Next-Level Knitting: Crush the Wrap & Turn, Create Short Rows and Make Magic with Yarn

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Wrap and turn: It sounds like a dance move, and definitely should be. But it's actually a knitting technique, one that's essential to making short rows.

As you advance in your knitting, you'll eventually need to conquer short rows , a design element that creates soft angles and curves that aren't as obvious or harsh as the usual increases and decreases.

What's Wrapping and Turning All About?

Wrap and turn (sometimes abbreviated as w&t) in knitting involves wrapping stitches with the working yarn, turning the work, then coming back to the wrapped stitches later. The wrap and turn works for anything from making basic sock heels to shaping a shawl.

Getting the hang of wrap and turn in knitting can be a little frustrating, but it's worth gritting your teeth and getting through that awkward beginner phase. It'll get easier quickly, and soon you'll be gawking at your own impressive skills.

Let's walk through the technique, and also practice picking up the wraps when you come back to them later.

Wrap and Turn Tutorial

For this exercise, you can make a small swatch, or just work off your current project.

Cast on 15 stitches, then knit four rows of stockinette stitch to get your swatch started.

On the Knit Side

1. On the next right side row, knit until there are two stitches left (in the example below, you'd knit 13 stitches).

2. Now you're ready to do the w&t on the next-to-last stitch on the knit side.

With the yarn in back, insert your needle purlwise into the stitch you're going to wrap. (In this case, that's the next-to-last stitch of the row.)

Slip the stitch from the left needle to the right needle.

3. Pull the yarn around to the front of the work.

4. Slip the stitch back onto the left needle again.

5. Turn your work to the wrong side, preparing to work the purl row.

You might want to mark the wrapped stitches with a stitch marker. That's especially handy when you're working with dark or thin yarn, since it's sometimes difficult to see the wraps.

Before you start to purl across on the wrong side, tug on the yarn to make sure the wrap around the stitch is snug — but don't pull too tightly, or you'll have a tough time picking up the wraps later. (Stay tuned for more on that!)

On the Purl Side

Now we'll wrap a purl stitch.

1. Purl until there are two stitches left on your left needle.

2. With the yarn in front, insert the needle purlwise into the stitch you're going to wrap.

Slip the stitch over to the right needle.

3. Pull the yarn to the back of the work, then slip the stitch from the right needle to the left needle.

4. Turn your work to the right side, preparing to work another knit row. If you're using a stitch marker, mark the wrapped stitch.

Just as you did with the knit w&t, tug on the yarn before you start knitting to make sure the wrap is snug.

Continuing Your Short Rows

Repeat these steps back and forth across the rows, always knitting or purling to one stitch before the last wrapped stitch. Continue until there are only five stitches between the wrapped stitches.

You can already see those soft angles forming as you knit.

How to Pick Up Wrapped Stitches

If you leave your stitches wrapped, they don't look so great. So we're going to work across the entire row and pick up the wraps as we knit.

If you take a look at the photo above, you can see the wrapped stitches on and to the left of the marked stitch. Don't those knit stitches look like they have little scarves around their necks? Cute —but not that cute. Those are the wraps we're going to pick up.

On the Knit Side

When you get to the first wrapped stitch, insert the needle from front to back into the wrap ...

... then into the stitch on the needle as if to knit. Knit the wrap together with the stitch on the needle.

Repeat this move across the row, picking up all the wrapped stitches.

Depending on your pattern, your knitting might start to look a little bumpy and weird. See how the knitting in the photo above swells up in the middle? That's what happens when you make all those neat angles.

On the Purl Side

Purl across to the first wrapped stitch, then, with the yarn in front, insert the needle from bottom to top into the wrap ...

... then into the stitch on the needle, as if to purl. Purl the wrap together with the stitch. This will feel similar to purling two together.

Repeat this across the rest of the row, picking up the wraps and purling them with the stitches.

That's it! You've just successfully wrapped and turned a ton of stitches. 

Keep practicing, and expand on your short-row skills whenever you feel ready. Pretty soon you'll be doing this blindfolded — with a chic blindfold you knit yourself, of course.

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Next-Level Knitting: Crush the Wrap & Turn, Create Short Rows and Make Magic with Yarn