Substituting German Short-Rows for Wrap-and-Turn Short-Rows

German short-rows have become increasingly common as a short-row knitting technique. Their popularity is understandable: they are simple to execute and they produce excellent results. However, knitters who substitute German short-rows for wrap-and-turn short-rows discover that in some situations, direct substitution can cause offset shaping. In this article, we’ll discuss why direct substitution can be problematic, how to successfully substitute German short-rows for wrap-and-turn short-rows, and when substitution is not recommended.

First, a quick review of the German short-row method. (Note: German short-rows are worked the same way on both right-side and wrong-side rows.)

• Work to the turning point and turn.
• Move the working yarn to the front if it’s not there already.
• Slip the first stitch purlwise (Photo 1) and pull the working yarn over the needle to create a double stitch (Photo 2).
• Reposition the yarn as needed: move it to the front to purl the next stitch or move it to the back to knit the next stitch.
• Later, when working the double stitch on a longer row, work it as a single stitch (Photo 3).

German short-rows

Comparing wrap-and-turn short-rows to German short-rows

Charts 1 and 2 below show what short-row shoulder shaping might look like using both the wrap-and-turn method and the German method. The sample charts are worked over 25 stitches, with the short-row turns 5 stitches apart. For both short-row methods, the first two set-up rows are established based on working a certain number of stitches, given either as a number of stitches from the end of the row (e.g., “Work to last 5 sts”) or a specifi c stitch count (e.g., “Work 20 sts”). Subsequent short-row instructions are generally given relative to the wrap or double stitch from a previous row, but these instructions will be different for each method because of the location of the wrap or double stitch relative to the short-row turn.

For example, with the wrap-and-turn method, the wrapped stitch is slipped but not worked, so it isn’t technically part of the short-row. With the German method, the stitch in the row below the double stitch is the last stitch worked on the previous short-row, so it is included in the short-row stitch count.

Why isn’t the double stitch placed where the wrap would be?

The purpose of a wrap or double stitch is to eliminate the gap and selvedge-stitch bump that is created when the work is turned. However, wrap-and-turn short-rows and German short-rows eliminate this bump in different ways and produce “landmarks” in different locations relative to the turning point. For wrap-and-turn short-rows, the landmark is the wrapped stitch, which is past the turning point. For German short-rows, the landmark is the double stitch, which is before the turning point. So for both methods, the turning points are in the same locations but the landmarks are not. Because the landmark’s location relative to the turning point is slightly different for the two methods, some adjustments need to be made to the directions when you substitute German short-rows for wrap-and-turn short-rows.

Progressively shorter short-rows for both methods

Charts 1 and 2 show what short-row shaping for each method might look like when the rows get progressively shorter. Written instructions for progressively shorter short-rows for each method might look like this:

Wrap-and-Turn Method

Short-row 1 (RS) Knit to last 5 sts, wrap next st, turn.
Short-row 2 (WS) Purl to last 5 sts, wrap next st, turn.
Short-row 3 Knit to 5 sts before wrapped st, wrap next st, turn.
Short-row 4 Purl to 5 sts before wrapped st, wrap next st, turn.
Short-row 5 Knit to end, working wraps tog with wrapped sts.
Next row (WS) Purl to end, working wraps tog with wrapped sts.

German short-rows

German Method:

Short-row 1 (RS) Knit to last 5 sts, turn.
Short-row 2 (WS) Make double st, purl to last 5 sts, turn.
Short-row 3 Make double st, knit to 4 sts before double st, turn.
Short-row 4 Make double st, purl to 4 sts before double st, turn.
Short-row 5 Make double st, knit to end, working double sts as single sts.
Next row Purl to end, working double sts as single sts.

German short-rows

Note that when you substitute German short-rows for wrap-and- turn short-rows on progressively shorter short-rows, you’ll need to work one fewer stitch before the previous double stitch than called for in the directions for wrap-and-turn short-rows.

Progressively longer short-rows for both methods

Charts 3 and 4 show what short-row shaping for each method might look like when the rows get progressively longer. Written instructions for progressively longer short-rows for each method might look like this:

Wrap-and-Turn Method:

Short-row 1 (RS) K15, wrap next st, turn.
Short-row 2 (WS) P5, wrap next st, turn.
Short-row 3 Knit to wrapped st, knit wrap tog with wrapped st, k4, wrap next st, turn.
Short-row 4 Purl to wrapped st, purl wrap tog with wrapped st, p4, wrap next st, turn.
Short-row 5 Knit to end, working wrap tog with wrapped st.
Next row Purl to end, working wrap tog with wrapped st.

German short-rows

German Method:

Short-row 1 (RS) K15, turn.
Short-row 2 (WS) Make double st, p4, turn.
Short-row 3 Make double st, knit to double st, work double st as single st, k5, turn.
Short-row 4 Make double st, purl to double st, work double st as single st, p5, turn.
Short-row 5 Make double st, knit to end, working double st as single st.
Next row Purl to end, working double st as single st.

German short-rows

Because the first stitch of Short-row 2 is used to make a double stitch, only four purl stitches are worked before the turn. On subsequent short-rows, one more stitch is worked before the turn for German short-rows than for wrap-and-turn short-rows to account for the double stitch on the following row.

When not to use German short-rows

In a few situations, it’s inadvisable to substitute German short-rows for wrap-and-turn short-rows. For example, if a pattern calls for stacked short-rows where the same stitch will be wrapped more than once, such as with certain types of short-row sock heels, using German short-rows and making a double-double stitch gets to be a bit untidy. Working a few rounds even between the first and second set of short-rows can help alleviate this problem. Another place not to substitute German short-rows is in patterns where the wrap isn’t picked up and is left in the fabric as a decorative element.

With an understanding of how to substitute German short-rows for wrap-and-turn short-rows, you are ready to use this handy technique successfully.


German short-rows and beyond in the Interweave store…

2 Comments

  1. Monika R at 1:35 pm January 24, 2018

    The article refers to Chart 1 & 2, but there are only charts 2, 3, and 4 – Chart 1 is missing?

    • Jenn at 1:43 pm January 24, 2018

      Sorry, Monika! Our oversight… Chart 1 has now been included. And thank you! – Jenn

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