Decreases, Increases, Working the Stitches

How to Work Short Row Shaping Part 1 of 4: The Types & Methods of Short Row Shaping

Short row shaping is a technique that can be used to add or remove fabric from a specific area of a garment. Short rows can take several shapes within a garment: they can be worked to form a wedge (dart), a convex curve or a concave curve. They are often used to shape cap sleeves, custom fit the bust, shape shoulders, and as a general design element within a garment.

To get started, I’ve outlined some key terms below:

Turning Point: this is where the knitting changes direction from one row to the next row.

Turning Yarn: this is the working yarn – turning yarn is used in some of the techniques outlined in this series.

Gap: the space (or gap) in the knitting where you turned the stitch in the previous row.

Types of Short Rows

June Hemmons Hiatt describes two types of short rows in The Principles of Knitting: decreasing short rows and increasing short rows. I like this classification because it provides a good general description of the different types of short rows.

Decreasing short rows are more common than increasing short rows and form a convex shape. They are called decreasing short rows because the number of active stitches decreases row by row.

Decreasing Short Rows

Increasing short rows are worked from the side edge of the garment and move toward the center row by row and form a concave shape. They are called increasing short rows because the number of active stitches increases row by row.

Increasing Short Rows

It’s important to know if you are working a decreasing or increasing short row because the technique for “closing the gap” differs between the two. For example, in the Pretty in Mink pattern, I used increasing short rows to form the reverse shirttail at the front cast on edge of the garment. This method is outlined in Sally Melville’s Knitting Pattern Essentials. In this method, you work past the gap on the subsequent row – which means you are closing the gaps as you knit the next row. This differs from the decreasing short rows where you close the gaps after all short row shaping is complete or close the gaps as you bind off.

Techniques for Working Short Rows

The short row shaping techniques discussed in this series fall under decreasing and/or increasing short rows. In Part 2-4 of this blog series, I’ve provided information and instructions for the below listed short row shaping techniques. Please note that instructions are written for Stockinette stitch.

  • Part 2 The Standard and Wrap & Turn Method: can be worked as either a decreasing or increasing short row depending on how the pattern is written.
  • Part 3 The German Short Row Method: can be worked as either a decreasing or increasing short row depending on how the pattern is written.
  • Part 4 The Yarn Over and Japanese Method (Sock Knitting): these methods are worked as decreasing short rows and are typically used to turn the heel of a sock.

Decreasing Short Rows Using the Wrap & Turn Method

 Decreasing Short Rows Wrap & Turn

Increasing Short Rows Using the Wrap & Turn Method

Increasing Short Rows Wrap & Turn

Decreasing Short Rows Using the German Method

Decreasing Short Rows German

 Decreasing Short Rows Using the Yarnover Method

Decreasing Short Rows Yarn Over

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