short and shapely

Posted on Posted in book reviews/events

today i am handing the blog over to my friend and fellow designer, carol feller, so she can tell you about her just-released book, short row knits. her book is filled with great suggestions for creating shaped parts, including sock toes and heels, bust darts (should you need them), shoulders without stair steps, and more. the book is once again beautifully photographed by joseph feller, whose photos appear throughout this post.

if you are one of the many enthusiasts of my newest design release, atlantique (see post below this one), you might want to brush up on short row technique—it is used in several parts of this garment, including its signature collar. i would even go so far as to say that short rows “make” the piece!

carol is an expert on this subject—she has agreed to talk about how to get over fear of short-rowing, how to eliminate inconsistencies with better technique, and how to enjoy playing around with this great way of shaping your knits.


I’m very grateful to Anne for inviting me to do a guest post on her blog to talk about my new book, Short Row Knits. Since early in my design career I’ve had a love affair with short rows; they are so versatile and can help you create useful, beautiful shapes so easily. What I was less in love with was the methods out there for creating short rows. Everyone claimed to have the ‘best’ way to create them and it was very confusing! As I started digging in to the different methods it quickly becomes clear that they all work the same way, you knit to the point you want to turn, turn your work and then work in the other direction. What changes with each method is the way you join your work when you turn. Some create a ‘loop’ that is held around the next stitch, a marker or strip of yarn and others pull up the stitch from the row below. I think the specific technique is less important than understanding what you are trying to do; find an invisible way to hide the join where you turned mid-row. If you understand it you can correct any problems you’re having and apply short rows in many different ways.

If knitters work through a sample swatch learning the different ways of creating short rows it will give them to tools they need when they need to switch between methods. I use different short row methods for different situations; if I’ve got a loosely knit fabric I’ll use Japanese short rows as they create the smallest loop, for ribbing viewed on both sides German is best as it looks the same on both sides. Also remember you can even use different methods on each end of your work! You might prefer wrap & turn when you turn to a knit row but Japanese when you turn to a purl row. Working through a swatch will help you make these decisions. Frequently when you work short rows the end (left end) where you turn to the purl side of your work you can get a loose stitch. This is because when you work a purl stitch you are wrapping the yarn further around the needle compared to the knit stitch, this allows extra yarn to create a loose stitch. A short row method that has a smaller loop of yarn, such as a Japanese short row may help with this.

So experiment and see what works best for your knitting!

To practice some of the short row methods that you learn I’ve added 20 patterns to the book that use different techniques. I was lucky enough to use some Bare Naked Wools to create 2 of the patterns in the book; Arenal and Celeste.


Arenal is a pair of toe up socks that uses Breakfast Blend Fingering (now, Better Breakfast Fingering). The yarn really helps these socks, the softness and halo from the alpaca works really well with the ribbed cable pattern and short rows. These socks are worked from the toe up; they begin with a provisional cast-on, work yarnover short row wedges to shape the toe and then joining with the cast-on you work the foot up to the heel gusset. Frequently with short row heels there is no gusset worked, this is a pet hate of mine, I’ve got a high arch and without a gusset I can’t put a sock on my foot!


Once the gusset increases are complete you work a short row wedge for the heel as for the toe, then do your gusset decreases and knit the leg of your sock. Yarnover short rows are ideal for socks, you’re working 2 sets of short rows one straight on top of the other and with yarnovers all of the yarn ‘loops’ are effectively sitting on the needle making them easy to knit together.


The second pattern, Celesete, uses Stone Soup DK yarn, a soft yarn that is happy to be knit at a loose gauge which allows it to bloom. This is a top down shawl that is entirely shaped using short rows. The shawl begins with a Picot cast-on for all the stitches then immediately you begin working short rows (using Japanese method) to create the curve of the shawl.


Stitches are never increased or decreased; all of the shaping is short rows. In the book I’ve got a section talking about shawl shaping, with suggestions and guidelines for changing the shape of the curve. Finally when the short rows are complete the work is finished with a wide lace edging. I love working heavier yarns in lace, even simple stitch patterns become bold and dramatic when they’re oversized!

For visual learners you can see a lot of these techniques demonstrated in my Craftsy class Essential Short Row Techniques class that forms a great companion to this book.

The Bare Naked Wools were such a pleasure to work with, fantastic high quality, natural yarn. Thank you for being part of this book! Join us for the next stop on the tour 25th of September with Laura Nelkin.

and thank YOU carol; we really appreciate the time you’ve put into teaching us new ways to think about and expand our knitting repertoire. please do check out carol’s book—the entire pattern collection can be viewed on its ravelry pages and print versions may be purchased on amazon as well as other booksellers.

carol’s publisher, potter craft, has offered a special treat for the blog today—a free copy of short row knits to be mailed to one lucky reader. to be included in the drawing, please leave a comment at the end of this post by 9 pm EDT on wednesday september 23 telling us your favorite shade of better breakfast fingering yarn. we will announce the winner in the blog post following. thank you all so much for supporting independent designers!

108 thoughts on “short and shapely

  1. I am just learning how to master short rows. Carol’s book would be a wonderful addition. My favorite shade of better breakfast fingering yarn is Daybreak. Thanks to Potter Craft for the giveaway.

  2. Daybreak, then Porridge. But I’ve gotta try Biscotti…. hmmm.. Love the shawl, love the socks. Why aren’t there more than 24 hours in a day?!

  3. That is a tough choice, sorry but I wam only able to narrow it down to muesli and porridge, but I love them all

  4. Daybreak is such a versatile gray, although hot chocolate is a cozy as its name! Looks like this book is useful and inspiring — thanks for the contest!

  5. I like doing short rows and would love to win this book to broaden my knowledge. Milk and honey is my favorite!

  6. Milk and honey is the perfect go with anything neutral; not that all aren’t lovely. Love Carol’s past designs; this looks like another winner. Thanks for the choices – and the contest.

    Knitsiam (aka Bonnie)

  7. I’m going to go with Warm Coals, though Daybreak would be a close second. I think it would be great for the Riyito pattern from the book.

  8. My favorite shade of Better Breakfast is poppy seed. If I don’t win this book, it’s going on my wish list for Christmas!

  9. My favorite shade is Mocha. That book looks great! I didn’t know there was more than one way to do a short row.

  10. Boy – it’s sure hard to pick a favorite, but I think it would have to be burnt toast. I have some flapjack that is lovely, but I think I like the dark rich look of bt.

    Would love to take a look at a compilation of short row techniques. I have used several of them, but cool to have them all pulled together in one place.

  11. I love what short rows can do…this book is uch needed, in my library at least. As for my faborite color of BBB, today I’m thinking Flapjack,although I need to start checking out some of those elegant grays.

  12. Daybreak is my choice of color. I can imagine making several lovely items in this color from Carol’s book. This book looks like a wonderful book for understanding short rows, which I know too little about.

  13. I really like the poppy seed but then there is mocha….muesli….I think I love them all. The book would be a great add to the library. I really like the socks and need to experiment with other ways of short row shaping.

  14. I especially like the Orosi pattern–looks like a classic winter turtleneck! Would love to knit it since it includes bust darts, a technique I would really like to learn as I can definitely put it to use 😉

  15. The shades of your better breakfast blend are all lovely but my favourite is Americano. It is such a rich, beautiful colour – I love it!

  16. I’ll definitely suggest that my local library buy Feller’s book – it looks like a useful resource. It would be a treat to win it.

    Which breakfast is better – Sugarfrost, or Milk and Honey? Today it’s Sugarfrost, but I can hardly decide. Both are lovely!

  17. I love the brown shades of Better Breakfast; my favorite color is the Hot Chocolate. I need to nab some of those skeins before you sell out. I would love to make myself an Ivar Cardigan in that shade.

  18. So many beautiful neutrals! If I had to choose today, Daybreak would be the one; but ask me again tomorrow and it might be Muesli or Biscotti.

  19. What a great book. I like learning different ways to do things. I have done short rows, but could be better. This book sounds like just the ticket! The better breakfast yarns are all so pretty. Currently, I like Waffle. Thanks for the post Carol. And thanks for the give away!

  20. oh dear! Picking just one is almost impossible. Don’t they all cry out to be together? But I can see several projects I’d make in Americano, so I’ll pick that one.

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