How to Use Short Rows for Shoulder and Neck Shaping

Sooo….my Fall Vest that I started knitting back in September? Yeah, well, I just recently finished it. I might have to to re-name it since it’s, you know, almost Spring now.

Tabard Vest knitting

The pattern is Tabard Vest, by Lion Brand Yarns. The front and back are worked, then seamed together at the shoulders. Collar and side button bands are then added at the end.

The pattern is beautiful and well-written, but of course, I had to make modifications. I changed up the collar, and worked and attached the pocket as I went (rather than seaming it onto the vest).  But let’s talk about how I shaped the shoulders and the back neck.

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Shaping with Stair Steps

For the shoulder shaping, the pattern calls for binding off stitches at the end of each row for a stair-step look. Once the shoulders are bound off, the pattern instructs to bind off stitches at each end of the neck to create a dip.

Stair step bind off

After the stitches are bound off, the front and back can be seamed together.

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Shaping with Short Rows Instead

Short rows can be used for So. Many. Things. Carol Feller’s book, Short Row Knits: A Master Workshop With 20 Learn-As-You-Knit Projects is an amazing resource for all things short rows.  Feller describes in great detail the different types of short rows as well as the many techniques they are used for.

Short rows are utilized for creating 3D shapes, turning a sock heel, and of course, for garment shaping.

Subbing short rows for stair steps in a pattern is easy. Instead of binding off stitches at the beginning of each row, instead, knit to the END of the row, stopping short of the number of stitches the pattern calls to bind off.

For example, if the pattern calls for binding off 3 stitches at the beginning of the row, instead, work to three stitches before the end of the row, and work a wrap & turn. Keep working this method until you end up with the same number of rows the pattern calls for.

My Tabard Vest Example

The following sample shows how I shaped the shoulders and neck of my Fall Vest, using the Small size of the Tabard Vest.

I started with 93 stitches, which is the number of stitches on your needles in the pattern before shoulder shaping. Before beginning, I marked off the center 57 stitches and the center 19 stitches. The center 57 stitches are for neck shaping and the outer 18 stitches on each side are for the shoulder shaping.

For shoulder shaping, the pattern instructs to bind off 3 stitches at the beginning of each row for 12 rows (6 right side rows and 6 wrong side rows).

My method:

Knit across to last 3 stitches, then wrap & turn.

Short Rows knitting

Work across the wrong side to last 3 stitches and wrap & turn.

Short Rows Wrap & Turn

On the next right side row, knit across the last 6 stitches; wrap & turn.

Short Rows Wrap & Turn

Continue in this manner until you have 10 short rows, with 15 stitches on each side with every 3rd stitch wrapped:

short rows

Rather than working the last 2 shoulder short rows, THEN working the neck short rows, I worked the neck shaping while I was in the middle of the last set of shoulder rows rows. Sort of like short rows within a short row. 🙂

Short Row Neck Shaping

The neck shaping is worked over the center 57 stitches. The center 19 stitches are the ones that are bound off in the pattern to make the dip in the neck.

There are 4 markers. From left to right on the right side, let’s call these markers A, B, C and D.

Short Rows
Neck shaping is worked between Markers A and D

Short rows are first made between Markers A and B, then between Markers C and D as follows:

Right side: Knit across to 3 stitches before Marker A, wrap & turn.

Short Rows

Wrong side: Purl across to 5 stitches before marker B (since the pattern called for binding off 5 stitches at neck edge); wrap & turn.

Right side:  Knit across to 6 stitches before marker A, wrap & turn.

This was for the left side of the neck. The right side was worked similarly as follows:

Wrong side: Purl to 3 stitches to Marker D, wrap & turn. (As you purl to the other side of the neck, pick up the wrap that is 5 stitches before Marker B and purl it with its stitch.)

Right side: Knit to 5 stitches before Marker C, wrap & turn.

Wrong side: Purl to 6 stitches before Marker D, wrap & turn.

Now that the neck shaping has been worked, the last set of shoulder short rows can be completed. Knit to Marker A (which is 18 stitches from the end), picking up wraps and working them with their stitches; wrap & turn (you can remove the marker also):

Purl back to Marker D, again picking up wraps; wrap & turn.

Finally, the last step is to knit back all the way to the end, while picking up all wraps on the left shoulder, then purl back to the other end, again picking up all wraps on the right shoulder.

What results is a smooth curve that can either be bound off or left with live stitches.

On my vest, I left my stitches live and used the 3 needle bind off to join the  front and back shoulders. I also used the live neck stitches to add the collar.

Tabard Vest

What do you think about this shaping method? It can be used on pretty much any pattern that calls for binding off stitches for shoulder and neck shaping. Try it out!

Happy short-rowing!

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My Favorite Knitting Books (Part 1)

Knitting and books. Books and knitting. Love them both, but you know what really winds my skeins? Knitting books.

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I tried narrowing it down, but there are Just. So. Many. Great ones. So I’ll begin with 5 (plus a bonus one). For now. I will add more in future posts.

The following is a pretty eclectic list, with some books containing patterns, and others containing tutorials or stitch patterns, or a combination of everything. Some are old. Some are newer(ish). All are for the adventurous knitter.

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Short Row Knits: A Master Workshop With 20 Learn-As-You-Knit Projects

Short Row Knits
Short Row Knits: A Master Workshop with 20 Learn-As-You-Knit Projects, by Carol Feller

Short rows are some serious voodoo. They can take an angular, flat piece of knitting and transform it into something curvy and 3-dimensional. They can raise sweater necklines, provide smooth shaping, construct sock toes or heels, or form your very own stuffed Octo-buddy.

Carol Feller’s book describes in great detail several methods of knitting short rows, including wrap & turn, German short rows, and Japanese short rows. Additionally, patterns are provided to try out all these cool techniques. My favorites are my Frio hat and Claro socks.

I’ve also used short row techniques to shape the shoulders of myLion Brand Tabard Vest. (Instructions in a future post.) The pattern calls for binding off shoulder stitches; rather, I used short rows to give them a smooth curvy shape in order to make it easier to seam the front and back together.

Find the book here.

Knitting Brioche: The Essential Guide to the Brioche Stitch

Knitting Brioche: The Essential Guide to the Brioche Stitch, by Nancy Marchant

Nancy Marchant’s book is a must-have for anyone who loves the Brioche Stitch. She presents a brief history of the technique (if you’re into that), and clear, straightforward explanations of the terminology and methods. Helpful pictures of each step make it simple to follow along, and in no time, you be a pro at the basic stitch.

Afterwards, you’ll be able to take it up a notch with knitting brioche with two colors and increases and decreases.

Stanton Brioche Stitch
Stanton Brioche Stitch on Eira Shawl

However, my favorite part of the book is the Stitchionary. So. Many. Variations. I’ve included one (the Stanton Brioche Stitch) in my Eira Shawl.

Find the book here.

Bonus: Knitting Fresh Brioche: Creating Two-Color Twists & Turns

Once you’ve exhausted the Stitchionary of the first book, check out Marchant’s fresh variations made with increases, decreases, yarn-overs, and more. Seriously, the possibilities are endless with this entertaining stitch.

Find it at here.

Knitting from the Top

Knitting from the top
Knitting from the top, by Barbara Walker

This oldie-but-goodie from Barbara Walker is less a pattern book, and more a coffee date with a friend. Don’t be turned off by the cover. (Umm, the 70’s called…) You won’t find any line by line instructions here. What you will find, however, is Barbara’s quirky and entertaining style of writing explaining how to knit almost any garment from the top down. All you need to do is bring your yarn, needles, gauge (and maybe a calculator).

Find it at Amazon here.

New Pathways for Sock Knitters

New Pathways for Sock Knitters
New Pathways for Sock Knitters Book One, by Cat Bordhi

You think there are only a handful of ways to construct socks? Well, think again. Cat Bordhi takes the typical toe-up sock with short row heel, or cuff-down sock with heel flap and takes them to the next level. Like, to several new levels. A heel flap on the bottom of the foot or gusset shaping in atypical areas are just the beginning.

Patterns for baby socks representing each technique are included (for a quick knit to try them out), so if you’ve got tiny feet to knit for, even better.

I knit the Rushing Rivulet Socks in the book, constructed with the Riverbed Architecture, and they are some of the best fitting socks I own.

As an avid sock knitter, I know we all are passionate about our favorite method of constructing socks. Mine happens to be cuff-down. But check out this book for some crazy varieties on your favorite method.

Find it at here.

Reversible Two-Color Knitting

Reversible Two-Color Knitting
Reversible Two-Color Knitting, by Jane Neighbors

With this obscure and currently out-of-print book, you can create and design your own two-color reversible knitting patterns. Written by Jane Neighbors, it was published in 1974 and consists mostly of stitch patterns that are written out (no charts) for two-color knitting that looks similar on both sides, or both sides are attractive/interesting. There are a few patterns for items like blankets or sweaters for getting you started though.

Techniques included in the book consist of simple reversibles, chain patterns, and what is known today as double knitting.

While the book itself is not particularly attractive (most photos are in black/white), the stitch patterns are quite fun and can be used in a variety of ways. I’ve used a couple of them in my Joy Comes in the Morning and Where Feet May Fail Shawls.

Find it at here.

 

Well, there ya ago. Some of my favorite challenging pattern and technique books to provide a much needed kick-in-the-creative-pants.

What are your favorite knitting books?

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Serein Socks – A Free Knitting Pattern

Hey, how goes it, Crafters? As you may know, socks are my all-time favorite item to knit. Well, let me introduce you to my newest snugly feet wraps: Serein Socks.

Serein socks knitting

My usual method of madness for socks follows a cuff-to-toe pathway, with a heel flap and turn. But this time, I decided on the reverse. You know, to change it up a little. But mostly because I thought the stitch pattern would look better turned right-side-up.

Stitch pattern

Speaking of the stitch pattern, check it out.

I modified a stitch pattern that I found on the interwebs. The original was a video where the pattern was worked flat, and I had a to figure out how to convert it to the round. I had a few challenges. First, the video was in Russian. And the knitting itself was different than I’m used to because the style, stitch mount, and other things were different.

And, I really want to learn Russian. Seriously. I love how it sounds.

The pattern is a relatively simple 4-round repeat. The first two rounds consist of only knits and purls. The third round contains a stitch that takes 3 stitches and knits them through the back loop, while adding a Yarn Over and another stitch. Here are the pics:

Stitch 1
Knit 3 through the back loop, but leave stitches on needle.
Stitch 2
Yarn Over
Serein Socks Stitch 3
Knit first stitch on left needle through the back loop.
Serein Socks Stitch 4
Three new stitches after slipping original ones off left needle.

And a short vid:

IMG_7077[1]

Finally, the 4th round includes a simple right cross cable.

Heel Turn and Flap

This is my first toe-up design with a heel flap. If you don’t enjoy picking up stitches, this is the way to go.

Serein Socks Heel Flap
How pretty is this heel flap?

Other Stuff

I decided to incorporate a couple of other of my favorite techniques in this pattern.

Each Serein Sock begins with Judy’s Magic Cast-On. You certainly don’t have to begin with this; use whatever method you usually use for your socks. Maybe you prefer a Turkish Cast-On or a Short Row toe.

For the final cuff Bind-Off, I used Jeny’s Surprisingly Stretchy Bind-Off. This method is great for keeping the top of your sock from cutting off circulation to your foot. Again, feel free to use your favorite method.

Download the pattern here: Serein Socks

I truly had a ton of fun designing these. While I think that the cuff-down construction will always be my favorite, this was an unique challenge and of course, increasing my knitting skills is always a bonus. I hope to do more toe-up socks soon.

Please, if you enjoy this pattern, share it or let me know! I haven’t had it tested, so let me know if you find any errors or contact me with any questions or comments.

Happy sock knitting!

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Aeonian Cowl – A Free Knitting Pattern

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Color combination is my knitting jam. I also like interesting stitch patterns. Which is why I was so intrigued with this post from Fringe Association.

Aeonian Cowl knitting

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The FA post is several years old, but since I first came across it, I’ve wanted to recreate the pattern. After some trial and error, I came up with something that at least resembles it.

Aeonain cowl

Using the stitch pattern, I created Aeonian Cowl. I thought a cowl would be the perfect project, because have you looked outside lately here in the Seattle area?

Snowy trail
Seattle snow, you’re beautiful, but you can stop now.

The Two Stitch Patterns

Important: Before you start knitting, read the section after the second video below.

Aeonian Cowl uses two stitch patterns; a knit section and a purl section that incorporate two strands in two different ways.

Aeonian Cowl

Purl Sections

The purl sections form the space between the diamonds. The stitches are made with the Contrasting Color (blue) while the Main Color (white) is “anchored” in each purl stitch. Here’s how it’s done:

At the beginning of each purl section, the Contrasting Color will be in the front of the work. Leave it there.

purl section

Bring the Main Color to the front and to the left of the Contrasting Color.

purl section

purl section

The Main Color will stay in front for the purl section, but will be “caught” in each purl stitch to anchor it down, as follows:

While holding the Main Color out of the way, purl the first stitch.

purl section

purl section

For the second stitch (and every even stitch in the purl section), when you insert your needle into the stitch purlwise, place the Main Color over the right needle before purling the stitch.

purl section

Alternate these two steps. You can see that the Main Color is being trapped by the Contrasting Color purl stitches.

purl section

When you get to the end of the purl section, without twisting the yarns, place the Main Color to the back.

purl section

Video:

 

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Knit Sections

The knit sections form the diamond shapes.  The knit stitches are done with the Main Color (white) while weaving the Contrasting Color (blue) through. Here is how it’s done:

At the beginning of each knit section, the Contrasting Color will be in the front of the work, and the Main Color will be in the back.

Leave the Contrasting Color in front while knitting the first knit section stitch.

Aeonian Cowl knit section

Place the Contrasting Color in the back of the work, then knit the second stitch.

Aeonian Cowl knit section

Continue this method of weaving the Contrasting Color back and forth while knitting.

Note that the the Contrasting Color will be in the front for each first and last stitch of each knit section.
Video:

 

 

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This is extremely important. I mean it, read this before starting.

The weaving of the contrasting color in the knit sections creates almost non-existent horizontal stretch. That’s why it’s extremely important, when switching between knit and purl sections, to spread out your stitches on your right needle as much as you can. Kind of like this:

Aeonian Cowl

Seriously. Pull and stretch out those knit stitches while allowing the Contrasting Color strand to stretch between the knit stitches. If you don’t, you’ll get something like the bottom cowl in this picture:

Aeonian Cowl

You can see that the diamond shapes are distorted and the ends of the cowl sort of bow inward. I tried blocking it into shape, but of course a strand of yarn can only stretch so far (which is not very, in this case).

You may have a similar issue, but to a lesser extent, in the purl sections, so just believe me, take your time, and stretch out your stitches after completing each section. Especially the knit sections. I really can’t stress this enough. You’ve been warned, LOL.

Aeonian Cowl Pattern

Size and Gauge

Cowl is approximately 28 inches in circumference. Make it longer or shorter by adding or subtracting chart repeats.

Gauge: 4 stitches/inch

Materials

100 yards of Main Color. I used Quince & Co. Owl in Natural.

80 yards of Contrasting Color. I used Quince and Co. Owl in Barents Sea.

Size US7 and US9 24-inch length circular needles

Stitch marker

Method

Using smaller needles, cast on 112 stitches. Work 4 rounds of 1×1 ribbing.

Switch to larger needles. Work chart one time with a total of eight chart repeats per round.

Switch to smaller needles. Work 4 rounds of 1×1 ribbing.

Cast off loosely, weave in ends and block.

Aeonian Cowl chart

 

Purl across with Contrasting Color, anchoring Main Color in stitches as shown above.

Knit with Main Color while holding Contrasting Color in front of work as shown above.

Knit with Main Color while holding Contrasting Color in back of work as shown above.

Another Version

Using Brooklyn Tweed’s Shelter, I created the green and brown  variation shown above.

 

 

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The pattern is similar to the other one. Cast on 110 stitches though, and work 5 repeats of each round of the chart.

Aeonian Cowl chart

Check out the “wrong” side:

Aeonian Cowl wrong side

Fun, right?

I haven’t decided which color combo I like better. More contrast or less contrast between the colors? What do you think?

UPDATE: Downloadable .pdf here: Aeonian Cowl

Have a great day, and I’d be ever so grateful for your shares if you like it!

Pattern has only been tested by me. Please feel free to contact me here or at Ravelry with any questions or comments.

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Solstice Chunky Hat Pattern with Pom-Pom

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Ah, Autumn, my favorite time of year, I adore you so much. Rain (#pluviophile), crunchy leaves, squashes, sweet potatoes, sweaters, NFL, crunchy leaves, Thanksgiving.

Solstice chunky hat

Oh yeah, and loads of knitting. What’s not to love?

(And by the way, it’s not too early to look forward to Christmas too. My local radio station started playing Christmas music this week and I literally burst into JOYFUL TEARS. Please don’t throw things at me.)

After admiring all the chunky hat beauties on Instagram, I decided I needed one. Or maybe two. Or an entire herd. (And it’s more weather-appropriate than last year’s Autumn knit.)

chunky hat

The stitch pattern is an easy 4-round repeat, so your beanie can be made as short or as long as you want. See the end of pattern for instructions.

Enjoy!

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Pattern

Click here to download: Solstice Beanie

Sizes and Gauge

Small (22 inch), Med/Large (23 inch)

Gauge: 1 inch = 2 stitches

Materials

One skein of Super Bulky yarn. I used Malabrigo Rasta for the Small size and Lion Brand Wool-Ease Thick & Quick for the Med/Large size.

Sizes US11 and US15 double pointed needles OR 16-inch circular needle OR long circular needles for Magic Loop; or sizes needed to obtain gauge.

Stitch marker

Abbreviations

K – Knit

YO – Yarn Over

Kfb – Knit front and back

Sl 1 – Slip one stitch knit-wise

Psso – Pass Slipped Stitch over

solstice chunky hat

Method

Using smaller needle, cast on 44 (46) sts. Join for working in the round, and place marker for beginning-of-round. Work in 1×1 rib for 4 rounds.

Switch to larger needles.

For small size: K5, *Kfb, K10. Repeat from * to last 6 sts, Kfb, K5. (48 sts)

For Med/Large size: K2, *Kfb, K3, Kfb, K4. Repeat from * to last 8 sts, Kfb, K3, Kfb, K3. (56 sts)

K 1 round even.

4-round Stitch Pattern

Round 1: K1, Sl1, K2, psso. Repeat to end.

Round 2: K1, YO, K2. Repeat to end.

Round 3: Sl1, K2, psso, K1. Repeat to end.

Round 4: K2, YO, K1. Repeat to end.

Work Rounds 1-4 a total of 3(4) times.

Work another Round 1.

Decreases

1: *K1, YO, K3, YO, K2tog. Repeat from * to end.

2: *Sl1, K2, psso, K1, Sl1, K2, psso. Repeat from * to end.

3: *K2tog, YO, K3. Repeat from * to end.

4: *Sl1, K2, psso, K2. Repeat from * to end.

5: *K2, SSK. Repeat from *  to end

6: K one round even.

7: *SSK, K. Repeat from * to end.

8: SSK. Repeat to end.

Cut yarn and thread it through live stitches, pulling tight to close top of beanie.

Weave in ends and slap on a pom-pom. Because a chunky hat isn’t really finished without one.

I had a lot of fun (and frustration, lol) knitting the poms for these hats. I’ll show you how in my next post.

More Sizes

This pattern is easily adjusted to make any size. Simply cast on an even number of stitches with the smaller needle and work desired number of rounds of 1×1 ribbing. Switch to larger needles and knit around while increasing evenly to a multiple of 8 stitches. Knit an even round, then begin the 4-round stitch pattern, ending with a round 1 or 3.

If ending with a Round 1, use the decreases from above. If ending with a Round 3, use the following set of decreases:

1:  *K2tog, YO, K3, YO, K1. Repeat from * to end.

2: *Sl1, K2, psso, K1, Sl1, K2, psso. Repeat from * to end.

3: *K3, YO, K2tog. Repeat from * to end.

4: *K2, Sl1, K2, psso. Repeat from * to end.

5: *SSK, K2. Repeat from * to end.

6: K one round even.

7: *K1, SSK. Repeat from * to end.

Cut yarn and thread it through live stitches, pulling tight to close top of beanie. And don’t forget your pom….yeah, you already know that.

Enjoy!

Please feel free to contact me with any questions, comments, or your favorite butternut squash recipe.

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