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How to: Calculate Short Rows for a Cardigan

Tutorial -

How to: Calculate Short Rows for a Cardigan

How to: Calculate Short Rows for a Cardigan

Short Rows are a method of working partial rows to create extra space in any given area of a knitted garment. They are perfect for adding a wedge of fabric to the front of a garment so that the front edge of the cardigan or pullover does not ride up on the bust or belly. For this tutorial, we will be adding length using short rows to each cardigan front.

Short Rows are triangular shaped wedges of stitches that are placed with the small point located close to the side seam and the wide end over the bust. From the front they will look like < bust >; below you can see how the widest area of these wedges would sit on Tanya Torso while the points would wrap around to the side seam. 

How to: Calculate Short Rows for a Cardigan

There are four rules for the placement and size of these wedges:

  1. Short Row Wraps should sit 1 inch in from the side seam edge.
  2. Short Row Wraps should sit 1 inch in from the peak bust measurement.
  3. Short Rows should be placed so they sit directly over the bust peak.
  4. The number of Short Rows needed is dictated by the difference between the length beside the bust and the length over the bust.

How to: Calculate Short Rows for a Cardigan

For the purposes of this tutorial, we will work at the gauge of 20 sts / 26 rows per 4 inches of stockinette. This is the stated gauge of the Rose Thrift Cardigan, which is also the cardigan referenced in the photos below. You can find this pattern on Ravelry here: Rose Thrift Cardigan

 

  1. Short Row Wraps should sit approximately 1 inch in from the side seam edge

This is a simple calculation: 1 inch = 20 sts / 4 inches = 5 sts, so no wrap should be any closer than approximately 5 sts from the side of the cardigan front. (We are going to steal one stitch from this measurement for Tanya's short rows later on, if you need one or two stitches to make perfect math for the short rows then take them from the side seam area). 

Tanya’s front width is about 9.75 inches wide (she would wear the first size of the cardigan), and the short rows for her would need to be no closer to the edge than the 8.75 inch mark as seen on the tape measure below.

How to: Calculate Short Rows for a Cardigan

 

  1. Short Row Wraps should sit 1 inch in from the peak bust measurement

This calculation requires some measurements; while standing (and wearing your bra!), take a tape measure and place the beginning end at the center of your torso in the middle of the bust. Then, measure from the center to one side over the peak of the bust, one inch past the highest spot. (The highest peak is probably where your nipple is, but everyone is different so just go for the spot that pushes out the most when looking down at your bust). 

For Tanya this measurement is 5 inches; for me this measurement is 8 inches.

In stitches, for Tanya this measurement is 25 sts; for me this measurement is 40 sts.

How to: Calculate Short Rows for a Cardigan

Where do the Short Rows sit in the stitches?

We now know where the short rows should not be, so let’s take those stitches away from the total front width and see how many stitches we have remaining and available to work the short rows over.

Tanya: Her total front cast on is 47 sts – minus the 5 sts from the side seam area = 42 sts, – minus the width from the center torso over the peak bust of 5 inches or 25 sts = 17 sts.

For Me: My total front cast on is 69 sts – minus the 5 sts from the side seam area = 64 sts, – minus the width from the center torso over the peak bust of 8 inches or 40 sts = 24 sts. My completed left front of the Rose Thrift Cardigan is pictured below.

How to: Calculate Short Rows for a Cardigan

 

  1. Short Rows should be placed so they sit directly over the bust peak

Using the measuring tape and standing in front of a mirror, run the tape from your shoulder to hem beside your bust, right down the armpit.

First, note where your peak bust size intersects with the measuring tape: For Tanya this takes place at 7.625 inches. The Rose Thrift armhole depth for her size is 6.5 inches deep, so she would work the short rows about 1 inch before the armhole depth, or alternately you could say 1 inch less than her desired body length.

How to: Calculate Short Rows for a Cardigan

  1. The number of Short Rows needed is dictated by the difference between the length beside the bust and the length over the bust.

Using the same measurement with the tape from the shoulder to the hem beside the bust, see where your total desired back length reaches on your hips/thigh. For Tanya’s Torso, her desired total length reaches 18.5 inches from her shoulder to the hem.

 

Then, adjust the measuring tape to go from the shoulder over the bust; for Tanya the two measurements are about 1 inch different.

How to: Calculate Short Rows for a Cardigan

For me that difference is about 3.6 inches.

 

How many Short Rows are needed?

Take your rows per inch over stockinette and multiply it by the needed inches of length.

I get 26 rows per 4 inches of stockinette = 6.5 rows per inch.

Tanya needs 1 inch x 6.5 rows = 6.5 rows rounded down to 6 rows total length= 3 wraps.

I need 3.6 inches x 6.5 rows = 23.4 rows rounded up to 24 rows total length = 12 wraps.

 

Putting it all together

Tanya now knows she needs to have 6 short rows worked over 17 sts, but since 6 divides really nicely into 18 stitches, let’s take one stitch from the 5 edge stitches and move it into the short rows so we can have 18 total and she can wrap her 6 short rows every 3 stitches. 

6 short rows x (worked over) 3 stitches = 18 stitches total.

Since we stole a stitch from the side seam, we will make sure to place our first wrap with 4 whole untouched stitches remaining at the side seam (instead of 5 sts).

 

For me, I now know I need to have 12 short rows worked over 24 sts, which conveniently works out to one wrap every 2 sts. 12 short rows x (worked over) 2 stitches = 24 stitches total.

 

Placing Short Rows that don't sit nicely into the stitch count

The two examples used for this tutorial had fairly nice math with the Short Rows sitting evenly into the available space. That won't always be the case so how to do you deal with awkward number combinations?

You can work a combination of wraps every 1 stitch, every 2 stitches and even every 3 or 4 stitches if needed just make sure to:

Have them as evenly dispersed as possible over the available space

AND

Place the steeper ones (lower numbers, wrapping every stitch or every 1 stitch) closer to the bust and the shallower ones (higher numbers, wrapping every 2-4 or more) stitches closer to the side seam.

If you need help with specific math please leave your question in the comments and I will get back to you!

 

And Finally how to work the Short Rows on each side

On the Left Front, you will need to work the Short Rows beginning on the WS row: Work to 6 sts before the side seam and begin your short rows by wrapping the 5th stitch (unless you altered this to fit your short rows evenly).

On the Right Front, you will need to work the Short Rows beginning on the RS, work to 6 sts before the side seam and begin your short rows by wrapping the 5th stitch (unless you altered this to fit your short rows evenly).

 

German Short Rows are a great type to use! Check them out here

How to: Work German Short Rows

 

Want to try calculating Short Rows on another garment? Glassberry is a bottom up seamed cardigan with a lace back and textured sleeves, available in plus sizes up to 60.5" bust circumference this cardigan would be easy to add short rows into. 

Glassberry Cardigan by Meghan Jones  Glassberry Cardigan by Meghan Jones

 

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