Coronation Knits: The Short Row Files

Today's post follows quite nicely from the theme of Thursday's post: 'things I learnt from technical editing jobs'. I'm delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for one of latest projects I've worked on, Coronation Knits by Susan Crawford. Susan has kindly offered a copy of Coronation Knits as a prize to one lucky reader, so read to the end for details of how to enter the giveaway.

There are going to be lots of posts about the beautiful designs in the collection, and the influences behind them, so today I thought I would take the opportunity to talk a bit about short rows. Bear with me. If you've not yet come across short rows, fear not, I shall walk you through them. Short rows are exactly what the name suggests - rows (or rounds) where you don't knit all of the stitches. If you work half way through a row, turn and work back to the end, and then carry on as normal, you will have slightly more fabric on one side of your piece. You will also have an unsightly hole at the point where you turned. Short-row shaping is actually very simple - it lets you add more fabric in specific areas and thus can create 3-dimensional shape in your knitting. The trick involves closing up the holes that form when you turn.

© Susan Crawford, 2012

There are three designs in the book that feature short-row shaping: Lion and Unicorn (above), Blue Riband Hat and Retro Jubilee Socks (those are all Ravelry links).

The Lion and Unicorn jumper was my first love in the collection - it was the first design we worked on, and the elegance of its shape and design really appeals to me. The pattern is based on a design from the Special Coronation Edition of Stitchcraft magazine (1953), where the jumper is knitted in two pieces (front and back). The shoulders were shaped with a long series of cast-off rows, thus giving the original design a seam along the top of the shoulder and sleeves. When Susan started looking at updating the jumper (and adding all the additional sizes - the original is 1 size only), she decided that it would work really well knitted in one piece from front to back, with the shoulders shaped instead by short-rows, thus eliminating the seam. Susan isn't a designer who gets rid of seams willy-nilly - in fact, she's a great proponent of the benefit of seams to provide structure and good fit in garments - so when Susan gets rid of a seam, you know that there's an excellent reason for it! The smooth slope of the shoulders and sleeves is just so pleasing - a seam would really mess up that line in my humble opinion.

Lion and Unicorn uses probably the most common short-row turn method: wrap and turn (w&t). There are lots of tutorials for working wrap and turn short rows, so here are a couple to get you started:

Working the wrap and turn itself (a video from Knitting Help)
Knitting the wrap with a stitch (another video from Knitting Help)
Working the wrap and turn and knitting them together on following rows (a photo tutorial from Purl Bee)

© Susan Crawford, 2012

The stylish cloche hat, Blue Riband (above) also uses the wrap and turn technique - this time working in the round. Short-row shaping is used here to add extra length to the back portion of the hat (this same method is often used to add height to the back neck for yoked jumpers). The basic premise is exactly the same as above, it's just that you are working in the round, rather than flat. If you are finding that your wraps aren't completely concealed when you work back over them, try knitting the wrap and stitch together through the back loop.

Which brings us nicely to the Retro Jubilee Socks and the new thing I learnt. These socks feature a new-to-me technique for working the short rows in the heel - the slyo or slipped yarnover method. A quick search on Google revealed only a few references to this technique, and no proper tutorials (although I feel sure there must be some out there somewhere - do leave a link in the comments if you find one and I'll add it here), so I thought it might be handy to walk you through it.

© Susan Crawford

The cuff and leg of these socks are knitted in the round as normal, and in essence the heel is a standard short-row heel, it just uses a different method for closing the holes on turning. The following short video takes you through the process.

The next stop on the blog tour is Hélène Magnússon (The Icelandic Knitter) on Monday 18th June 2012. Make sure to stop by!

If you can't wait to get your hands on a copy of Coronation Knits you can purchase the collection in the following ways:

Print Book for £12.99 or eBook for £10 both available from Susan Crawford.

Susan has kindly donated a copy of Coronation Knits for one lucky reader (there are giveaways on many of the stops on this blog tour, so do check them all out - full details below). To enter the competition, please leave a comment on this blog post, and tell me what your favourite knitting technique is and why (comments not including this information will be excluded from the selection of the winner). One reader will then be chosen at random from the eligible comments on this post. The prize can be sent anywhere in the world. Only one entry per person please - duplicate entries will be deleted. Comments will close automatically exactly 1 week from publication of this post. All prizes will be sent out after the blog tour is complete at the end of July 2012.