How to Knit Well – How to Place Patterns Over Short-Row Fabric

First of all, I want to say a big, “Thank You!” to Kay at Mason-Dixon Knitting! Last Sunday, when Jen told me that my Sideway & Merging Ripple shawls were mentioned in Mason-Dixon Knitting, I was totally in shock! Thank you so much, Kay, for your amazing post!

Today, I’m going to share a method for producing a fabulous all-over pattern on a short-row shaped fabric!

Last year, I wrote a short tutorial on short-row in Knitscene Winter 2012 issue and since then, I’ve published quite a few new designs involving short-row technique. So I thought I would write a follow-up article on applied knowledge in Wrap & Turn short-row.

All-over patterning

So why do you need this applied knowledge, when short-row is easily worked on either garter stitch or stocking stitch? Well, wouldn’t it be amazing if this shaped fabric had patterns all over and that you can knit it! After reading this post you’ll be able to do just that! 🙂


(above) Copyright Interweave Press


Examples of patterned short-row fabric are River Slipper (first image above), Osney Shrug (2nd image above), and Baby Cable Yoke Jacket etc. And if you look closely, you’ll see there are two categories of such pattern placements:

(1) A single pattern all over the short-row fabric (fig. 1. A) – e.g. Osney Shrug.
(2) Several different patterns, such as cables, placed next to each other (fig. 1. B) – e.g River Slippers & Baby Cable Yoke Jacket.


To achieve either of the above patterns, you need to satisfy both the row and stitch rules. But before I talk about these two rules, I need to briefly mention one thing.

In short-row, each time you wrap & turn, the fabric on one side grows 2 rows more than the other. For example, consider the following set (also see fig. 2):

cumulative rows worked
1st SR segment Row 1 (RS): Patt to last 6 sts, w&t.
Row 2 (WS): Patt to end.
2nd SR segment Row 3: Patt to 6 sts before the wrap, w&t.
Row 4: Patt to end.
3rd SR segment Row 5: Patt to 6 sts before the wrap, w&t.
Row 6: Patt to end.
Hiding the Wrap(4th SR segment) Row 7: With the RS facing, Patt to end lifting the wrap at the base – then SSK the wrap and its stitch together.
Row 8: Patt to end.


This means that for each set of the short-row, the fabric grows by 2, 4, 6 and 8 rows from left to right. The fact that for each wrap & turn, the one side of the fabric grows by 2 rows seem obvious but is very important to remember this when you place a pattern.

Row Rule

To achieve (1), the easiest option is to choose a pattern with a row repeat of 2 rows. Larger row repeat is possible, but you would need to repeat several short-row sets to reset the pattern to the beginning.

This is because you work the same repeat of the pattern, no matter which segment or set of short-row you are working. Although it is possible to use a pattern with the row repeat of more than 2 rows, it becomes more complex, because the pattern placement will become staggered and you would need to repeat several sets of short-rows to “reset” and return to where you started. I usually avoid it, because working out hundreds of stitches for a garment is complex enough! But just for the purpose of this post, let’s use a pattern with a row repeat of 4 rows.

4-Row repeat

At the end of the first set of short-row, the 1st and 3rd (i.e. odd number) short-row segments will have an incomplete pattern. This is because for each set, the fabric grew by 2 and 6 rows respectively and the row repeat of the chosen pattern is 4. However, the 2nd & 4th (even number) short-row segments will have a pattern completed because the fabric grew by 4 and 8 rows respectively. This means you would need to repeat the whole set once more, to get back to where you have started.

6-Row repeat

Similarly, if you used a pattern that is worked over 6 rows, you would need to repeat the set 3 times and work the different rows of the pattern for each short-row segment to get back to where you started etc. Then, you can apply the above knowledge and place several patterns next to each other over a short-row fabric to achieve (2).

To achieve (2), choose a pattern with a row repeat of the same row number or its divisible fraction to each segment.

The easiest way to do this is to use a pattern that has the row repeat of 2, 4, 6, 8 etc. on each segment of short row. In other words, use a pattern that has the same number, or a divisible fraction of rows, for the segment on which you want to place the pattern.

For example, in the above pattern (also see fig. 2) (i.e. there are 3 wrap & turns in one set and the total number of rows worked per set is 8 rows), you can select patterns that have row repeats of 2, 4, 6 and 8 rows (or 2, 4, 3, 4, or 2, 4, 6, 4, or 2, 2, 2, 2 or 2, 2, 3, 4 etc etc..).

Stitch Rule

Once you know which row repeat of the pattern you can use, you then have to consider how the actual pattern is constructed across the stitch. This is because you have to take the wrapped stitch into account.

The wrapped stitch is not knitted until you want to hide them at the end of the short-row set, where this wrap is lifted from below and worked with the stitch (rows 7 and 8 in the above example). This means that you would need to choose a pattern that has at least one stitch that is unchanged (i.e. a stitch that does not move across e.g. increased, knitted together, or cabled).

Therefore, the best place to put the wrapped stitch for a cabled short-row is the purl stitch between the cables. If you work the Osney Shrug, you will notice that the wrap is placed on a stitch that is not involved in the patter (i.e. not cabled, increased or decreased etc).

No Right or Wrong

The beauty of knitting is that whatever you do, there is no absolute right or wrong! There will always be exceptions and complications to the above rules that I have introduced. Right at this moment, I am designing a horizontal cable yoke garment and I have had to tweak the rule to fit with a different sized garment. One thing to recommend is to make a swatch of the sample when you create a patterned short-row fabric to double check.

So, I hope this article will give you some super ideas for your new designs and create lots of wonderful, creative knitting!

Responses to “How to Knit Well – How to Place Patterns Over Short-Row Fabric”

  1. disha

    fabulous you explained very nicely thank you soo much

    • Kyoko

      Hi Disha!

      Thank you very much for your lovely comment 🙂
      Happy knitting!

  2. What a beautifully written, clear, explanation. Thanks Kyoko. Even a big dullard like me can make sense of Short Rows now (I usually just knit what I am told to knit without really knowing why!). Hope you’re well. xx

    • Kyoko

      Hello Nic!
      Thank you very much for your lovely comment. Hehe!
      I am very well (lots of knitting of course! – we should one day do a ktog). I have a new filofax so I am trying to be an organised human this year lol 😀
      Chat to you soon!

  3. skeindalous

    Is there any chance you will release the Ripple shawl as a stand alone pattern????????

    That would be wonderful.

    • Kyoko

      Thank you for the comment! The pattern will be available at some point but for for a while. Meanwhile, that particular issue has so many amazing designs and it’s worth getting a copy 😀
      If you have any questions, feel free to e-mail me! Happy knitting:)

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