Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Scary Short Rows

Now, I have heard short rows discussed at my local knit night. It's one of those techniques, like Entrelac, that I hadn't got round to teaching myself. I didn't know what they were, but from the sounds of things, people don't like them. Like, really don't like them.

So, I avoided patterns with short rows like the plague. This was quite easy, there's so many beautiful patterns you can pick and choose which to make. 

But then, disaster. I found Kate Davies wonderful owls pattern.

And I feel in love. I know it's probably the most famous knitting pattern of the moment (6546 projects on Ravelry last time I checked), and almost everyone I know who knits has made at least one of these snuggly and on-trend jumpers. But I still had to make myself one. I'm confident with cables, and although my first jumper was a complete disaster, I was ready for the challenge. 

My first jumper was made in secret for my boyfriends birthday, only working on it on my lunch hour at work. The gauge was miles off, I used needles that were too big. The jumper, whilst it did look like a jumper, was only suitable for a very fat giant. Gutted.

But, lessons were learnt. I wanted to prove to myself I could do it, and the owls jumper was the pattern that spurred me into action.

I bought my yarn, my extra needles, I had a lovely chat with the girl in my local yarn shop who happened to be wearing her own owls that day. I was excited to get home and start knitting. Then, I read the pattern. Short row shaping needed on neck line. Ahhhhhh!

So, I knitted my body, my sleeves, my owls. I was trying not to think about the short rows that were inevitable. But, I could put it off no long, they had to happen.

And, they are genius! I don't know why people don't like them, perhaps it is just one of those myths that keep putting people off. But it shouldn't! It's such a clever way of shaping a garment, be it bust darts or yokes. 
Short rows are inserted just above cabled owls to help with shaping.

Short rows are rows of knitting where you don't knit to the end of the row, instead you do a clever little technique called the 'wrap and turn' and then knit back the way you've just come. It adds more fabric into sections of your garment, making for a more fitted final piece.

I looked up a number of tutorials, the Purl Bee has a nice one with plenty of photographs. However, I wanted someone to explain it to me, so I completely understood. This jumper was not going to fail!

I ended up doing a lovely free class with Caroll Feller on Craftsy, she told me everything I needed to know. Videos, course notes, everything. In fact it told me more then I needed to know, she explained 4 different ways of doing the wrap and turn so you can work out the best method for you. 

I felt confident after watching the video a few times, and I finished my owls that very same evening!

Finished! Happy face.

Short rows are a useful technique to have in your skill set, don't be frightened by what people tell you. And ask for help if you're stuck. We're lucky to live in this age of Google+ and Youtube and Ravelry, everyone likes to help out (everyone has been stuck before!). 

You'll be glad you learnt it, I promise. And now you have all these new pattern possibilities for you to explore.

Let me know how it goes, and what patterns you use this technique on.

Much love,


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