Big Jimmy Jab knitalong week 1 – German short rows

One of the things I really love about the Big Jimmy Jab jumper is how sneakily simple it is.

I say “sneakily”, because it looks like it’s going to be a bit of a fancy knit, what with that colourwork yoke and all. I’ll talk soon about how the colourwork is actually infinitely easier than it looks, but today, in the very first week of the knitalong, I’m going to talk about German short rows.

I’ve talked about German short rows before, see because I absolutely love them. I use them all the bloomin’ time, for all sorts of things. But in the Big Jimmy Jab, they’ve got a very simple purpose. And they appear early on in the knitting, which is why I’m talking about them now.

Short rows sound scary. What are they?

What short rows are is, in fact, not at all scary. The simplest way to explain them is this:

Short rows are where you only knit part of a row, before turning your work and knitting back the other way.

Not scary, see? You have to do a little bit of jiggery-pokery after you turn your work, but it’s the easiest jiggery-pokery you’ll ever do.

The point of that jiggery-pokery? It stops a hole forming when you go back to knitting across the full width of your work.

How do you work a German short row?

Handily, I’ve already done a little video tutorial on YouTube showing exactly how to work German short rows. So, when you get to that point in the Big Jimmy Jab pattern, watch it and you’ll know exactly what to do.

Plus the video features our dear old cat Matilda. So if I can’t entice you with that then…well. I’m not sure we can be friends.

What do the German short rows do in the Big Jimmy Jab?

They serve a very simple purpose – and one that you’ll find in a lot of sweater designs. Working these short rows at the back of the neckline raises that back neckline a bit.

Take a look at the start of my Big Jimmy Jab in the photo above. See how the circle of knitting is a bit thicker at the top than the bottom? That’s because of the short rows. They’ve added a lovely little wedge of extra fabric at the back of the neck.

And that wedge of fabric may seem unimportant, but it makes a big difference to the fit of your jumper. It has the effect of of creating a bit of a slope to the neckline, so it’s not coming up too high at the front and getting a bit uncomfortable on the neck.

And it makes it easier to work out which is the front and which is the back. Which is always helpful.

Want to join in with the Big Jimmy Jab knitalong?

It’s really easy to come join the fun. All you need to do is post a photo of your project with on Instagram with the hashtag #bigjimmyjabKAL

Everyone who uses the tag will get entered into a draw to win free patterns, with a big prize of a £35 voucher to use at lovely yarn shop No Frills Knitting.

The knitalong is running til the end of May, so you’ve got plenty of time to join in.

How to knit with German short rows: A not at all scary guide

Do you know what I really bloody love? German short rows.

Seriously. They’re one of my very favourite knitting techniques. If you’ve knitted one of my patterns, then you’ll know that I use them a lot, but I’ve never felt compelled to truly sing their praises before.

Until now.

What are short rows?

Now, before I get all over-excited about German short rows, let’s take it back to basics a bit by answering the question “what are short rows?”

The answer, like many things in knitting, is suprisingly simple. Short rows are – as their name suggests – where you knit only part of a row before turning your work. You have to do a little bit of a something at the end of your partial row to stop a hole appearing there, but we’ll get to that later.

Why would you use short rows?

You mean other than because they’re brilliant?

They can be used for all sorts of things to do with shaping knitting; adding high-low hems, shaping shoulders, creating “chunks” of knitting within a pattern (as in my Set the Tone scarf), and even turning heels.

And what are German short rows?

German short rows are one technique that you can use to avoid those holes I mentioned earlier. A lot of people use the wrap and turn short row method and think it’s fine, but I can only assume that those people have never used German short rows. Because German short rows are way, way better.

What makes German short rows so good?

They’re really simple. Honestly, they’re so, so simple. When I tried the old wrap and turn back in my early days I got myself into a right pickle trying to pick up wraps and then dropping wraps and then forgetting to even do the wraps and oh it hurt my head.

There’s no faffing with wraps in German short rows. What you do instead is make the first stitch of your row into a “double stitch”, which sounds fancy but really isn’t.

So how do I make a double stitch?

Creating a double stitch is surprisingly easy, and weird satisfying. And it’s the same whether you’re working with a knit or purl stitch.

To create a double stitch, you bring your yarn to the front of your work, slip the first stitch onto your right hand needle, and pull the yarn over the top of your needle to make a stitch with two “legs”. That’s it.

Bet you thought it was going to be a more complex thing than that, didn’t you?

What about getting rid of the double stitch?

Once you’re done working your short rows and want to go back to knitting the full row – or round, because you can use them for knitting in the round as well – you just work the two “legs” of the double stitch together. If you’re on a knit row, you knit them together. If you’re on a purl row, you purl them. That’s it.

Can I see German short rows in action?

You can indeed. I’ve made a handy little video tutorial to German short rows and creating double stitches. It’s even got a cameo from my cat.

And just because I’m all kinds of lovely, I’ve also made a handy little reminder pin that you can use as a cheat sheet.

Got any questions about German short rows? Drop me a comment below, get in touch on Instagram, or even send me an email. In case you can’t tell, I love German short rows and will be very, very happy to help.