Your Guide to Wrap and Turn in Knitting

Fellow knitters, come one, come all! If you want to see the fairest knitting trick in town, this guide is the best place. The wrap and turn is an age-old technique used in knitting for a very nifty purpose. Fortunately, this easy technique is readily mastered by novices and masters alike. Whether you just started out on your knitting journey, or are looking for some tips to push through that complicated project, we’ve got you covered.

Caption: The wrap and turn technique is an essential thing all knitters should know.

Why Do I Need to Wrap and Turn?

First, let’s identify what the wrap and turn is, and why it’s important to use it. A wrap and turn is a simple technique that comes in handy for short-row work. There may come a time where you want to increase or decrease the number of stitches you’re working with (or, similarly, you want to increase or decrease the width of your piece). By wrapping and turning, you can successfully accomplish this without accumulating any holes in the process. This is particularly useful for sock making, where you’ll need to pause to make the heel. This technique is also great for sleeves, hats, advanced sweaters, and more. If you learn how to wrap and turn in knitting, you can incorporate curves and elegant rounded edges in your projects. But if you’re looking for a simple project to test this technique out, I recommend trying out a simple hat pattern. A beanie style hat is the perfect opportunity to both wrap up stitches and pick them up as well. Plus, you get to make an adorable pom pom! Who could pass up on that!

If you want to follow along, here is an easy hat pattern from Instructables that features the wrap and turn on every row.

For this project, you’ll need size 8 needles (or 5mm depending on what country you’re in), and 100g of medium weight yarn. Don’t forget to save some of your yarn to make a pom pom for the end (it also helps to cover up any mistakes at the crown!). Finally, don’t forget to familiarize yourself with some of the abbreviations commonly used in knitting patterns. For this pattern, you’ll only need to do a basic garter stitch, so it’s a great one to practice with.

The Basics of Wrap and Turn

The wrap and turn technique itself is quite simple. At a glance, you’ll simply slip a stitch onto the other hook, wrap the yarn, then turn your entire piece around. From there, you’ll be able to continue on the purl side. Once you’re done, you’ll use the same technique to return to the knit side of your work. If any of that sounds complicated, you can rest assured that it’s not too difficult. If you’re having trouble picturing any of these steps, refer to some of the excellent video guides below to see the technique in action. So, without further ado, let’s break down the process and learn how to wrap and turn in knitting.

Step One

Knit/purl for four stitches. Stop.

Step Two

On your left needle, take a look at the first loop. Slip that loop off onto the other needle.

Step Three

Take your working yarn. Holding your two needles apart per usual, bring the working yarn towards you. It’ll drape across your work between the two


Step Four

With the working yarn still in the middle, return the slipped stitch from the right needle back to the left.

Step Five

Pull the working yarn back behind your needles.

Step Six

Turn your work around. Continue knitting on the purl side.

Congrats! You just did your first wrap and turn.

Now that you’re on the purl side, let’s wrap and turn back to the knit side of our work. It’s the same exact process, just in reverse.

Step One

Slip the stitch from the right needle to the left.

Step Two

Your working yarn will be in the front this time. Pull it towards the back.

Step Three

Return the slipped stitch from the left needle back to the right.

Step Four

Bring the working yarn to the front.

Step Five

Turn the work around. You are now on the knit side.

Need a little visual aid? Here’s a fantastic representation by Youtube knitting channel Knit Purl Hunter. Watch as she wraps and turns on both sides. You can also find additional videos of wrapping and turning at regular speed, rather than slow.

Caption: You can use the video settings on Youtube to slow down the video to .50 and .25 speeds.

Picking Up Wrapped Stitches

At some point, you may want to knit over those wrapped stitches. To do that, you’ll have to “pick up” the wrapped stitches. The steps for picking up wrapped stitches are as follows:

Step One

Knit to the stitches you’ve wrapped (but don’t go over).

Step Two

Pick up the wrapped stitch with your left needle. Transfer it to the right needle.

Step Three

Seperate the stitches so that you can easily distinguish between them (they might be stuck together).

Step Four

Transfer the stitches back to the left needle.

Step Five

Knit each stitch of these stitches as normal.

Voila! No holes or gaps.

And here’s Knit Purl Hunter picking up those same wrapped stitches.

Caption: Pay close attention to the differences for the knit and the purl side.

Increasing Stitches

Perhaps you want to increase the number of stitches you’re working with. Fortunately, that’s relatively straightforward as well.

To increase the number of stitches on the needle:

Step One

Knit a stitch, but don’t slip it off the needle just yet.

Step Two

Wrap the yarn around the needle again and make another stitch.

Step Three

Now slip off to the other needle as normal.

Further Reading

Instructables has a great visual guide for increasing and decreasing stitches.

Decreasing Stitches

To decrease the number of stitches:

Step One

Instead of picking up one stitch on your left needle, pick up two. Knit as normal.

Step Two

Place the one stitch on your right needle. You’ve decreased a stitch.

Caption: Wrapping and turning while creating your piece will make it look much more finished and professional.

The Finishing Touch for a Professional Project

Wrapping and turning opens up so many possibilities for your knitting projects. At its most basic, it enables you to add curvature or dimension to your work. By having the wrap and turn technique in your knitting toolbox, you’ll be able to tackle more complex projects, such as socks in which you’ll divide your stitches onto four needles and begin the heel. However, if you’re relatively new to knitting, the wrap and turn is not something you’ll see in excess for patterns or projects.

Know Before You Go

Since many patterns cost money to download and you don’t get to preview them beforehand, you can estimate whether or not a project will entail wrap and turns based on the number of curves or widening/narrowing in the project. If you do get to a wrap and turn in your project and are nerous about it, take some time to watch someone do it in slow motion before you try it. It’s also a good idea to practice it a few times beforehand. Once you do it a couple of times, you’ll see that there’s nothing to it.

Avoid This

If you’re new to some of these advanced knitting techniques, you might want to avoid choosing patterns that are overly complex or difficult. The same goes for exceptionally large/long projects; burnout is a real thing! As a beginner knitter, it’s beyond easy to get overwhelmed with all the directions and stitches happening on your needle. Another common pitfall is using an incorrect yarn for your project. There’s a number of soft, luxurious yarns to choose from at the shops (I’m fond of them myself), but you’ll find that these are quite difficult to work with if you’re a beginner.

Choosing the Right Supplies

You’ll want to choose the correct weight yarn and recommended size needles for your project. That might entail choosing a finer yarn and medium size needles, as it’ll be much easier to see and understand what you’re doing. The curse of the beginning knitter is slipped and dropped stitches. So many times in my early knitting days did I realize I was missing a few loops on my needles…or had a few extra. Work slow and methodically and you’ll avoid these issues.

Patience is Key

There’s the basics of wrap and turn knitting. How have you incorporated this into your work? Let us know in the comments below. When you’ve mastered the art of the wrap and turn, you’ll be able to conquer more advanced stitches and techniques in the future. There’s also a number of techniques similar to the wrap and turn, such as the German short row. If one technique doesn’t work for you, try going for another until you find one you’re good at. Happy knitting!