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!

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