Short-Row Shaping: Learn to “Wrap and Turn”

Delicious Knee Socks by Cosmic PlutoLet's learn to do short rows!

Short rows are becoming a hot topic on Ravelry, so here's a nice, clear tutorial on how to do them.

A "short row" is simply what happens when you work across a row but don't get to the end.

The pattern instructs you to go almost to the end (maybe one or two stitches before), and then turn around and go back.

This creates a domed shape that is good for heels and other curvy parts of the body.

For those of you who have turned a heel before, whether it be the Fleegle heel for your toe-up sock, or a square (heel flap) heel for your top-down sock, you've already done this, on the "turn heel" part of your sock.

However, some socks patterns call for a heel that is made entirely by doing short-rows: there are no increases, no heel flaps, no picking up stitches, nothing!

The short-row heel is even and round-looking, and my favorite part about it that makes it very useful sometimes is that you can easily make the heel in a different color, as in the Delicious Knee Socks by Cosmicpluto Knits!, above.

 The short-row technique is not only used in sock heels, however.

It is used anywhere the designer wants to create a 3D or curved shape, as in the popular Calorimetry headband, the silly Fish Hat (Dead or Alive?), and the gorgeous and ephemeral Whisper Cardigan (left).

The "Wrap and Turn" Prevents A Gap

The key to correctly doing short-rows is knowing how to do the Wrap and Turn (no, it's not a new dance move).

It's a clever way of keeping the stitches close to each other while you are doing short-rows, so that you don't create gaps when you turn around.

Doing short-rows also incorporates picking up and knitting the wraps once you're done with the short-rows, so that they become invisible.

I demonstrate both techniques in the video below:

Video Thumbnail

KNITFreedom - How To Do Short Row Shaping And The "Wrap and Turn"

Let's learn to do short rows! Short rows are becoming a hot topic on Ravelry, so here's a nice, clear tutorial on how to do them. A "short row" is simply what happens when you work across a row but don't get to the end. The pattern instructs you to go almost to the end (maybe one or two stitches bef

Create A Short-Row Heel In Any Sock With This Formula

The following short-row heel formula, from beloved knitter Amy Swanson, shows how to create a heel in ANY sock, using short rows.

Short Row HeelAfter you've cast on and increased for the toe, knit in Stockinette stitch until your work reaches 1.5 inches from the back of your heel.

You may want to stretch the sock a little when you put it on your foot to measure, as you will be wearing it snug and not saggy.

If you are doing Magic Loop, your sock stitches will be divided in half.

Leave one half alone for now (the instep) and work the following steps across the stitches on the other half (the heel needle).

Now, a quick calculation: take note of how many stitches are on your heel needle before you begin the short rows (this would probably be around 28 for a medium size sock with fingering-weight yarn).

Multiply this number by 0.4 and round to the nearest whole number (in our example, 11). Let's call this number A. Now, working back and forth over your heel stitches, begin the heel.

Row 1 [RS]: K to last st, W&T.
Row 2 [WS]: P to last st, W&T.
Row 3 [RS]: K to st before last wrapped st, W&T.
Row 4 [WS]: P to st before last wrapped st, W&T.

Repeat Rows 3 and 4 until (A) sts remain unwrapped between wrapped sts on either side of work. You will be ready to start a RS row.

Note: when wrapping stitches at turning points of short rows which follow, note that stitches will now have two wraps; these stitches will be referred to as double-wrapped stitches.

When working a double-wrapped stitch on a subsequent row, pick up both wraps and work them together with the stitch which had been wrapped.

Row 5 [RS]: K to first wrapped st, k wrapped st, W&T.
Row 6 [WS]: Sl 1, p to first wrapped st, p wrapped st, W&T.
Row 7 [RS]: Sl 1, k to first double-wrapped st, k double-wrapped st, W&T
Row 8 [WS]: Sl 1, p to first double-wrapped st, p double-wrapped st, W&T

Repeat Rows 7 and 8 until one double-wrapped stitch remains at each end of work.
Row 9 [RS]: Sl 1, k to double-wrapped st, k double-wrapped st. Do not turn work.

You should now have the original number of stitches left on your heel needle. Resume working in the round until it is time to do your cuff.

Related Post: Short-Row Shaping II: How To Invisibly Hide Wraps On The Purl Side

Keep Learning:

If you liked this tutorial on short row shaping, post in the comments!

70 thoughts on “Short-Row Shaping: Learn to “Wrap and Turn””

  1. Hi,

    I used to avoid Wrap and Turn patterns at all costs. I found that German Short Rows are an awesome alternative and have been using them ever since. So easy to do and recognize and they’re very neat too.

  2. When you wrap and turn do you increase! It’s a collar on a baby Cardigan the pattern doesn’t say how many stitches I should end up with, driving me crazy, can you advise.

    1. No, when you wrap and turn, you simply switch directions – you are not increasing the number of stitches. Try it on a little swatch for yourself and see!
      I hope this helps :)

      Liat Gat

  3. Hi Liat,

    Your site is the first place I go when I need a video on a new technique. I have found picking up wraps to be tedious. I’ve heard people swear by the German short rows. I’d love to try it on my next wrap and turn project. I’d love to see you do a video of German short rows.


    1. Thank you for being so awesome! I’m presently on leave for personal reasons so I won’t be able to post a video on German short rows for a while but I will most definitely look into it when I can.

      Happy Knitting

  4. Hi Liat,

    I already know how to knit a toe up sock using magic loop (thanks to you and your class) but I also want to be able to knit from the top down but even after watching your videos, I don’t get the part where I need to pick up stitches :-( I tried so hard). I was wondering if there’s other options for me to knit top down without the picking stitches part and using magic loop and if there is, do you have a video that I can watch..the only way I can learn something new is by watching videos.

    Thank you!!!

    You are the best!!

  5. I have religiously followed all of your toe-up sock patterns and love the way you teach. I recently came across instructions where you w/t and when picking up the wraps, you add a wrap to the adjacent stitch, creating the need to pick up a double wrapped stitch the next time. This has been totally frustrating, and I’m wondering why some patterns call for double wraps and others don’t.

    1. Hello Kikukat (I love your name!),

      I’m so glad you like my videos! But I’m sorry you’re super-frustrated. Can you post a link to these double-wrap instructions? Are you saying that I teach that somewhere? Because it doesn’t sound familiar to me. As far as I know, you can always just use the regular picking-up-wraps technique I teach.


  6. Dear Liat,
    Greetings from Ireland.
    I am amazed that you take the time to post your wonderfully clear videos, so that lots of people can learn from your vast knowledge of everything to do with knitting.

  7. I just watched your video on short rows and would love to get a book on this as it is something that I have never done although I am a very experienced knitter. I have started knitting again after a long break and am doing socks and love knitting them.

  8. Hi…
    I really like this video however the pattern I’m working on is in garter stitch and I’ve heard that when you W&T and “knit” back I’m confused. My instructions say”

    “Knit to wrapped st, knit wrap tog with wrapped st”….I understand the knit to part but what in the world does the second half mean? (knit wrap tog with wrapped st). Is it possibly a typo?

    Thanks for any help you can provide. Oh, this is a shawl.


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