Ask Patty: Wrap and Turn or German Short Rows?
I love German short rows and would like to use them in patterns that call for wrap and turn short rows. Some people say when subbing you always work one MORE stitch than the pattern says, and others say just the opposite … and nobody explains WHY. So I’m coming to the Queen of Why to ask how to sub.
Totally turned around,
PS Yes, I am a school teacher and I just realized I am asking you to show your work. 🙂
Dear Totally Turned Around,
Before we dig into the “work one more vs work one fewer” can of worms, let’s look at what German and wrap and turn short rows have in common and how they differ. Reader, if you’re new to German short rows, see the video up top.
Since short rows are turning your work before finishing the row, some stitches will get worked for more rows than others—that’s what shapes your fabric. If you just turn your work around, you’ll get a gap (explained here). All short row methods involve somehow adding a bit of extra yarn that’ll be used to close the gap at the turning point.
Here’s how the two techniques look written out:
Wrap and turn: Work to your turning point, wrap your yarn around the next UNWORKED stitch, turn your work. The turn comes AFTER you wrap.
German short row: Work to your turning point, turn your work, slip the last WORKED stitch to the right-hand needle and create your doubled stitch. The turn comes BEFORE the doubled stitch.
So if you’re swapping techniques do you work one more or one fewer? Before? Between? Any “always” rule to work one fewer or one more stitch falls apart. By “one more” or “one fewer,” do you mean total stitches worked in a row or the stitches between the turn? Are the short rows worked long to short or short to long? Calgon, take me AWAY!
Don’t worry, swapping techniques is simpler than memorizing a rule, and yes, Ana, I will show my work.
Both short row techniques involve turning in the same place. The first turn will always be on the stitch called for in the pattern. It’s the remaining short row instructions that get tricky. Although the short row turn needs to stay in the same place, what marks the turn will be different. Since subsequent short rows will refer to how many stitches you work before or after the “wrap,” that is what will have to be adjusted.
Working Long to Short
First up: a little swatch that works the short rows from long to short, like shoulder shaping.
When you follow the rule that says “always work one more stitch” for German shorts, it looks like it totally matches on the needles. Instead of working to 3 stitches before the end of the row, I kept going and worked an extra stitch, and I did the same thing between each turn.
Here’s the wrap and turn on the needles and the German short rows on the needles following the “one more stitch” rule:
If you look at charting it out, you can see the replacement looks like it matches, meaning when you TURN YOUR WORK AROUND matches (arrow is w&t, D is doubled stitch) but …
… the actual SHORT ROW TURN—when you stop working a row—does not match. So, the shape of your knitting will not be the same.
Here you can see the original pattern (on top) and the German short row with one more stitch (on the bottom). If you look at stitch 6 on the German short row swatch, you can see that it’s worked for an extra row. The doubled stitch (made after the turn) is the last worked stitch from the previous row, as opposed to the wrapped st (made before the turn) being the first unworked stitch from the previous row.
Match the Short Row Turn, Not the Physical Turn.
To convert to German short rows, you’ll keep the first turn in the same place. Then you’ll work one fewer stitches before the doubled stitch than the pattern tells you for a wrap.
You can remember it this way: when short rows are getting smaller, work one stitch fewer between turns.
Here’s the converted German Short Rows on the needle. It doesn’t seem to match, but it does. When you work to the last 3 stitches and do a w&t, you’ll see 2 stitches before the wrap. When you work to the last 3 stitches and turn and do a doubled stitch, you’ll see 3 stitches before doubled stitch. The important thing is not how it looks, but what it IS. Both have three unworked stitches at the end of the needle.
If you were to chart it out, it would look like this (arrow is w&t, D is doubled stitch). This shows we’re focusing not on matching when we turn our needles around, but matching how many stitches are worked each row and how many are left unworked.
The proof is in the knitting. Here’s the original w&t swatch. The German short row matches it perfectly:
Working Short to Long—This Is Where Things Get Messy!
In this example we’re working on short rows to create a fabric that gets progressively longer, like in a shirt tail hem.
You get the idea … if I always work one more stitch, it ends up looking like this on the chart:
And again, our knitting shape doesn’t match:
To convert this to German short rows, you’d have to work one more stitch after working the doubled stitch than the pattern tells you for a wrap (except for the very first in the pair, which is one fewer stitch). You can remember it this way: when short rows are getting longer, work one stitch more between turns.
If you were to chart it out, it would look like this (arrow is w&t, D is doubled stitch). When you see it on a chart, you can see why “always” rules don’t help.
Ana, here’s your WHY:
All you have to do is remember that the DS is the first stitch of the next row.
The moral of the story is there’s no crying in baseball, and there’s no always in knitting. I love charting my short rows out so I can really see them. BUT if you love a good always, I’ll leave you with three:
1) Always match the number of unworked stitches
2) Always make the first turn in the same spot as the pattern calls for it in EVERY method
3) Always think of the DS as stitch #1 of the row.
And one more: always think of the why.