German Short Rows

For years I was never really satisfied with the way my short rows turned out.  I had tried various methods.  It always seemed like no matter what I did, the wrap was either too tight or too loose or I couldn’t find the wrap or pick up the stitches and knit them together properly.  Whatever I did, it always seemed so obvious when I looked at my finished work that my short rows stunk.  Then along came the German short row technique.  I’m writing about it because my new shawl, Aliter, uses this technique.

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As Elizabeth Zimmermann always says, there’s nothing really “new” in knitting; it’s already been done before…just rediscovered.  (She used the word “unvented!”)   I’m sure German short rows have been around for a long time, but when I read about them two years ago, I decided to give them a try.   My short-row experience changed.  When I looked at the knitted fabric, it was hard for me to tell where I had put in the short rows.  They were hidden.  The transitions were smooth.  They seemed perfect.  I was finally happy with my short rows.

Here’s a little photo tutorial on German short rows.  After the picture portion, I go into a more detailed explanation, below.

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A knit row has been worked to the point at which the short row is to be placed. The right needle is poised to slip the next stitch purlwise.

The stitch is being slipped and the working yarn is coming up and over the needle.  (You can see the

The stitch is being slipped and the working yarn is coming up and over the needle. (You can see the “double stitch” emerging.)  The yarn will go all the way around to the front again so that purl stitches can be worked.

A purl row has been worked.  The work has been turned to the right side AND the working yarn has been moved to the front.

A purl row has been worked. The work has been turned to the right side AND the working yarn has been moved to the front.

The stitch is being slipped, and the working yarn is going up and over to the right needle.  Working yarn will stay at the back as the knit row continues.

The stitch is being slipped, and the working yarn is going up and over to the right needle. Working yarn will stay at the back as the knit row continues.

When it is time to work across an entire row, the

When it is time to work across an entire row, the “double stitch” is worked as you would a p2tog or k2tog.

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Short rows create a fabric where there are extra rows created in a particular section of the fabric.  In this case, the extra rows are in the center of the work.

Short rows create a fabric where there are extra rows created in a particular section of the fabric. In this case, the extra rows are in the center of the work.

On a knit row, knit to the point where the short row is to be worked.  Turn the work (the working yarn is at the front).  Slip the next stitch purlwise and pull the yarn up and over the working needle to create a “double stitch.”  If the next row is a knit row, the yarn is already in place to continue (at the back of the work).  If the row is a purl row, you’ll have to take that yarn all the way around to the front again.

To work a German short row on a purl row, purl to the point where the short row is to be worked.  Turn the work (the working yarn is at the back).  Move the yarn to the front of the work.  Slip the next stitch purl wise and pull the yarn up and over the working needle to create a “double stitch.”  Again, if it’s a knit row, you’re ready to go.  If it’s a purl row, bring the yarn all way around to the front again.

An essential thing to remember if you’re using German short rows  is WHERE you turn the work.  It changes by one stitch when using German short rows vs. traditional short rows.  With German short rows, you work right up to where you want to turn.  This stitch becomes the turning point.  With the traditional short row method, you work to the stitch before you want to turn.  The next stitch is wrapped and this stitch is the turning point.

If you are thinking about making the Aliter shawl, I hope you’ll give the German short row method a whirl!

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