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The life of a knitting advice columnist: I answer two short row questions, and two more crop up. These two are so similar, I’m going to answer them with one letter.

Short Rows in the Round (or Why You Gotta Be That Way?)

Question 1

 Hello Patty,

Your article on short rows reminded me of a question I had about wrap-and-turn short row. Recently I tried a top-down sweater pattern using wrap-and-turn short rows to shape the shoulder yoke. It was all going fine, until I finished the short rows and went back to knitting in the round, when I found the stitches right before the short rows were loose and elongated.

I figured I just hadn’t paid attention to my tension, so I tried again, consciously tightening up those stitches, but it didn’t work.

What am I doing wrong? Megan

Question 2

Dear Patty,

When I discovered German short rows, I waved bye-bye to the wrap and turn. I think they look so much neater, with one glaring exception. I was using German Short Rows on a sock heel, but when I returned to working in the round, I ended up with a hole. I’m not talking about the gap you can get with wrap and turn, I’m talking a full-on hole! 

Is it me? What gives? Lynn

Dear What Am I Doing Wrong (Megan) and What Gives (Lynn),

First of all, no, it’s not you, and you’re not doing anything wrong. It’s never you. Always remember that.

Nine times out of ten, when something doesn’t work in your knitting, it’s not you. It’s them. It’s the stitches’ fault, or rather, the anatomy of the stitches’ fault.

Can’t bind off loosely? It’s them.

Wonky ssk? It’s them.

Hole in your short row when working in the round? It is so them.

Once upon a time, I also got a gap in my wrap and turn, and I also got a hole with German short rows. I followed the directions and the directions didn’t help. So, I chucked them out and took a page from the land of infomercials and cried to the heavens, “There’s got to be a better way!”

To understand why both methods have an issue, but one leaves some loose stitches, and the other one leaves a hole, we need to look at how each method connects the worked and un-worked stitches, and if that connection is done before or after the turn.

With wrap-and-turn short rows, your connection is the wrap around the next unworked stitch, and you turn after you wrap. With German short rows, you turn first, and your connection is achieved by working your doubled stitch on the last worked stitch.

What they both have in common is the last wrap or doubled stitch was done on a WS row, but you are closing the gap (by hiding the wrap or working the doubled stitch) on a RS row.

First Up: The Humble Wrap and Turn

When you hide a wrap and turn on a knit side, you simply put your needle into the wrap and then into the stitch and knit them together. All hunk-dory, well and good, but there’s just one problem. When you return to working in the round, that last wrap is facing the wrong way, because it was wrapped on a WS row.

And nobody talks about it. It’s like some dirty little knitting secret. We have all decided that we will just hide the wrap following the same old directions and pretend we don’t see the gap. Just keep moving, show’s over, nothing to see here.


Here’s what works for me:

1. Lift the wrap over the stitch so it sits to the left of the stitch.

2. Now do an SSK with the wrap and the next stitch, slipping only the first stitch as if to knit.


Next, the Even Trickier German Short Row

With German short rows you get more than a gap, you get an actual hole. The problem is worse for German short rows because when you come at the double stitch (DS). which was created on the purl side, from the knit side, working the stitches together will not close the gap, because the gap is on the other side of the DS.

The DS at the right of the photo is worked like all the others (knitting the two legs of the DS together) and as you can see it leaves a small hole to the left. The second DS is worked with this trick:

  1. When you get to the double stitch, knit the first leg of the stitch.

2. Work the second leg with the next stitch, as a k2tog.

Ta-da! No hole.

So next time a pattern tells you to do something and it doesn’t look good, don’t fall into the giant knitting conspiracy of silence. Ask yourself whether there can be a better way. Your knitting will thank you for it.

In the MDK Shop
A+ design and techniques instruction from one of the best knitting teachers we know. Learn and knit with Arnall-Culliford Techniques!

The Secret Language of Patterns

Hey Patty,

I’m wondering how you keep track of your rows, particularly where there are some of the dreaded “at the same time” instructions involved.

Counting Challenged (Liza)

Dear Counting,

I hate words. There, I said it. I feel somehow freer having admitted that. It’s true, I hate words. Years ago, I was working in a yarn store in Greenwich Village that had been featured in a photo spread in Japan. Because of that we became a bit of a tourist attraction for knitters visiting from Japan. One day I was working with a visiting knitter who was confused by a pattern. I kept making it worse with more words. Finally I realized she was used to Japanese patterns, which are all numbers on a schematic. I drew it out and she was thrilled. From that day forward I was all about mapping it out.

This is what I knit from. This coffee stained piece of pattern replaces my entire pattern for the Roselle Tee. No words, just numbers and my own symbols.

Where mapping it out REALLY comes in handy is the dreaded “at the same time.” That’s when throwing out the words is the bomb!

Take this “at the same time” for back neck and shoulder shaping. Otherwise known as blah, blah, blah.

(RS) Work to center 34 sts, attach a second ball, BO center 34 sts, work to end of the row

NOTE: Neck and shoulder shaping are done AT THE SAME TIME working both sides at once using their own ball of yarn.

Neck shaping: Bind off 2 sts at each neck edge twice.

Shoulder shaping: Bind off 4 sts at the beginning of the next 6 rows.

With a few arrows and some numbers you can make a simple map for these 7 rows of the “at the same time.”

Since you can only bind off at the start of the row, when you map it out, it’s easy to see at a glance when you’re binding off where.

Say goodbye to words, and hello to mapping!

[Editor’s note: Check out Patty’s update of these techniques here.]

About The Author

Patty Lyons is a nationally recognized knitting teacher and technique expert. In her pursuit of training the mindful knitter, Patty is known for teaching the “why” in addition to the “how.” She specializes in sweater design and sharing her love of the much-maligned subjects of gauge and blocking.

You can find Patty at her website and on Ravelry.

Do you have a problem you’d like Patty to tackle? Write to her at



  • Thanks so much! This should resolve my frustrations with short-rows heels in socks. I can’t wait to try.

    • I adore Japanese knitting patterns! Especially for my math challenged brain, seeing those maps does away with all that verbage (a word that is uncannily confused with garbage), and the picture becomes crystal clear. Thanks for bringing this out!

  • Love these tips!

    • Fantastic! Thank you!

      • I love the idea of using a map instead of written directions. But in looking at your map, Patty, I would only bind off the shoulder stitches three times. That’s the way the map looks to me. Three arrows pointing to the number 4. What am I missing?

        • It’s actually BO 4 st at the beginning of the next 6 rows (I had originally had a typo and said the beginning of the next 4 rows instead of 6). You can only BO at the start of a row. When you are working two sides at once in sweaters, with two balls of yarn, one row is working until the end of the needle. Think about two sides of that sweater of those sweater stitches on a single needle. One row would be working across both sides until you turn your work.

  • Great instructions. When I see “At the same time” I get nervous. Thank you!

  • You.Are.Brilliant.

  • Genius! And it makes sense—better than magic.

  • Thank you for solving the ‘how to fix the gap’ that results with W&T short rows on sock heels. I’m venturing into sock knitting for the first time and just completed first short row heel—with a sense of satisfaction except for the resulting gap. Now I can tackle that little gap issue with a great solution! Very timely post for me today!

  • Excellent!

  • No longer will I reject a pattern because of the words “short rows”. You have put me in command now….thanks Patty!

  • Thank you so much! My current project involves wrapping and turning and this should help. But because things can never be spelled out too clearly for me, can you clarify this statement:

    2. Now do an SSK with the wrap and the next stitch, slipping only the first stitch as if to knit.

    –Does this mean you slip the second stitch as if to purl?

    Here’s a question which could cause controversy. I’ve been googling wrap and turn videos and there seems to be a 50-50 split in opinions as to whether you slip the stitch before moving the yarn to the front (slip stitch, move yarn, slip stitch back, move yarn back) or move the yarn to the front and then slip. Any thoughts?

    • Think about the WHY of an SSK. What is it? You slip two stitches as if to knit so you turn them around with their leading leg in the back so you can knit them together through the back loop. We often do a move like an SSK without thinking about what it actually is. So, if we do an SSK by only slipping the first stitch, that simply means we only turn the first stitch mount around, then simply put it back on the left needle and knit 2 together through the back loop.

      As for the second question, that has to do with how you hide the wrap. I prefer moving the stitch first then the yarn, because it leaves the wrap like a stitch lying on it’s side with the leading leg on the top. Much easier to hide . . . but that might have to be a column :)/

      • Yes, PLEASE!!!!!

  • After I finish the short row heel from Wanderlust, I pick up a stitch on each side of the sole and then knit those end stitches together on the next round – to avoid a gap there. Is there a way to do this better? I’m not sure it helps much or at all.

    • What I just wrote in the column is what I do to avoid a gap. Just what I do. Not the only way, just my way.

      • I like your way better. To me it seems more elegant and actually addresses the issue i stead of being a work-around that requires remembering extra steps of picking up 2 extra sts and then remembering they need to be worked into one stitch later. The less I need to remember, the better!

    • I think I was taught the same thing.

  • For the wrap and turn, your picture doesn’t show the lifted stitch sitting to the left of the stitch. Then when you say only slip the first stitch as if to knit, what do you do with the second stitch? I’m sorry, your pink stitch pictures turned out kind of blurry. You actually said, “Now do an SSK with the wrap and the next stitch, slipping only the first stitch as if to knit.” Can you explain a little further, or say it a different way? Thanks!!

    • Think about the WHY of an SSK. What is it? You slip two stitches as if to knit so you turn them around with their leading leg in the back so you can knit them together through the back loop. We often do a move like an SSK without thinking about what it actually is. So, if we do an SSK by only slipping the first stitch, that simply means we only turn the first stitch mount around, then simply put it back on the left needle and knit 2 together through the back loop.

  • Every tip sooo helpful! Thank you! This may get me to try a short row heel again. Tho I think bust darts might even be more likely.

  • This is so helpful! I was getting so frustrated with the elongated stitches on that sweater that I stuffed it in a bag and hid it in my closet. Now I know what to do, it’s going back on the needles as soon as it’s not 112 degrees anymore 🙂

  • I love the reversion from words to pictures… Reading is overrated. (if we are adulting they are ‘diagrams’) As far as ‘keeping track’… I know there are tricks and tips. But my dear friend created ‘Knitlinx’ for row counting. Is anybody else using these??

  • Please tell me how to knit a double wrapped stitch. I am doing short row heels. Instructions say put needle through both wraps and then thru the knit stitch. How does one do that? I cannot figure it out.
    Thank you
    Mary Ellen

  • You are my absolute hero! There is so much to confuse the wandering knitter with patterns (yes, even beginner level) written in unfamiliar jargon and confusing techniques. You have set so many of us free to just get in there and have a good time. Thank you!

    • So glad I could help. It all comes from how confused I was when I first started knitting, and how many things I screwed up.

  • Loved this article. I’ve also learned to forgive myself for -everything- when I’m knitting!

  • Came for the short rows. Thrilled with the mapping bonus. Thanks. Bookmarked.

  • I have another problem with a GSR heel. It’s not at the sides, but along the “seam”. My first lot of double stitches look pretty good when resolved, but the second lot end up holey.

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