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Japanese short rows in the round


A few weeks ago, there was a post on knitting asking about doing short rows in the round. The poster was trying to follow the Aubrey DoodlePants longies pattern, and was having problems with the short rows. One side was looking great, the other was looking not-so-great.

She mentioned wanting to try the Japanese short row technique (described quite nicely by Nona), which, again, was fine for one side, but not the other.

One commenter posted a link to the jmfknits instructions for short rows in the round.

I looked and thought and reread the explaiKnit post on why left-leaning decreases just aren't as pretty as right leaning ones.

I realized that tugging on the safety pin to get that loop onto the needle tightens up the stitches next to it. But there's only so much tightening that can be done when those stitches are still on the needle.

So I bought circular needles and variegated wool, and swatched.

Here's what I came up with:



  • You have stitch markers to mark where the short row stops and starts. For the sake of clarity, I'll refer to them as marker 1 and marker 2.

  • When you come up to the first stitch marker (marker 1), slip the last stitch before the marker purlwise. **This is part one of Planned Forgetfulness.**

  • Slip the marker, and continue knitting to the second marker (marker 2).

  • Turn the work.

  • Put a safety pin on the working yarn.

  • Slip the first stitch on the left needle purlwise.

  • Knit the next stitch - the safety pin is now anchored between the stitch you slipped and the one you just knit.

  • Knit back to marker 1.

  • Oh, look. You slipped a stitch instead of knitting it. Well, that's a mistake. Let's fix it now. (A crochet hook comes in handy, but however you choose to do this is fine.) **This is where we remedy the first bit of Planned Forgetfulness**

    Okay... Where were we? Oh yes.

  • Turn the work.

  • Put another safety pin on the working yarn.

  • Slip the first stitch on the left needle purlwise.

  • Knit the next stitch - the safety pin is now anchored between the stitch you slipped and the one you just knit.

  • Knit to marker 2, and slip the marker.

  • Grab the safety pin, and pop that loop onto the left needle. (Phrasing from Nona!)

  • Knit the two stitches (the first stitch after marker 2, and the newly un-safety-pinned loop) together.

  • Knit around to marker 1 and slip the marker. **Part two of Planned Forgetfulness**

  • Knit 5 or 6 stitches.

    Errrrr... Well, crud. We forgot to pop the loop up for this side.

  • Slip those 5 or 6 stitches back onto the left needle, purlwise. (Do NOT tink them back. We want the slackness that comes from having the stitches off the needle.)

  • Slip the marker.

  • Now, you have to make a decision. Do you want to use a crochet hook or not? I found that the hook was easier, but if you want to use just your needles, that's fine too.

    Crochet hook version:

    • Grab your trusty crochet hook, and insert it into the stitch under the first stitch on your right needle.

    • Drop that stitch off your right needle.

    • Grab the safety pin, and pop the loop onto the crochet hook. (The tricky part here is that you want the dropped stitch not to be trapped between the two loops on the hook.)

    • Hook the dropped stitch through the two loops.

    • Replace the dropped stitch onto the right needle.


    Knitting needle version:

    • Insert the left needle into the stitch below the first stitch on the right needle.

    • Drop the first stitch off the right needle, and wiggle the strand out. (Yes, this is the same stitch that we forgot to knit in the first step. Poor thing is being so abused!)

    • Grab the safety pin, and pop the loop onto the left needle. (The tricky part here is that you want the dropped stitch not to be trapped between the two loops you've just put onto the left needle.)

    • Knit the two stitches together, using the yarn from the dropped stitch. (Alternatively, put the dropped stitch on the right needle, the safety pin loop on the left, knit the loop, and pass the dropped stitch over.)

    • Correct the orientation of this new stitch the right needle. (Mine were all ending up with leading leg in back.)


    **And now we've remedied the second bit of Planned Forgetfulness**

  • Slip the marker and the 5 or 6 stitches onto the right needle, purlwise.

  • Carry on.

-----------------------

As I was trying to figure this out, I kept thinking of sarakate's explaiknit post about how ssk/skp aren't as neat as k2tog, and I realized that the same basic factor is in play. With the first part of the short row, you're working in a way that takes up the slack. When you pull on the safety pin, you're tightening the stitches that just came off the left needle. If you try to do the same thing on the other one, you can't, because the slack isn't there yet. The stitches it's trying to tighten are still on the needle. So, knit those stitches, slip them back, and then tighten up the stitches that are no longer directly on the needle.

That's also why I suggest slipping the stitch just before the first marker. When that is repaired, it takes up the slack from the stitches nearby.

It's a fair amount of fiddling and slipping stitches back and forth, but the result is a short row that's equally unobtrusive on both ends.

The second bit of Planned Forgetfulness could also be remedied after another full round, but honestly? I'm pretty sure I would forget for real and for true at that point, and then wonder several rows later why I have all those safety pins on that side of the short rows.

In the meantime, I have some pretty yarn and 16"/40cm circs. I'm feeling the strongest urge to make a hat. Perhaps I'll even use short rows.

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