Friday, March 26, 2021

Short Rows My Way

There are lots of different ways to do short rows. I have unvented my own favorite way, and I wouldn't be at all surprised if I'm not the only one. But because I haven't found this particular method documented online anywhere, here is a photo tutorial. This tutorial shows how I work over a single short row on the RS and the WS of the fabric. Mitered short row heels and toes are out of scope for this post. 

First, here is one short summary of some classic methods. My method is closest to the "catch" method illustrated here. Run a Google search and you will find many more articles.

Also, the dear departed incomparable Cat Bordhi came up with her own method of working short rows as part of her Sweet Tomato Heels shaping. This is fairly new and so not included in most short row summaries you'll find online. My method is also similar to Cat's. Watch her STH video and right after 6 minutes is when she begins to show the details of how she closes her short row gaps.

Alright. So here's how I do it.

In the sample below, the short rows are worked in red, and the last full row just below them is in yellow. This should hopefully help you to see how the sts are related to each other. Note how the last red stitch is worked only once; that's because when you turn the work to the WS, you slip the first stitch. 


Here's how the other side looks from the WS.


I'm using a third color (blue) to distinguish the row where the gap between the last red stitch and the first yellow stitch is closed. On this row, knit all the way up to the last red stitch -- the one to the immediate R of the gap.


Insert the tip of the L needle into the back of the first yellow stitch on the R needle, 2 sts below the one you just knitted. As you do this, you should feel the stitch to the L tighten up a little. That's because they are right next to each other on the same row.



Work the first two sts on the L needle together with a k2tog. (Note: these 2 sts are in opposing orientations -- the first leads from the back, and the second leads from the front. This is on purpose. Doing a k2tog with the sts in this configuration will ensure that the second stitch will be in front, and first one will twist behind it, which helps to conceal the gap.)


The gap is now closed, and completely invisible.




Now on to the other side. Working a short row conceal from the WS is a pain. I personally prefer to knit left to right with the RS facing me rather than purl on the WS, but since this is not how most knitters work, here are the instructions for doing my short row method from the WS.

Just as you did when working on the RS, work (in this case purl) up to the last short row (red) stitch.



Insert the L needle tip under and through the (yellow) stitch 2 below the one you just worked. You'll feel the stitch to its left tighten up a little. 


If you don't particularly care about having an invisible gap closure that perfectly matches the one on the other side, you can simply do a p2tog here and it will look pretty good. But if you want it to match, and to be invisible, you'd need to do slip-slip-purl decrease here. (Note: Remember how when you worked the k2tog, the sts you worked together were in opposing orientations? The same will be true here, except it will be in reverse: your first p stitch will lead with the front leg the next will lead with the back leg.) 

It's a pain, I know. Remember you can just do a p2tog here if you want. The next 4 steps show you how I do this modified ssp.


1. Slip the first st on the L needle to the R needle purlwise, without changing the orientation.



2. Slip the next st on the L needle knitwise, changing the orientation.



Now you need to work these 2 sts together in a way such that the loop will be emerging through the loop on the left. You *could* slip them back to the L needle and work them as TECHknitter or Interweave tells you. But I don't like doing it that way. Here's how I do it.


3. Make sure your working yarn (blue) is in front. Insert your L needle through the first 2 sts on the R needle, L needle in front.



4. Wrap the working yarn around the L needle and, using the L needle tip, pull it through both sts. 



Congratulations, you just made an ssp. 

Now slip this stitch to the R needle and purl to the end of the row. Depending on how you wrapped the working (blue) yarn, you may need to shift the orientation of the ssp stitch as you slip it. Read your knitting and check to be sure it leads with the front leg, like all the other sts. 



Here's what that ssp looks like from the RS. Just like the conceal on the opposite side, the gap here is invisible, and the sides match.



At some point I will probably add to this post with how to work the second side from RS working left to right, since that's probably just as quirky and unconventional as my instructions for working a modified ssp from the WS. But at least then you will have your choice of multiple quirky and unconventional methods, rather than just one. ;) 













Provisional Primer: Reloaded

I have been tinkering with provisional sts a lot lately because I've been working on gloves, afterthought heels, and similar forms. I blogged about this topic in 2011, but I do things a little differently now. Below is a photographic guide to my latest methods for picking up provisional sts and working added parts. The main challenges we face with this technique are avoiding holes in the corners where sts are added, and also getting an even stitch count. 

My 2011 provisional primer illustrated that the live loops above and below the provisional waste yarn are offset by 1/2 stitch, and there are noticeable gaps on either side of the live sts on the top row. For this reason, I recommended picking up 1 additional stitch on each side of the live loops on top. This means you will have 1 more stitch on the top row than you will on the bottom row. 


If you want to have the same number of sts on top & bottom, this is a relatively simple tweak. When working the scrap yarn, simply do a k2tog decrease somewhere on the bottom row. In this example, the last 2 sts worked with the scrap yarn, on the far left, are worked together. 

(Alternatively you could work the scrap yarn over all sts and do a k2 on the next round over the scrap yarn, but I find that when done this way it is harder to do the next step.)

Later when you pick up sts, be sure to thread your lifeline through both sts that are worked together in the k2tog.  



When I unpick my scrap yarn, including the sts picked up in the corners on top, I have 12 top sts and 12 bottom sts.  

In my 2011 post, I kinda stopped there. But when I returned to this topic recently, I found that if I simply began working these 24 sts in the round, I'll still have holes in both corners:  



These holes result from excessive slack in the stitches, not gaps between them. So technically they can be closed by redistributing the slack into the other sts on the row. Nevertheless, I decided I needed a more elegant solution that would put less stress on the corner sts. It adds three quick steps to the process.

1. Pick up 2 extra sts on either end in the bottom row. (This means you now have 2 more sts on the bottom than you do on top, but this is temporary.)


2. As you work each of the 4 corner sts, twist them (either way, per your preference). The twist will conceal any small openings. The image below shows one of the top corner sts after being twisted. You will work all 4 in the same way (you may wish to mirror the twist direction but that's up to you). 


3. To correct the stitch count, I like to work 1 round with the 2 extra sts on the bottom, then on the next round I decrease them with a k2tog and ssk. (Note that in several of my recent glove patterns I have instructed knitters to close holes by picking up gap sts and then immediately working them with the next st, but I now prefer working all picked up sts in the first round, then decreasing on the second round.)

Round 1:


Round 2:

At this point if I continue working my 24 sts in the round, my corners are quite tidy. There is a small amount of extra slack in the corners of the top sts, but this will probably self-resolve after the first washing. 


Hopefully this tutorial will help you to work tidy finger and heel joins. Please stay tuned for more upcoming patterns from me that make use of this technique (there's your teaser!)  


Sunday, January 24, 2021



Although this is an older photo of my just-published glove pattern Handspan, it's still my favorite one of this design, because how can you resist this adorable model?  Here is my friend Gerda pictured in 2018 on my 48th birthday in her home city of Tempe AZ, where we met in grad school. I love you, my friend. <3