A Wrap-and-Turn Tutorial

August 28, 2011 at 8:52 am 5 comments

Who could have predicted the popularity of the Nose Cozy? It’s a funny little cone of stockinette, worked using short rows, and perfect to use as a beak, or a false nose, or a witch hat for Barbie…

Well, in my post on the Cozy, I talked a bit about the specifics of wrapping and turning short rows when working in stockinette, as you do for that pattern. But, when I wrote that, I didn’t have the time to go through and make a photo/video tutorial as I would have liked. This, dear readers, is that tutorial. Read on!
A preface: this tutorial is specifically addressing the smoothest way to handle w&t short rows in stockinette, which is not only what you encounter in the Nose Cozy, but also short-row toes/heels when you’re knitting socks, and also the vast majority of short rows in garment shaping (bust “darts” and such). In my experience, the following procedure also works just fine for most lace short-rows where the front side is the “pattern row” and the reverse is mostly purls across. When we start getting into ribbing or garter stitch, however, with purls on the facing side, you may want to seek variants. This is something I hope to tackle in the future, but for now, a tried-and-true approach to stockinette short-rows.

  • Following Directions: Work X number of stitches OR until X stitch; wrap and turn (also written w&t).

With short rows, you will have stitches left over on the left when you turn your work around. It may only be one, or it may be most of your row. Keep this in mind.

Now, for the fun part. Once we’ve worked the requisite number of stitches, up to the appropriate place, we’ll be wrapping the following stitch on the left (in the case of the Nose Cozy and most short row toes, the only stitch left on the left). In doing so, we’ll be making a loop that sits snugly around the bottom of the stitch like a choker necklace. This stitch will not actually be knitted or purled, just wrapped and returned to the needle.

what we’re aiming for – a triangle of stitches, with wraps and turns at each edge

1. Start out by bringing the yarn to the opposite side of the work, between the needles. If you’re on the knit side, that means back to front, if you’re purling, then front to back.
2. Slip the unworked stitch to the righthand needle.
3. Bring the yarn back between the needles (knit side – to the back, purl side – to the front). In our case at the end of the row, we’ll just bring the yarn around to the back.
4. Slip the wrapped stitch back to the left needle.
5. Turn your work around, and continue following your pattern, starting with the next stitch on the left. You will inevitably have some stitches on the left and some on the right, unlike normally when you start a row with an empty needle on the right. This is what makes it a “short row” – you don’t work every stitch in the row, but rather turn at some point before the end, in our example, one stitch early.

So we’ve mastered the “wrap and turn” part, following these directions for both the knit and the purl sides. My mantra? Move yarn first. That way, you don’t get confused about what order things happen in – you just move the yarn first.

Move the yarn, move the stitch. Move the yarn back, move the stitch back. Turn.

But now you have all these wrapped stitches, and as you continue on, your pattern will ask you to do something like, “work wrapped stitches with their wraps.” Whatever do they mean?

Permit me to take a step back to talk about this conceptually. If you start knitting at one end of a row and only go partway before you turn around and come back, that’s in essence a short row. But in that scenario, you’ll end up with a big ol’ hole at the place where you turned. This is why w&t was invented; the technique eliminates the hole by creating an extra piece of knitting that joins the end of the shorter row with the knitting that continues beyond it. If we wrap and turn all the necessary stitches, we’ve solved part of the problem. But then we have those wraps, which make gaps and sit like purl bumps on our stitches. We can’t have that! So, to have a more flawless appearance, we work the wraps with their stitches – the extra yarn disappears to the back of the work, and smooths everything over.

Let’s look at this in practice.

On the knit side, you knit up to the wrapped stitch, and then, using your right needle, scoop up the wrap from the bottom. Keeping the wrap on the right needle, insert the right needle knitwise into the wrapped stitch. You’ll want to knit these two pieces together, so first readjust so both pieces are on the left needle. To do this, pull your left needle out of the wrapped stitch, and reinsert it in the same direction (toward the front) into both the wrap and the stitch. You should be in k2tog position, so go ahead and work those two together. the wrap is the horizontal piece just below the stitch on the left;
I’m picking it up from the bottom, and will work it together with the stitch

On the purl side, it’s a bit trickier. If you pick up the wrap like you did on the knit side, from the side facing you (the purl side, in this case), you’d end up with an unsightly bump on the face of your knitting. No good. So, we need to approach from the other side. Using the right needle, reach around the back of your work (the knit side) and scoop up the purl from the bottom. Bring the needle around toward the front of the work, and insert it purlwise into the wrapped stitch. Again, you’ll probably need to readjust your left needle, so remove it from the stitch, and reinsert it into both pieces, making sure the left needle ends up in the back, in p2tog position. At this point, you can purl those two pieces together.

looking over the back side (knit side) of the work, and scooping up the horizontal wrap from the bottom (further away from the needles)

For our nose cozy pattern, and for short row toes and heels, after picking up a wrapped stitch, you’ll be asked to wrap and turn the next stitch, which results in a double wrap. Picking up and working a double wrap is just like working a single wrap, except, well, you have two pieces to pick up, so you’ll end up working 3 together, either knitwise or purlwise.

a double wrap on the knit side and the purl side

Some techniques benefit greatly from seeing it done – this is one of them. Have a look at the following video to watch the picking up and double-wraps in action:

And there you have it! All the steps needed for making a wrap-and-turn nose cozy. So how does this relate to, say, a sock heel or toe?

Well, if you wanted to start a pair of toe-up socks with a short-row toe, you’d start off by provisionally casting on half the number of stitches you hope for in the final foot (we’re assuming here that you’re making a basic sock where the foot and the ankle have the same number of stitches, not compensating for any sort of stitch pattern. If you are compensating for a stitch pattern, base your stitch number here on stitches/in in stockinette, not in pattern). As an example, we’ll imagine a 60-stitch sock (sock yarn, size 1 needles, should make something like a women’s medium sock). You’d make a provisional cast on of 30 stitches, and my preferred method is the crochet cast on, but you could even do Judy’s magic cast on or a Turkish cast on, and leave the other stitches on another needle…I just prefer not to have that extra needle floating around.

Using those 30 stitches, you’ll work exactly as above. So, in this case, knit across 29, w&t. Purl 28, w&t. Knit 27, w&t…you get the picture. Do this until you have a small number of stitches unwrapped in the center – 10 or so – and then proceed to step two, the picking up and double-wrapping. Once you’ve gotten through all of the stitches, up and down, you’ll have a little toe, and you’re ready to join in the round, unpicking your crocheted cast on or using the other half of Judy’s Magic or the Turkish cast on.

Simple as that!


Entry filed under: knitting, socks, techniques. Tags: , , , , , .

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5 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Bryce  |  November 5, 2012 at 1:35 am

    Hey! This is my 1st comment here so I just wanted
    to give a quick shout out and say I truly enjoy reading through your articles.
    Can you recommend any other blogs/websites/forums that cover the
    same subjects? Appreciate it!

  • 2. Lynn  |  February 16, 2014 at 4:47 pm

    I cannot believe you don’t have more comments on this fantastic short rows tutorial because you just saved me!!! I have looked at countless wrap and turn tutorials but yours did it for me – I get it! I was so stuck on unsightly purled wraps but you explained it so my brain understood. Thank you soooo much!

  • 3. Elaine  |  June 9, 2014 at 1:32 pm

    Great tutorial!! Thanks so much!

  • 4. Pat from Port St. Lucie  |  June 14, 2014 at 11:52 am

    So many sites with instructions with so many steps! You have simplified this. Thank you! 🙂

  • 5. kathrynlambe  |  August 22, 2014 at 7:01 pm

    Absolutely invaluable tutorial. I was having such a hard time identifying my wraps on my stitches and your videos instantly clarified what I had to do. Thank you so much!


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