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Hood Shaping with Short Rows [Tutorial]

​​ A year ago today I was working on two hoodies back to back. Maypop Hoodie was released in May 2019 and is worked from the top down. Zingiber came out in Making Stories Issue 2 later in October 2019. Although the rest of the cardigan is knit top-down, the hood is worked last from the bottom up. Both of these hoodies employ the same technique for shaping the hood: short rows.

​​ The publication rights for Zingiber have just reverted back to me and the pattern is now available as a single download in my Ravelry store and on LoveCrafts. This blog post details the hood-shaping technique with short rows: how it differs from other hoods, why and when you can and should use it, and how to do it.

How to Knit a Hood? A simplest form of a knitted hood is a rectangular piece that's folded in half and seamed at the top. Because there's no shaping in this type of hood, the apex of the hood ends with a pointy bit. Add a tassel to it and it can look really cute — especially in kids' garments.

A square hood is seamed at the top.

To get a more rounded hood, you need to add shaping to the middle with, for example, decreases. I used this kind of a hood in my Dilaila's Hoodie pattern. By varying the rate of decreases worked you get a more curved line to the apex of the hood. The top is grafted together using Kitchener stitch so you get an invisible join.

A rounded hood is shaped with decreases.

Short-Row Hood: What's the Difference? The short-row hood closely resembles the construction of a three-piece hood you see in some sewing patterns. The side panels are curved but the center panel is a straight, rectangular piece. This creates a three-dimensional object rather than two flat objects sewn together.

A three-piece hood is made of three separate panels.

When translated into knitting, the hood is worked seamlessly in one piece. You don't have to seam or graft it at the top. And since there's no seaming involved, you can work the short-row hood in either direction: top-down or bottom-up! ​​

A short-row hood requires no seaming.

The curved shape of the side sections is created with short rows, kind of like a giant short-row heel. Another benefit of the short-row hood is that the stitches in the center section stay untouched. This makes it an ideal place for some patterning, such as a cable panel like in Zingiber or a lace panel like in Maypop Hoodie.

How to Shape a Hood with Short Rows

First, divide the width of the hood into three more-or-less equal sections. It doesn't have to be exact but make sure the two side sections have the same number of stitches each. Mark the sections by placing two stitch markers.

To shape the hood you'll work two sets of short rows. The technique is the same regardless of working top-down or bottom-up. You can use any short-row method for preventing a gap from forming in the turning point, such as wrap & turns or double stitches. The instructions that follow are written with w&t short rows.

In the first set the rows are getting shorter and shorter by one stitch on each row. Row 1 (RS): Work to last stitch, w&t. Row 2 (WS): Work to last stitch, w&t. Row 3 (RS): Work to 1 stitch before last wrapped stitch, w&t. Row 4 (WS): Work to 1 stitch before last wrapped stitch, w&t.

Repeat the last two rows until you have wrapped all the stitches outside the markers. Here I'm working on a mini hood with 6 wrapped stitches on the sides and 10 in the middle between the two markers.

Work two rows back and forth, picking up all wraps. You can already see the hood starting to take shape.

Then comes the second set of short rows in which the rows are getting longer and longer by one stitch each row. Row 1 (RS): Work to second marker, slip marker, w&t. Row 2 (WS): Work to second marker, slip marker, w&t. Row 3 (RS): Work to last wrapped stitch, work next stitch together with its wrap, w&t. Row 4 (WS): Work to last wrapped stitch, work next stitch together with its wrap, w&t.

Repeat the last two rows until both the first and last stitch of the row are wrapped stitches. Work two rows back and forth to pick up the remaining two wraps.

What comes next depends on the direction you're working the hood. In a bottom-up hood, you can either leave the stitches live, pick up stitches from the straight edges of the hood, and knit a ribbing or other band for the hood like I did on Zingiber. In a top-down hood, like in Maypop Hoodie, work even until the hood is the length you want, then start the yoke of the garment.

In my opinion, the biggest reason for using this short-row shaping method is if you want to knit a hood with uninterrupted patterning in the middle. Another benefit of the technique is that there's no seaming or grafting. (There might be picking up stitches, though.) ​​

The short-row hood is very versatile since it can be worked either top-down or bottom-up. This opens up quite a lot of possibilities to designers and knitters in general. If you know you definitely want a hood, you can work your sweater or cardigan hood first. But if you're on the fence, you can work the hood last and from the bottom up, even if the rest of the garment was knit top-down. The hood on Zingiber is optional: you can leave it out and just work a neck band instead!

Zingiber is now available as a single download in my Ravelry store and on LoveCrafts. I'd love to see your hoodies! Share your project on Instagram with the hashtags #zingiberhoodie and #talviknits.

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#knitting #hoodie #hood #shortrows #techniques #knittingtechnique #Zingiber #MakingStories #MaypopHoodie #DilailasHoodie

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Susanna Winter is a knitwear designer, creating timeless and elegant pieces with clean lines. She has been knitting for over 20 years, knit blogging since 2007, and designing knitting patterns professionally since 2016.

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