What Does it Mean to Turn in Knitting?

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Hand knit clothing is fun to make and warm to wear. Nothing says love like a pair of wool socks or a cozy scarf. While knitting is mostly flat or tubular, there are techniques that can be used to shape it so it fits the human body. A turn is one way to make "short rows" that create a curve.



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Use a turn in knitting when making a sock heel, the palm of a mitten, a bust dart or even the neck edge of a sweater. The goal of turning is to add rows to one part of your project but not another. This allows your finished piece to be shaped rather than straight up and down. Because the human body has curves, turning helps your piece fit better.

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Socks heels are the most common uses for short rows. To turn, you literally stop in the middle of the row, turn your needles and start knitting in the opposite direction. This leaves a gap in the stitches. When turning sock heels, you will knit the stitch before the gap and the one after it together, eliminating any hole in the finished piece. Continue to do this until all you have worked your way across all stitches and decreased to the number specified in your pattern. The goal is to narrow the knit fabric by the heel so that it fits snugly and does not bunch up in your shoe.


Another technique that eliminates gaps caused by turning is to slip the unknitted stitch onto the needle with the already knit stitches, wrap the yarn around it, slip it back on the left, unknitted side and then knit it as normally. This is called "wrap and turn" and eliminates the gap as well.



Keep an even tension when knitting short rows, even though you are turning frequently which means starting and stopping rows. This way, they will look like the rest of your project's stitches. It is especially helpful not to pull your wrap too tightly when you turn the row or the stitch will not blend with the others.


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