Single Crochet Short Rows: Closing the Gap
Short rows can have a variety of uses in crochet pattern construction, but they often leave unsightly gaps. Learn how to close those gaps to create neater designs.
I love working crochet short rows! For many crocheters they’re another shaping tool in our arsenal—a way to help our fabric behave the way we want it to. I like to think of crochet short rows the way I think about increases. Increases add stitches to our projects to increase the stitch count in a specific area. Meanwhile, crochet short rows add rows to our projects in much the same way. As a designer, I often like how crochet short rows don’t break up the texture of the fabric the way it would be broken if I simply worked a row with double crochets instead of single crochets. Much like knitting, some forms of crochet short rows can leave a hole, which is created by the “step” between the partial row being worked and a previous row. I found this hole problematic, so I discovered a way to close the gap. Later I found out that other patterns use this same technique, though it hasn’t been as popular in recent years. Basically, closing the gap involves working a decrease, but instead of this decrease pulling two stitches together, it pulls two rows together (see Photo 1). So let’s take things from the beginning. In Panels & Points Jumper on page 32, a short row is created by only working a partial row. A turning chain is worked, the piece is turned, and you begin working back toward the beginning of the previous row. Done over and over, this creates steps in the fabric. Each row has six fewer stitches than the previous row, creating four steps (see Photo 2).
After the short rows are worked, it’s time to process the steps so that they don’t create a hole or gap in the finished piece. I use a stitch I call the row-single crochet decrease, abbreviated rsc dec. It functions very similarly to a single crochet decrease, but like I mentioned before, it pulls the rows together instead of the stitches together. After working the decrease, you still have the same number of stitches in each long row. Let’s break this down. First, I crochet to one stitch before the step (see Photo 3). I begin the stitch as normal, going into the single crochet
(see Photo 4) and pulling a loop through (see Photo 5). I now have two loops on my hook. I do not finish the stitch off, though. Now, I go into the base of the single crochet worked two rows ago. It already has a stitch in it, but I’m going to go into that same place and pull up a second loop (see Photo 6). It can be a bit crowded, but that’s all right. I now have three loops on my hook (see Photo 7). Then, just like a normal single crochet decrease, I yarn over and pull through all three loops
(see Photo 8). The action of working the rsc dec pulls the multiple rows together, closing the hole that would have been created if we’d just ignored the short row (see Photo 9). Here you can see the slope created by the short rows, after all the stitches have been processed (see Photo 10). Many of my projects involve working short rows. In Panels & Points Jumper, the short rows are used to create spaces where lace is worked later. Give short rows a try! Working short rows is a great building block for beginners looking to take their crocheting to the next level; many of the projects I mentioned above only use single crochets, chains and the shortrow techniques discussed in this article. I hope this opens up a whole new world for you!