Short-Row Neck Shaping

One of the questions that has come up this week in our Ravelry discussion thread of the Berroco Remix® Light KAL is about the short-row neck shaping in Derecho. Besides technique questions about how to “wrap and turn,” at least one participant was wondering, why are we even doing this? It’s a great question!

First, why do we include neck shaping in any of our sweaters? This might be obvious to some, but in case you’ve never thought about the way your neck fits into your torso, let’s think about that now. In the back, your shoulders make a fairly straight line across your back neck. But in the front, your neck fits in on an angle. If the top of your sweater goes straight across, that can feel pretty annoying on the front of your neck.

From a comfort standpoint, circular yoke shaping will avoid that choking feeling—here is an example from a previous Berroco KAL project, Agave, which has no neck shaping.

Agave sweater knitting pattern by Berroco

As you can see, the front neck dips down anyway, which is a function of the circular construction. The patterned yoke here illustrates that if you stopped knitting earlier, for example after the row of red diamonds, you’d get a deeper curved neckline.

But in the back, you have the same curve, instead of having the back neck higher than the front.

Agave back neck

Visually, I prefer to have the back neck raised up for most sweaters, so that it covers more of my upper back. Particularly for a sweater intended to be worn in colder weather, I’d want the back neck to be higher for warmth.

So that is why short-row neck shaping is included in many circular yoke sweaters. Sometimes I even add some short rows in if the pattern doesn’t call for them! You can either work them close to the neckline, like in Derecho, or you can work them further down the yoke to avoid interfering with your colorwork, as in the Ellen cardigan:

Ellen cardigan knitting pattern in Berroco Ultra Alpaca

Of course, you are always free to skip those pesky short rows if you don’t mind having the back neck dip down equally with the front, like in Agave. That’s the beauty of knitting—deciding how you want to make a pattern work for you!

Have other questions about Derecho? Feel free to leave them as a comment here, or post the question to the Ravelry group!


  1. Wow this is helpful. Maybe other little things for us newbies. For example you pick up the wrapped stitch the knit it (or purl) it when you get to them then knit (purl) 2 etc. final time you knit to end of row but don’t you need to do the same to that last purl wrap? The directions don’t remind you to that. If you don’t there’s a gap. Hopefully I did that right. This is a fun project.

  2. I just added German short rows to a bottom up circular sweater to raise the back of the neck about one inch. I find German short rows very easy to work because the technique is the same for knit or purl stitches and they look very smooth in the fabric.

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