Short rows are this little magic thing that you can do in hand knitting where you knit a row over only some of the stitches to create a piece of fabric that is longer in one part than in another, and also when coordinated correctly a sequence of short rows can cause the fabric to curve and bend. It's makes things possible in hand knitting that aren't at all possible using other textile process, because you're creating a piece of fabric that is a custom shape in three dimensions. Short rows appear for lots of reasons: dropping the bottom edge of the sweater, sloping the shoulders of a sweater, forming a top-down-sleeve cap, or to turn a sock heel, for example.
The problem with short rows, is that it can be quite difficult to hide them in an existing fabric, because there's a little gap or hole where the short row starts. Solving this little problem has given rise to an entire discipline of knitting techniques. Most of the time, after knitting a short row, you "wrap" the next stitch, which you slip and move the yearn around, as the basis of a transition. This anchors the yarn from the short row, and helps reduces an awkward effect on the stitches that you knit.
The problem is that the "wrap" is (often) visiable in your knitting, so that's in ideal. The options are:
- in garter stitch the best thing to do is to just ignore the wrap. If the tension of the wrap itself is right, the wrap doesn't look out of place, and you can just ignore it.
- most of the time you want to "process" the wraps, by picking up the wrap and
knitting it together with the (now formerly) wrapped stitch. Getting the
tension on this is quite hard, though you can twist the wrap or clean things
up in the next row most of the time. If you're having trouble with wrapping:
- consider wrapping in the other direction. So that you move the yarn to the front of the piece before or after slipping the stitch, depending on what you're presently doing. In my practice, wrapping front to back is slightly tighter than wrapping back to front, but I think this depends on your hands a bit.
- rather than wrapping the stitch, a small yarn over can serve the same purpose, as long as you're sure to knit the yarn over with the stitch that was not part of the short row. Use this if your wraps are too tight.
- for sock heels, and in some other situations, you can skip the wrap, but slip the first stitch of the short row and decease the short sliped stitch into the next (non-short row) stitch on the next row. This works only in situations where you can stand to decrease 1 stitch for every short row turn.
- Some folks enjoy not processing the wraps, in situations where you're knitting a sleeve cap off from the shoulder down in a sweater. You can see the wraps, but because you're doing lots of sequential short rows, it looks like a pattern.