Tutorial | High waisted knit shorts

Warning: heavy text post. My knit shorts have gotten a lot of attention on the internets and in real life, for that matter - and I have received so many requests regarding them I can't even wrap my head around it. Many of you asked me if I could make you a pair, others were ready to pay me a lot of money to knit a pair for them, some asked for a recipe and a couple of you guys wanted to know where I bought it: because you didn't believe I made them. Honestly, I just got lucky. I was aiming for a kind of voluminous skirt; but somewhere in the process I decided to make shorts instead. I wish I could make a pair for every single one of you guys, but I really can't do that. So I'm doing the next best thing. Or, trying to. Here's a tutorial.

I've never made a tutorial before, so please be gentle with me. I also never had the skills to follow knitting recipes myself, so I'm kind of making it up as I go: using my own terms and kind of winging it; much like how I came up with the idea of making these shorts in the first place. I tend to use humor as a defense mechanism when I’m insecure, which you may notice later on in this post. It's actually very, very easy to make these shorts – I just don’t know how to explain it. Imagine a medium neck cowl, sown together in the middle of one end and there you have it!

I only use approximate measurements, mostly because if it doesn’t fit – I make it fit. I also prefer a bit of room in my clothes for more comfort.

  • Approximately 3 balls of yarn. (I personally used PT2. PT2 is a 100% natural Norwegian wool of highest quality, which is available here.)
  • 5 mm (US8) circular needles. You could also knit this back and forth on straight needles, but I prefer circular ones.
  • First of: buy the yarn. Pretty self explanatory, but I thought I’d mention it just in case.
  • Second: buy the needles. You will be needing them of the actual making the shorts.
  • Third: if your mom or another friend is doing it for you, ignore the steps above and buy chocolate, flowers, wine, strawberries, scented candles and a pair of great shoes with a card that says “thank you for doing this for me”.
  • Then; measure the length between your waist and crotch to get the approximate height of the shorts, which in my case was about 25 cm. Remember these are just ish-measurements, and I’m a size small. I didn’t have to measure the width of my bum-area because the circular needles where a perfect match to my size, but I suggest you do it and add a few cm for good luck.
How to:
  • This is the tricky part; for me. I chose to knit my shorts in a loose pattern of 5x5 ribs (knit 5, purl 5). Start by casting on that circular needle and measure as you go. When it comes to the width of the shorts I suggest you stretch the yarn and keep going until you reach your own measurements. Very unspecific, I know, but true nonetheless. Then you just keep knitting in circles until you reach you preferred height and remember to cast off every tenth stitch of every third row of the purl to get that defined waist. When you've reached your measurements and finished casting of, lay it flat and measure so that you find the middle (of the wide end). Sew together 2-4 cm using the same type of yarn.
So, to sum up:
  • Cast on (your measurement) and knit approximate 4/5 rows of 5x5 ribs (knit 5, purl 5).
  • Cast of every 10th stitch of every 3rd row of the purled stitches, while continuing the 5x5 ribs.
  • Cast of loosely when finished*.
  • Sew together 2-5 cm in the middle of the bottom part and fix those little beauty flaws.
The best tips I have is to use your own creativity to decide what you prefer. This is only a vague guide. You can have a cleaner look with simple stitches alone, or make it even more complex with the patterns of your choice. You can use super-thick yarn to make chunky shorts, or make tight ones with thread-thin yarn. The last option is an everlasting project, I think. There are thousands of blogs and sites about knitting and recipes to guide you. The problem I have is that I took it straight out of my own imagination, and just knitted in circles, casting off to suit my waist, until I was satisfied - but I really hope this help you guys a little bit!

Good luck!

*Remember to cast off somewhat loose in the end so that you don't have to redo it all when you don't get it over your bum, like I did.

My knit shorts:
Lovely friends who have tried it so far:

Let me know if you've tried it, so that I can link back to you!


  1. Anonymous1:45 PM

    oooooh nice shorts ;))

  2. utrolig bra jobba barbro! så fine shorts- skulle önske jeg kunne strikke.
    du burde åpne en nettbutikk! jeg vil også ha ;)

  3. It's officially my life goal to make these gorgeous things.


  4. I'm SO gonna try this!! Thank you for explaining!

  5. Sadly I don't know how to knit :(

    So I may follow step three and ask my mum to help!!

    I'm going to make them, well, my mom is going to :)
    I really love them, they look warm, comfy, and sexy.
    Here in Chile, it was a "tradition" as a child wear red knit underwear on winter (people say that red make them warmer, wtf?) I wore it one time. Horrible. I trought them on my mom's face and I said never again, so I'm sure that my mom is going to remember that as soon as I show her this.
    This shorts are on my winter list :)

  7. Thanks for sharing! They look great. I might try this when I finish my 3 crochet projects that I have going on:)


  8. love your style...is great!!!!
    follow u now...
    beautiful post

  9. Dette innlegget er på forsiden av Femelle.no. :)

  10. I love knit BUT i don't have a skill like you. ;(. This is good sharing. Love it!! xo

  11. Tara Snyder1:23 AM

    Yes!! I'm soo happy you made a tutorial this really made my day, the only this is I have to learn how to knit better!! I can't wait to attempt to make a pair!! Thank you soo much for posting this, you're amazing!!

  12. i love this tutorial and your pictures are amazing, i've only knitted one scarf before too, so i have a question, what do you mean by "Cast of every 10th stitch of every 3rd row of the purled stitches...." i really want to make these! i would super apperciate if you replied! thank you!

  13. i just did the last question "Cast of every 10th stitch .." and my last email address went haywire, but this email should work hopefully! please reply to this one, thank you!

  14. Thank you all for the wonderful feedback! I really appreciate it <3

    To Lisa:

    Thank you! I'm so glad you decided to make them! Your blogger profile isn't working, so I'll try to answer here.

    I mean that to get a defined waist you have to cast of some stitches in between. I don't know the correct term, I'm afraid, but "cast off/combine stitches" is my best guess :) I really hope it helps!

  15. Omg your d.i.y is so brilliant! Well constructed, i love it. I wish i could do this, i am really not good with knitting, sigh.

  16. I just found this through A pair and a spare (http://apair-andaspare.blogspot.com/2011/03/diy-knitted-shorts.html) and I'm amazed – such a great idea and simple pattern! I also have trouble following strict knitting patterns and pretty much wing it as I go, so this is the ideal tutorial for me – constructed to be flexible. Awesome job.

    I am totally having a go at this – will keep you posted about the result! :)


    PS. I'd love it if you enabled the option to comment with name and URL as I for example blog on my own site (http://malinhanas.com/blog) and not with any of the OpenID or Blogger options.

    1. Hi Malin!

      I'm so glad you enjoyed my post! I would love to see the shorts once you finish them!

      I've enabled the options to post comments so that everyone can do it - thanks for letting me know!

  17. Anonymous7:52 PM

    I like your knitted shorts, they look really nice! Sadly I'm not good at knitting, I prefer sewing, but maybe I'll try your tutorial some day :)

    1. Thank you so much! I'm really glad you like them! Hope to see you try it someday!

  18. I'm definately going to attempt this! Ive never knitted with circular needles before, so I'm having a bit of trouble wrapping my head around this, but I'm sure I'll get it eventually.


    1. That's so great! Let me know if you did, and I'll add you to the link list! The more, the merrier :D

  19. I am about to try this! a little confused but I'll just see where it takes me. How are the legs holes made? Do you make 2 pieces and then sew them together?

    1. Awesome! I knitted them on circular needles and sew one end together :)

  20. Love these!! I made these and posted on my blog. Thanks heaps

  21. Very nice post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to mention that I've truly enjoyed browsing your blog posts. After all I will be subscribing to your feed and I hope you write again very soon!

    1. Thank you, Michael - that's so sweet of you! Glad you like it!

  22. Wow these are really awesome!
    check out my jean shorts at


  23. the lilac ones are so pretty! I wish I didn't feel so apathetic towards knitting, I love crochet though!
    ♥ Meghan

    1. Thank you, Meghan! I bet you could crochet a pair, though!

  24. So if I were to knit this on straight needles will I still be able to cast on the width of the shorts or do I cast on the height of the shorts? Since straight needles aren't as long as circular needles. ^^

    1. Hi! It depends on the length of the needles and how long you want them to be. I doubt regular needles will be enough, though ;)

  25. Anonymous11:51 AM

    I loved this post and wish I was better at knitting so I could make these!

    Thought I would let you know that I featured it on my blog. The post can be found here http://stringingpopcorn.com/2013/05/26/seven-sites-on-sunday/

    If you aren't okay with that I can remove it.

    Again, thanks for the awesome post! :)

    1. Oh, I'm so happy to hear that! And thank you so much for featuring me on your blog, I really appreciate that! <3

      What size are you? I might have a pair or two laying around here in black! ;)

  26. Hi Barbro

    I love your blog and tutorials how sweet of you to take the time! I am knitting up these shorts now
    I would like to use straight needles because I don't have the correct size for the circular needle I have (4.5mm) I believe you need size 8 (5 mm) soo I wanted to give it a whirl on straight needles with size 8 would the instructions be the same as using circular needles? How would I sew the pieces together would i make two?Also at the end making the crotch stitch? Thank you so much for this pattern can't wait to continue working on them(:<3

  27. Hi! These look great, thank you for the pattern!
    I'm going to have a go at making some (just in charcoal) for my ballet classes to keep my hip muscles warm and working.
    Should the rows be parallel to the needles? I just cast on and started a first row doing it the other way but I think I'm already doing it wrong, because I'm not sure how to do the cast offs this way. :')


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