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5 Grafting Myths: MYTH #5 The grafting yarn must come from the back needle

Apr 22, 2014

(Plus, an excerpt from my next series of blog posts: Grafting Lace Patterns Invisibly)

The origin of this grafting myth is a bit of a mystery. My guess is that it derives from the fact that for a long time, Kitchener stitch grafting was used primarily for joining live stitches on the toes of socks and the grafting yarn would just naturally be coming from the back needle in preparation for grafting the stitches from right to left. But that's just a guess. However it originated, it seems to be an enduring myth because it pops up time and time again in grafting tutorials (and for items other than socks).

Some tutorials even recommend cutting and rejoining the yarn if it happens to be on the front needle. Other tutorials suggest that the grafting steps must start on whichever needle the yarn is not attached to. This means that the steps would need to be reversed if the grafting yarn is on the front needle. In my opinion, this just makes the grafting process overly complicated, and for no real reason (especially since many knitters find grafting challenging enough as it is). I always start the grafting steps on the front needle, regardless of whether I'm using the yarn from the front or back needle. The pieces on the separate needles will be connected no matter what, and whether that happens on the first step or the second makes no difference.

I've grafted all manner of patterns over the years and I've never worried about what needle the grafting yarn is attached to. My only requirement when it comes to yarn placement is that the yarn needs to be at the right-hand side of the work because I graft from right to left across the row. Whether the grafting yarn is coming from the front or back needle is a purely "accidental" result of the last pattern row I worked on each needle. 

For example, for this lace cowl, I ended with a wrong-side row on the front needle, which left the yarn at the right-hand side of the work. On the back needle, I cast on provisionally and started the pattern with a right-side row, so the yarn tail from the cast-on was on the left-hand side and unavailable. Therefore, I used the yarn from the front needle for grafting.
Here's the grafting after a few stitches and I'm happy with the results. The edges are nice and clean and the stitches on both needles are aligning the way I want them to.
Try experimenting on a couple of swatches and see what you think. Graft one swatch using the yarn from the front needle and one using the yarn from the back needle and see if you can tell if there's any appreciable difference between the two. I'd be interested in hearing your results.

This concludes my series on grafting myths. I hope you've enjoyed it and that you'll join me for my next series on grafting lace. Here's an excerpt:

GRAFTING LACE PATTERNS INVISIBLY

  For this pattern, I picked Rows 1 and 2 of the chart for the grafting rows. I could have picked any two rows, but I prefer rows that don't have too much going on. Plain knit rows are the easiest rows to graft because you can just use Kitchener stitch, but it's not always possible to find two consecutive Stockinette rows in a pattern, and so you have to go with the next best thing. In this pattern, there are yarnovers and decreases on every other row, so it was impossible to avoid them completely when grafting. In cases like that, I make sure the trickier maneuvers fall on the front needle instead of the back needle so they're right in front of me as I work. Because I wanted to avoid having a cable crossing fall on one of the grafting rows, that left Rows 1, 3, 7 and 9 as possibilities for the front needle graft. (It isn't difficult to graft cables, but I wanted to avoid them if I could).

The stitch pattern is a multiple of 10 stitches, plus 3, and I cast on 63 stitches. Because the cowl is being grafted top-to-bottom (the last row joined to the cast-on row) I picked up an extra half stitch at each edge of the back needle stitches as described here and in other posts in this grafting series, so that I have a total of 64 loops on the back needle and 63 loops on the front needle. I blocked the cowl before grafting to even out the stitches and to make it easier to adjust the tension of the grafted stitches.


I draw a "cheat sheet" in the form of a chart that shows the grafting steps (K for Knitwise and P for Purlwise) for each needle. The top row of the grafting chart shows the grafting steps on the back needle that will create Row 2 of the stitch pattern. The bottom row shows the grafting steps on the front needle that will create Row 1 of the stitch pattern. There are no letters in the boxes with yarnover symbols because those steps are simply skipped.

In top-to-bottom grafting, each grafted stitch follows the same path (see the arrows on the grafting chart):
1. Through the stitch on the front needle (FN), leave the stitch on the needle.
2. Through the first stitch on the back needle (BN), remove the stitch from the needle.
3. Through the next stitch on the back needle, leave the stitch on the needle.
4. Through the stitch on the front needle, remove the stitch from the needle.

To graft yarnovers on the front needle, Steps 1 and 4 are skipped and you just work the steps on the back needle (Steps 2 and 3). The decreases on the front needle are grafted just like knit stitches, except that you go through two stitches at a time (for an ssk decrease, the stitches must first be rearranged so that they are oriented correctly, with the right leg of the stitch in back of the needle).

The tick marks above the chart help me keep track of my progress as I graft each stitch.

Here are the written steps for grafting the lace pattern and how they relate to the steps on the cheat sheet:

       

Step 1: Pwise through st on FN, leave.
Step 2: Kwise through st on BN, remove.
Step 3: Pwise through next st on BN, leave.
Step 4: Kwise through st on FN, remove.
Rep Steps 1-4 two more times.
*Step 5: Skip step on FN and go to next step on BN.
Step 6: Pwise through st on BN, remove.
Step 7: Kwise through next st on BN, leave.
Step 8: Skip step on FN and go to next step on FN.

Step 9: Pwise through first 2 sts on FN (as if to p2tog), leave.

Step 10: Pwise through st on BN, remove.

Step 11: Kwise through next st on BN, leave.

Step 12: Kwise through 2 sts on FN (as if to k2tog), remove.

Steps 13-16: Rep Steps 1-4 three times.
Step 17: Before grafting an ssk, the stitches on the left needle must be reoriented so that the right leg of each stitch is in back of the needle. In this configuration, the purl side of the stitches faces to the left, and the knit side of the stitches faces to the right: With tapestry needle, sl 2 sts on FN kwise, one at a time, then return the sts to left needle in new positions.
 Insert tapestry needle pwise through first 2 sts on left needle (the tip of the tapestry needle should be pointing to the right), leave.

Step 18: Pwise through st on BN, remove.
Step 19: Kwise through next st on BN, leave.
Step 20: Kwise through 2 sts on FN (the tip of the tapestry needle should be pointing to the left), remove.
Steps 21-24: Rep Steps 5-8.

Step 25: Pwise through st on FN, leave.
Step 26: Pwise through st on BN, remove.
Step 27: Kwise through next st on BN, leave.
Step 28: Kwise through st on FN, remove.
Rep Steps 25-28 two more times.

Rep from * 4 more times—10 sts rem on FN and 11 sts rem on BN. 

Steps 29-32: Rep Steps 5-8.
Steps 33-36: Rep Steps 9-12.
Steps 37-40: Rep Steps 1-4 three times.

Steps 41-44: Rep Steps 17-20.
Steps 45-48: Rep Steps 5-8.
Steps 49-52: Rep Steps 1-4 three times.

I usually block the grafted area of the cowl again to smooth out the stitches. In this photo, the yarn ends at the left-hand side are the only indication that the two ends were grafted together.

I hope you'll join me as I explore different aspects of grafting lace patterns invisibly, including grafting decreases (single and double) and yarnovers, both top-to-top and top-to-bottom.

 

 


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Comments

Inside Knits wrote
on Dec 16, 2014 6:13 PM

Joni's Grafting Blogs Does a Grafted Row Count as One or Two Pattern Rows? (Part 1) Grafting In Pattern

JeanneS@13 wrote
on Jul 8, 2014 10:22 AM

Please consider putting this series into a free e-book, so that we can consult all of the parts together!  What a helpful resource -- thank you!