advertisement

Free EBooks

Topics

Tags

How to Graft Stitches Top-to-Top

Jul 8, 2013

   
The Regatta Tee by Olga Casey
The Regatta Tee by Olga Casey is a huge hit! Since the Summer 2013 Interweave Knits hit the newsstands with this top on the cover, everyone wants to make it. I can certainly see why; the combination of thin red stripes and a lace yoke make you want to step onto a sailboat and head towards the horizon!

It's all in the details here. The body of the tee is worked in reverse stockinette up to the lace knitting section at the yoke. The lace pattern adds just the right amount of flirty flair. And the seams are worked inside out, so the selvage shows on the outside. So fashionable.

The shoulders have a seam, but it's invisible because it's grafted. Here's senior project editor Joni Coniglio to teach you how to make an invisible shoulder seam like those on the Regatta Tee.

Grafting Top-to-Top

When you graft live stitches on the front needle to live stitches on the back needle top-to-top, you are creating two distinct pattern rows simultaneously, one on each needle. Moreover, because the wrong side of the work on the back needle is facing you as you graft the stitches from right to left (assuming that you are grafting right-handed), the pattern row on this needle is being grafted in reverse. And, if that's not enough to make your brain start hurting, there's one more thing: the pattern stitches on the back needle are upside down and shifted a half stitch to the left in relation to the pattern stitches on the front needle!

But I'm getting a little ahead of myself. Let's back up a few steps.

As I said earlier, when the live stitches on the front needle are grafted to the live stitches on the back needle, two pattern rows (one on each needle) are created simultaneously. What makes this possible is the serpentine structure of the knitted row (or, in this case, the grafted row).

    
Illustration 1

Illustration 1 shows a row of four grafted stitches, with the rows above and below it omitted. The four X's at the top of the row indicate the top loops of the grafted stitches that are a continuation of the pattern on the front needle. There is another row of loops that runs along the bottom of the row and faces in the opposite direction. These four loops, also marked by X's, are a continuation of the pattern on the back needle. The tops of the loops grafted on the front needle form the running threads between the loops grafted on the back needle, and the running threads between the loops grafted on the front needle form the tops of the loops grafted on the back needle.

    

Illustration 2
It helps to look at each pattern row first individually, then show how the two rows fit together into one grafted row. In traditional Kitchener stitch, the type of grafting you might use to close the toe of sock, the stockinette stitch pattern is continued on each of the stitches on the front needle (illustration 2) by drawing the yarn through the loop on the needle first purlwise (leaving the stitch on the needle because the yarn needs to go through each stitch twice) and knitwise (removing the stitch from the needle because the stitch is now complete). I like to use chart symbols to represent the loops on the needle.

The grafted stockinette stitch pattern on the back needle (illustration 3) looks identical to the pattern on the front needle (and is), but it's achieved in an entirely different way.

    
Illustration 3
In top-to-top grafting, the stitches on the back needle are oriented upside down in relation to the stitches on the front needle and are shifted a half-stitch to the left (illustration 4). In addition, they are grafted with the wrong side of the work facing the knitter, so the stockinette stitch on the back needle is achieved by working a purl graft on the purl side of the work. A purl graft is the exact opposite of a knit graft: the yarn is drawn through the loop on the needle knitwise (leaving the stitch on the needle), then purlwise (removing the stitch from the needle). Since the row is grafted from right to left (assuming you are grafting right-handed), each pattern row on each needle progresses from right to left, as well.

   
Illustration 4
Illustration 5
As the row is grafted, the grafting yarn alternates between the stitches on the two needles (illustration 5), going through the first half of a stitch on the front needle, then moving to the back needle and going through the first half of a stitch on that needle (the two set-up steps). It then moves to the front needle again and goes through the second half of the first stitch and the first half of the next stitch, then moves to the back needle where it goes through the second half of the first stitch and the first half of the next stitch. The sequence of second half/first half on each needle is repeated across the row until one stitch remains on each needle. The row ends with the yarn going through the second half of each remaining stitch. Each time the second half of a stitch is worked, it is removed from the needle.

Hopefully, breaking the process down in this way will make the grafting process seem a little less mysterious. In fact, the steps follow a very logical order. Below are the written instructions for stockinette stitch grafting. By comparing each step of the instructions to the path the arrows take through the chart symbols in illustration 5, it is easy to see how the steps relate to the creation of the pattern on each needle.

Begin with two set-up steps:

  • Purlwise through the first stitch on the front needle, leave the stitch on the needle.
  • Knitwise through the first stitch on the back needle, leave the stitch on the needle.

    Repeat four steps until 1 stitch remains on each needle:

  • Knitwise through the stitch on the front needle, remove the stitch from the needle.
  • Purlwise through the next stitch on the front needle, leave the stitch on the needle.
  • Purlwise through the stitch on the back needle, remove the stitch from the needle.
  • Knitwise through the next stitch on the back needle, leave the stitch on the needle.

    End with two steps:

  • Knitwise through the last stitch on the front needle, remove the stitch from the needle.
  • Purlwise through the last stitch on the back needle, remove the stitch from the needle.

By the way, the grafting chart could just as easily have consisted of two stitches on each row, instead of four. The chart only needs to be as large as the smallest multiple of the stitch pattern (and a minimum of two stitches).

Pretty much any pattern can be charted in similar fashion (and I usually just use a piece of graph paper and a pencil for this).

—Joni Coniglio, Inside Knits, December 2011

All of this makes so much sense! Maybe I can finally get over my fear of grafting and quit using the 3-needle bind-off all the time.

For more incredible information like this, subscribe to Interweave Knits today!

Cheers,

P.S. What helps you acheive success with grafting? Share your tips in the comments below!


Related Posts
+ Add a comment

Comments

Ilehlia wrote
on Jul 18, 2013 5:10 PM

To 18rainy22, to graft you need live stitches, not a bound off edge, so you would probably want to do the sloped shoulders using short rows, not graduated binding off.  Then you could graft them and they would have the slope built in.  I use short rows to slope shoulders that I then bind off with the 3-needle bind-off.

Ilehlia wrote
on Jul 18, 2013 4:54 PM

What's wrong with 3-needle bind-off?  Last I heard, IT was all the in thing.  I like it, because it provides a sturdy seam, still with some give.  I wouldn't want to graft all shoulders, because on some garments the shoulders would stretch too much.  It's probably fine for something sleeveless like this top.  I wouldn't use it on a sweater with sleeves.  If you want an invisible but sturdy shoulder seam, the method of weaving the yarn under the legs of the stitches on each side of the seam looks like grafting but is stronger and won't stretch.

18rainy22 wrote
on Jul 15, 2013 12:19 PM

Can you recommend how you would graft a shoulder seam where the pattern is directing a 3-stage bindoff? For example, cast off 13 first row, then purl a row, then cast off 10 more, etc. on each of the next two knit rows, causing a graduated shaping.

Thanks!

Li-hsia wrote
on Jul 13, 2013 2:00 PM

just like the toe of a sock...

turtlecat wrote
on Jul 13, 2013 12:57 PM

I've never heard of grafting, so I was very curious to learn how to do an invisible seam.  I read this whole thing and was completely lost, because I was thinking about doing this with a knitting needle and it did not make sense at all.  it wasn't until I read the blog associated with the email referring to this that it mentioned a tapestry needle.  Well, duh, but for newbies, I think you need to mention that!

Knithis wrote
on Jul 10, 2013 8:53 PM

Dear Ms. Cubley,

As the Editor of Knitting Daily you should be aware of offensive text being used by Caitlin at the following link where she refers to a German extermination camp in Poland as "Polish", thereby insinuating that the camp was Polish, when in fact millions of Poles perished at the hands of the German ***, many in these camps.

Sensitivity to the families of those who suffered is in order and a change should be made.

www.knittingdaily.com/.../kt-post.aspx

Please take corrective action.

Dot Fisher wrote
on Jul 9, 2013 9:27 PM

I've simpllfyed the kitchener stitch into a short hand of pf, *kb, kfd ,pf, pkd* or even simpler, needle in drop - needle out hold

JOG wrote
on Jul 8, 2013 7:46 PM

How timely!  I just looked this up last night for a scarf that needed to be grafted in the center.  This is the ONLY instruction I found (in 30 minutes of searching) that explains top to top grafting.  Every other instruction assumes you're grafting the toe of a sock or other single piece item.  It's all the same except the setup.  THANK YOU for the detailed introduction.  It looks a little scary, but it just tees you up for the step-by-step instructions.

nanalisette wrote
on Jul 8, 2013 2:16 PM

I just finished reading the technique for grafting top to top and have a minor correction for the email sent on 07/08...email says front for both of these end steps.  Seems it is correct here on the website.

End with two steps:

Knitwise through the last stitch on the front needle, remove the stitch from the needle.

Purlwise through the last stitch on the back needle, remove the stitch from the needle.

on Jul 8, 2013 10:30 AM

Catherine Grace and Bernita:

Whoops, yes indeed, the very last step should say "back needle," instead of "front needle." Thanks for pointing that out.

Joni

Bernita wrote
on Jul 8, 2013 10:04 AM

Could we get clarification on the last 2 rows.  The instructions before the 4 step repeats say to:  Repeat four steps until 1 stitch remains on each needle:

I can't do 2 steps on 1 needle if I only have 1 stitch on each needle.  Should the last step be:

Purlwise through the last stitch on the back needle and slip stitch from the needle.

sreit wrote
on Jul 8, 2013 8:42 AM

Nice explanation of the THEORY of grafting.  I've found that just by carefully and slowly following the written instuctions (purwise through this stitch-leave on needle-knitwise through that stitch, etc) works very well for me and is easy to memorize each time I have to do it.  With a key chain card always with me, the instructons are always available.  And it doesn't really matter whether you have the front piece in front of you or the back piece in front of you when grafting.  Also, It is usually recommended that you have the grafting yarn coming from the right and from the piece of knitting that is in the back - and don't pull the yarn too tightly.  Attention lefties: unless you are used to reversing instructions anyway, I find it easier to just graft right-handed.

kmd52 wrote
on Jul 8, 2013 8:36 AM

Isn't this the Kitchener Stitch?

MarianSylvia wrote
on Jul 8, 2013 8:03 AM

Something it took me a while to pick up on was that the yarn needed to stay BELOW the needles.

on Jul 8, 2013 7:36 AM

This is an outstanding presentation of grafting! Terrific text and the illustrations are perfect! Thanks for this. (One teeny note: I believe the very last instruction should say "Purlwise through the last stitch on the back needle, remove the stitch from the needle." Pretty sure no one will be confused, though--not after that excellent explanation!)