Easy Short Rows: How to Knit German Short Rows

I was a bit late to the sock party. I didn't imagine that they'd be much fun to knit, plus, all that heel nonsense seemed far too complicated for me. Thankfully, I eventually gave them a try and now I absolutely love them!

When I was designing my upcoming sock pattern (Get a sneak peak on Instagram!), I experimented with a few heel options. I came to the conclusion that a short row heel was the best option, as I wanted it to be in a contrasting colour and found the aesthetic more pleasing.

I'll be honest - previous to designing this pattern, I had never worked with German short rows before! But I'd heard how brilliant they are and wanted to learn how to use them. Now that I'm a convert, I want to show you how to knit them too.

German Short Rows for Heels

German short rows create the same shaping that you would create with regular "wrap & turn" short rows, but they require no wrapping. Additionally, they look neater and they even feel more comfortable on the foot. I love them because they are very intuitive - it's hard to lose your place when working the heel, which can happen with the wrap & turn method.

This method can be used in any situation where you'd use short rows, e.g. shoulder shaping, and can be substituted in any pattern with one simple adjustment (more on that later.)


German Short Row Tutorial

Written Instructions on How to Knit German Short Rows

  1. Work from your pattern until it says "turn and mds" or "turn and make double stitch."

  2. Turn your work and with the yarn at the front (this applies whether you are working on the front or back of your work), slip the first stitch purlwise.

  3. Tug on the yarn attached to the stitch and lift it up and over the needle, pulling the base of the stitch with it.

  4. If your next stitch is a purl, bring the yarn back to the front and purl.

  5. If your next stitch is a knit, keep the yarn over and at the back of the work before you knit.

  6. Your stitch should now look as though it is two stitches with two strands over the needle that interlock at the top.

  7. Continue working your double stitches according to the pattern until it asks you to knit/purl over the double stitches.

  8. To knit/purl over the double stitches, you essentially knit/purl the double stitch as if it is one stitch. It feels very similar to a k2tog or p2tog.

  9. You should always have the same stitch count throughout the process.

How to Substitute German Short Rows for Wrap & Turn Short Rows

It's actually very easy to turn any pattern using regular w&t short rows into German ones. All you have to do is work one extra stitch before turning your work to make a double stitch.

Here's an example of how you might substitute it:

Old wrap & Turn short row instructions: k9, wrap & turn.

New German short row instructions: k10, turn and mds (make a double stitch)

The german short row heel will come out exactly the same shape as the pattern intended but simply uses a different (easier) short row method.

Try it and see!

Give this a shot on your next pair of socks and see if you like it - if you're anything like me, you will probably want to use this method for every short row project going forward!

I have a lovely new sock pattern on it's way to you, which will be released on the 15th August. I use German short rows for the heel, so it's a fantastic opportunity to test it out.

What's your favourite heel method?

Are you a short row fan or do you prefer a flap and gusset? Share your favourite heel method in the comments section below!