Right now I am working on a project that requires a wrap and turn, abbreviated as w&t (in some patterns it can also be W/T). This is a technique used to create what are called "short rows" that allow for shaping in a piece of knitwork. Really, it allows a designer to only be limited by their imagination- the handy wrap and turn shows up in shawls, sweaters, hats, socks...you name it, there is a pattern out there with a short row for it. It can seem intimidating, but as with many things, it is not as scary as you initially think. I feel like any technique that gets it's own special name or symbol tends to frighten the novice knitter, but go forth with confidence...you can do this!
A wrap and turn is exactly what it sounds like; you wrap a stitch and then turn your work and knit in the opposite direction. For example, if a piece has 20 stitches across your needle, a pattern may want you to wrap and turn at the half way point. This means you would knit 10 stitches, wrap the 11th stitch, turn your work around then head back to where you came from. In a pattern, it may look something like this:
That is why a wrap and turn creates what is called a short row. The row you knit is shorter than the full set of of stitches on your needle. The wrap and turn eliminates the small holes that would appear if you simply turned your work and went the other way without wrapping a stitch. It works as an anchor, of sorts, to create seamless, hole-less shaping. Now that you have a basic idea of what a wrap and turn is, let's dig deeper into how to achieve it.
I will say at the beginning of this tutorial that the wrap and turn is often a two-step process, though some patterns do not require the second step, so make sure you read through completely. The second step would be in a row worked after your wrap and turn. As you knit the row above your wrap and turn, patterns will often ask you to pick up and knit the wrap with the stitch that it is wrapped around. To achieve this, simply treat the wrap yarn as its own stitch and complete a k2tog (knit two together) with the wrap yarn and the stitch it wraps. If you forget this step, it is not the end of the world. It simply serves to make the short rows you are creating even more seamless. However, wrapped stitches are not obvious themselves, so please do not unravel a project if you forget the second step. In fact, as I mentioned, some patterns do not even ask it of you.
This picture tutorial takes you through the process of the wrap and turn for both a knit stitch and a purl stitch.
A Knit Wrap and Turn
The first step is to knit to where you need to execute the wrap and turn. Keeping with our example, in a k10, w&t scenario, you would knit ten stitches. Then, on the eleventh stitch, with your working yarn in back, you would insert your right needle into the first stitch on your left needle as if to purl. Slip the stitch from the left needle to the right needle.
Your working yarn was in back when you slipped the stitch. Now, bring that working yarn forward.
With that yarn still in front, slip the last stitch on your right needle back on to your left needle. (This is the stitch that you slipped in the first step.) Your working yarn should now be "wrapped" around this slipped stitch, coming forward between the first and second stitch of your left needle.
Last, you turn your work. Now your working yarn is in the back of your knitting and between the first and second stitch on your right needle. Use the working yarn and simply knit back the way your came. You have achieved a wrapped stitch.
A Purl Wrap and Turn
Working a wrap and turn for a purl stitch is essentially the same as the knit wrap and turn, with a few subtle differences in where you hold your working yarn.
Work your piece to where you need to wrap and turn. Then, with your working yarn in front, insert your right needle purlwise into the first stitch on your left needle. Slip this stitch from the left needle to the right needle.
Move your working yarn to the back. You have now wrapped that slipped stitch and need to return it to your left hand needle. Simply slip the first stitch from the right needle on to the left needle, making sure to keep holding your working yarn in back.
After slipping the stitch, turn your work. Your working yarn should be in the front, coming forward between the first and second stitches on the right needle. Now purl back the way you came, you have successfully completed a wrap and turn!