Skip to content

After my article “Short Row Basics”—explaining the basic concept behind short rows—a number of you asked for further guidance on making technique substitutions. If you’ve not read that first how-to, have a quick look, just to make sure that the terms I use below make sense to you!

Short Row Substitutions

In that last column, I talked about five short row methods: wrap & turn, yarnover, pinning, shadow, and German. 

Each of these techniques does the same two things: creates a bridge that helps reduce the gap that comes from turning before the end of the row, and puts some tension on the stitch before the turn point, to help eliminate the sloppiness.

The crux of the whole thing is identifying the Turn Point. The turn point is after the last stitch worked normally, before you do The Funny Business. If the pattern is written for four of the five methods, it’s very clear: since the Funny Business is worked after the Turn Point, the position of the Turn Point is obvious.

In each of these images, the turn point is indicated by the big arrow, I’ve put a box around the last stitch worked normally, and a circle around the Funny Business.


For example, if the pattern is written for wrap & turn, it might say:

K10, w&t.


K to the last 5 stitches, w&t.

If you want to work the yarnover, the pinning/Japanese or the shadow method instead, it’s easy. These four methods are all entirely interchangeable without any fuss.

Everything stays the same:

K10, Do The Funny Business.


K to the last 5 stitches, Do The Funny Business.

The exception is the German method. In the German method you need to actually work the stitch as part of the Funny Business.


So then it would go like this:

K10, Do-The-Funny-Business-Which-Includes-Knitting-The-Stitch. 

Which therefore becomes 

K11, then turn and complete the doubled stitch.


K to the last 5 stitches, Do-The-Funny-Business-Which-Includes-Knitting-The-Stitch.

Which therefore becomes 

K to the last 4 stitches, then turn and complete the doubled stitch.

Put another way, if the pattern is written for another method and you want to use the German instead (and who wouldn’t, it’s a fantastic one), just work one more stitch. Easy!

And if the pattern is written for the German method, and you want to work another, just stop one stitch earlier, and start the Funny Business in that position.

In the MDK Shop
Short-row heels star in our Socks 101 Field Guide with mix-and-match designs by Wendy Bernard. Thanks for your purchases. They support everything we do here at MDK.
By Kay Gardiner and Ann Shayne

On Short Rows at Necklines

And to answer another common question, “What’s the deal with short rows at the neckline?”

When working a garment seamlessly, top down, you often cast on the stitches for the full circumference of neckline at the same time. If you work straight down in rounds, the garment would sit at the same height at the front and back of your neck, when you wear it. But if you stand sideways and look at yourself in the mirror, you’ll see that your neck starts lower at your front than at your back, and so for a sweater to fit comfortably, the front neck opening needs to sit lower down than the back neck opening. To do this, a lot of garments worked seamlessly use short rows centered around the back neck, to create some extra height.

Wouldn’t This Come in Handy?

Here’s how to save this article in your MDK account with one click.

About The Author

Kate Atherley is a teacher, designer, author and technical editor. She’s also the publisher of Digits & Threads, a magazine all about Canadian fibre and textile arts.


  • This is SO just what I needed! Read, enjoyed, appreciated and bookmarked! Thank you.

  • Perfect! Thank you

  • Asa Tricosa used short rows extensively in her Ziggerats. Which one of these methods conforms to what she recommends? She also talks about Japanese short rows. Thanks.

    • I’m sorry, I don’t know the details of the Ziggurats… perhaps someone else can weigh in on that?

  • So helpful! Thank you!

  • So helpful to echo others
    Thank you

  • Is the conversion from w&t to German short rows different if you’re going short to long instead of long to short? Thanks!

    • It’s exactly the same either way!

  • When you resolve a (German) short row in the round, on the right side, that you’ve set up on the purl side, how do you avoid a hole? I resolved 3, but one of them was wonky. I’m not sure what happened, but I couldn’t fix it! (going to stitch it shut)

  • Funny business! Ha, love it. Thanks Kate.

    I did W&T for years and always hated how noticeable the wraps were. Then I discovered German short rows and they are now a firm favorite, they are as close to invisible as it’s possible for short rows to be, IMO.

  • Love your descriptions Kate. They made me smile 😀

  • This is great! Have never been so pleased with the outcome on short rows. Have bookmarked for later help. Thanks for making this solution so clear.

My Cart0
There are no products in the cart!
Continue shopping