
Create A Short-Row Heel In Any Sock With This Formula
The following short-row heel formula, from beloved knitter Amy Swanson, shows how to create a heel in ANY sock, using short rows.
You may want to stretch the sock a little when you put it on your foot to measure, as you will be wearing it snug and not saggy.
If you are doing Magic Loop, your sock stitches will be divided in half.
Leave one half alone for now (the instep) and work the following steps across the stitches on the other half (the heel needle).
Now, a quick calculation: take note of how many stitches are on your heel needle before you begin the short rows (this would probably be around 28 for a medium size sock with fingering-weight yarn).
Multiply this number by 0.4 and round to the nearest whole number (in our example, 11). Let’s call this number A. Now, working back and forth over your heel stitches, begin the heel.
Row 1 [RS]: K to last st, W&T.
Row 2 [WS]: P to last st, W&T.
Row 3 [RS]: K to st before last wrapped st, W&T.
Row 4 [WS]: P to st before last wrapped st, W&T.
Repeat Rows 3 and 4 until (A) sts remain unwrapped between wrapped sts on either side of work. You will be ready to start a RS row.
Note: when wrapping stitches at turning points of short rows which follow, note that stitches will now have two wraps; these stitches will be referred to as double-wrapped stitches.
When working a double-wrapped stitch on a subsequent row, pick up both wraps and work them together with the stitch which had been wrapped.
Row 5 [RS]: K to first wrapped st, k wrapped st, W&T.
Row 6 [WS]: Sl 1, p to first wrapped st, p wrapped st, W&T.
Row 7 [RS]: Sl 1, k to first double-wrapped st, k double-wrapped st, W&T
Row 8 [WS]: Sl 1, p to first double-wrapped st, p double-wrapped st, W&T
Repeat Rows 7 and 8 until one double-wrapped stitch remains at each end of work.
Row 9 [RS]: Sl 1, k to double-wrapped st, k double-wrapped st. Do not turn work.
You should now have the original number of stitches left on your heel needle. Resume working in the round until it is time to do your cuff.
If you liked this tutorial on short row shaping, post in the comments and click the “Like” button!