Basic Short Row Techniques

Short rowing, also called partial knitting, is frequently used to shape shoulders and necklines. This technique helps prevent the stair-step effect created by binding off groups of stitches, and makes a smooth edge for seaming or picking up stitches, a neckband, for instance. Short rows may be either decreases or increases. Decreases are used for shoulders and necklines. Increases are sometimes used to shape the lower edges of skirts, and may be used in bust darts beret-style hats, or circular garments, such as capes.

Short Row Decreases

These must always be made on the side opposite the carriage. Set carriage to hold stitches that are extended all the way forward; this is position D on the LK 150. Russel levers should be pushed back to l.

Short Row Decreases On The Right Side

Begin with the carriage on the left side of the bed. Bring required number of needles out to hold (pos D) on the right edge. The illustration shows a group of 5 needles. 

short row decrease 2

Knit 1 row, ending with carriage on the right

short row decrease 3

Take the yarn under the first holding needle, and up between the first and second needles. Be sure the yarn stays above the other holding needles, all the way back to the carriage. Lift up the yarn above the carriage before knitting the next row to eliminate slack. Knit back to the left.

short row decrease 4

Bring the next group of needles into hold pos. on the right side. Knit 1 row to the right and pass the yarn under the first holding needle. knit back to the left. Continue in this manner until all required stitches have been decreased. Push the holding needles back to pos C, which is sometimes called upper work position. It is about halfway back on the needle bed. Knit 1 row to seal the wrapped stitches and create a smooth edge. It is sometimes possible to return the Russel levers to ll and knit the holding stitches without first pushing them back to pos c. This would normally be when there are no other needles in hold anywhere on the bed, when knitting a cardigan front shoulder, for example.

short row shoulders

Short rows can be worked on both edges at the same time. This is the way shoulder shaping on a sweater back is done.

short row decrease 5

After completing the right decrease, and with the carriage still on the right side, bring the required number of stitches on the left edge out to holding position.

short row decrease 6

Knit 1 row to the left.

short row decrease 7

Take the yarn under the first holding needle, and up between the first and second needles. Be sure the yarn stays above the other holding needles, all the way back to the carriage.

You are ready to make the second decrease on the right side, the same as above. Continue to make decreases on both edges until the required number of stitches is completed. It is best to always knit a row over all the holding position needles to seal the wraps and create a smooth edge.


Short Row Increases

short row skirt

One of the places short row increases are used is at the bottom of a curved edge, such as a skirt or "shirt tail" hem on a sweater or blouse.

short row increase 1

Begin with carriage on the left. Place all needles into hold position (pos D). Return the first group of needles to upper work position (pos C). Knit one row to the right.

short row increase 2

Take the yarn under the first holding needle, and up between the first and second needles. Be sure the yarn stays above the other holding needles, all the way back to the carriage. Lift up the yarn above the carriage before knitting the next row to eliminate slack. Knit back to the left.

short row increase 3

Knit back to the left. Return the next group of needles to pos C.

short row increase 4

Knit one row to the right, take the yarn under the first holding needle, and over the other needles in hold position. Continue in this manner until all required stitches have been decreased.


Tutorial Index


This tutorial was copyrighted and uploaded to the original Clearwater Knits website in 1997. It was updated July 15, 2016.