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Dear Patty,

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.

About Turns

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.



Got all that? Save it for future reference with one click! And, yes, we made a handy downloadable with Patty’s charts and tables here. We love bringing you engaging content every day. Your MDK Shop purchases and Field Guide Subscriptions make it all possible. Thanks for browsing here and here in our ever-changing Sale aisle!

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



  • Thank you for this exclamation. I love German short rows but am always kind of winging it when I convert. It’s really helpful to understand the “why”. Thank you!

  • If anyone can explain clearly, it’s Patty. But short rows still confuse me!

    • Patty explains everything so well! My favorite knitting instructor to read.

  • I’m definitely saving this for when I have had my tea. Thanks for the extra charts!

  • Wow. What a great how to! I would get to the point of being totally lost, and they you would come up with another way to explain it! How could you know I needed that! Thanks so much for all your explanations.

  • Swapping one method for the other will never give an identical row count on every stitch column as the DS is created on a slipped stitch and there are no slipped stitches in the wrap and turn method. A bit of apples to pears vs apples to apples I think.

    • The DS is actually created on the last worked stitch of the row, and then you slip it. Take a peek at the column and you’ll see the way to get the identical row count for every stitch. If you take a close look at the image of the german short for swatch that is done to match, it is stacked right on top of the W&T and it’s a perfect match. Give it a try and you’ll get apples to apples!

      • Thanks Patty, I will give it a go.

      • The swatches look identical but the row counts are different. The w&t row counts jumps up by two’s, the German method doesn’t. It doesn’t matter because the swatches look the same and that is what is important.

        • If you sub the way the article suggests, you are not matching when you physically turn your work around, you are matching how many stitches are being worked each row. I have them both in my hand right now. Each stitch had the identical row count (you can see in the side by side photo). Give it a try, you might like it.

  • Patty,
    Whatever you get paid to write Ask Patty is not enough. Then again, as a teacher myself we know we don’t do it for the money. I am one who says I should always knit under supervision, especially when it comes to short rows. I just always second guess myself. Thank you for another great article and for showing your work/thinking.

    • Patty, this is so incredibly helpful, especially the examples! I just knit a sweater substituting GSWs, which seemed a bit off, and now I know why. Next time around I’ll be better prepared!

  • Just encountered short rows for the very first time earlier this week, and was royally confused. So this is super helpful in explaining what’s going on. The pattern used wrap & turn, but some of the places I looked for help mentioned German short rows as an option. What are the pros and cons of the different methods for doing short rows?

    • Some is personal preference, some is pattern structure. For something reversible, like a shawl collar, German Short rows or twin stitch look the best front and back. If you are are a really tight knitter, you might like YO short row. If you are a really loose knitter, W&T might be great. I also like W&T for garter stitch because hides perfectly in garter and does not need to be hidden. You also wouldn’t want to sub german short rows for W&T when working a short row heel where the turns are stacked and the same stitch is worked twice

      • Why not use German short rows when the turns are stacked?

    • Or is the end product exactly the same, just achieved a different way?

  • Perfect timing! Just struggled with this exact problem on the sweater I’m currently working on. Thanks so much for the explanation!

  • I was going to ask if German short rows could be used for short row heels in socks, but I see that you have already addressed that idea with a big NO below.

    My issue with German short rows has always been how to find the DS double stitch going back. You don’t seem to use stitch markers of any kind in your samples

    • You totally can if it helps (like with thinner yarn), but you can really see those distorted doubled stitches pretty easily when you come to them.

      • Perfect timing, just about to start a sock heel with the pattern calling for German short rows. I may wear out the video until things click in my brain,but feel confident it will all come together.

        For the same socks, I am following your one move SSK and K3TOG, what a noticeable difference in how the stitches look. Knitting Bag of Tricks sits right on the coffee table so it’s always handy.

  • THANK YOU! I’ve been using German Short rows in lieu of W&T, but I’d been winging the conversion, too. Incorrectly, it turns out!

  • This is so brilliant! I can’t thank you enough Patty. I had noticed the difference in the counting on projects, but it never seemed to make that much difference in the appearance in the finished project, until the Woodland Loafers where everything is a short row and the tongue of the shoe looks just a little off. Now I know why! This is a great project to practice converting short rows on because you work both long to short and short to long – on large needles. Yay!

  • Tha

    Thanks Patty this was so helpful. I recently had a pattern using this technique.
    I was not familiar. The short rows I had done in the past were other methods. I searched YouTube for demos as I was not certain I was doing it right and they were not nearly as clear as yours. I appreciate your expertise and posting this with such thorough demonstration.

  • thank you. you cleared a puzzle in my brain.

  • LOVE your posts and agree… MDK probably couldn’t afford to pay you what these articles are worth! BUT, I am always the problem child asking why. I can see that in a short range, like your samples or on the top of a sleeve cap (something that in inches/cm is small) having the turn in the exact same spot is important, but when you are working across the width of a sweater, does it really matter?
    To me, I subscribe to the theory that if someone is inspecting my sweater (particularly when I’m wearing it) close enough to count stitches they have invaded my personal space LOL and turns as long as equidistant from center (or sides) are fine if they are evenly spaced and more-or-less where intended.
    As someone with a small bust, I constantly have to fiddle with patterns because the front sags (cardigans are the worst–graded for a B-cup or larger, meaning they always hang low in front, depressing!) and have found that short rows starting about 5-7 inches from center front across the back helps fix that problem. Thoughts? And have saved article as a PDF to a new folder on my laptop called Tips but may as well be called Patty L. Thanks!

  • I’m sticking with wrap and turns. Thank you!

  • Wonderful. You make it so easy to follow. Thank you.

  • Loved this detailed explanation. Thank you!

  • So many people only know GSR or W&T. I prefer the Japanese short rows and wonder why it isn’t talked about more. I find the fabric to be cleaner once all have been resolved, it looks better and just makes a lot more sense to me than any method I’ve seen.

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