Tutorial: Grafting in pattern

I thought it was about time I made a tutorial explaining how to graft in pattern – it’s a technique I use often, and it’s required for a neat finish on a number of my patterns, including Nennir, Cinioch and Tallorcen.

Regular grafting in stockinette – also called Kitchener stitch – is a technique that uses a darning needle and yarn to sew live sts together in a way that perfectly imitates a row of knitting. Done properly, with close attention paid to the tension of the yarn, it can be completely invisible. It also has the advantage of joining sts together without the bulk of a seam, which is why it’s often used to close sock toes. Grafting in pattern – i.e. grafting across a row of mixed knit and purl sts – is not significantly difficult, if you already know how to graft in stockinette. I’m going to assume in this tutorial that you do already know stockinette grafting – if not, I recommend reading this and having a practise before attempting to graft in pattern!

I find that grafting is all about rhythm, and mantra – in stockinette grafting, everything goes fine as long as I repeat in my head “Knit off, purl on… purl on, knit off”. Or even just “Knit, purl… purl, knit,” because once you get into the rhythm of slipping off the first stitch on front and back needle, and leaving the second stitch on, it becomes second nature.

Here’s a condensed guide to how to graft in pattern, which will make more sense once you look at the photos and video below:

(F = front needle, B = back needle)

2 (or more) k sts on F
(Stockinette grafting)

F: knit off, purl on
B: purl off, knit on

1 k st, 1 p st on F
F: knit off, knit on
B: knit off, purl on

1 p st, 1 k st on F
F: purl off, purl on
B: purl off, knit on

2 (or more) p sts on F
(Reverse stockinette grafting)

F: purl off, knit on
B: knit off, purl on

Firstly, something very important indeed – grafting in pattern will only work perfectly if the direction of knitting is preserved in the two pieces being grafted together. In other words – if you make two separate cabled panels, worked from the CO up, and then tried to graft the live sts together, there will be a half-stitch jog. The cable sections – usually columns of 2 k sts over a purl background – will not align perfectly and it might look a bit strange. Imagine an arrow that starts at your CO edge and points up towards your live sts. If you’re trying to graft two pieces together and the arrows point at each other, you will have the half-stitch jog.

If you start a cabled panel with a provisional CO, work for as long as the panel needs to be, then graft your live sts to the sts held by the provisional CO, then the direction of knitting is preserved and the sts will all align perfectly. This is often the construction used in cabled hat bands, cowls, waistbands, cuffs, etc.

If you’d like to follow along with the tutorial, CO 23 sts using any standard CO (like long-tail) and work as follows for a few rows:
RS: k4, p4, k2, p3, k2, p4, k4.
WS: p4, k4, p2, k3, p2, k4, p4.
Leave the live sts on the needle.

Then CO 23 sts using provisional CO, work for a few rows in the above stitch pattern and BO. Undo the provisional CO and slip the 23 sts onto a needle.

You should have something like this:

image2993

After grafting the first few stitches as for regular stockinette, stop when you have a k st followed by a p st on your front needle! It will look like this:

P1010802

For the transitions between k and p sts, the way in which you insert the needle has to change slightly. So, insert the needle knitwise (and slip st off, not shown):

F: Knit off...

F: Knit off…

Then insert needle knitwise (and leave st on, pull yarn through):

F: Knit on...

F: Knit on…

On the back needle, insert needle knitwise (and slip st off, not shown):

B: Knit off...

B: Knit off…

Then insert needle purlwise (and leave st on, pull yarn through):

B: Purl on...

B: Purl on…

After this, it’s reverse stockinette grafting for a few sts. So, like regular grafting but backwards! Purl off, knit on… knit off, purl on. Like so!:

F: Purl off...

F: Purl off…

F: Knit on...

F: Knit on…

B: Knit off...

B: Knit off…

B: Purl on...

B: Purl on…

Continue in reverse stockinette grafting, until the next 2 sts on the front needle are a p st followed by a k st. Like this:

P1010811

This time the pattern needs to be purl off, purl on… purl off, knit on:

F: Purl off...

F: Purl off…

F: Purl on...

F: Purl on…

B: Purl off...

B: Purl off…

B: Knit on...

B: Knit on…

And that’s everything you need to know to graft in pattern! Continue to work across the row. Remember: if you have 2 or more k sts next on your front needle, you use stockinette grafting. If you have 2 or more p sts on your front needle, you use reverse stockinette grafting. It’s the transitions between k and p sts that you have to watch out for!

Finished result, after tension has been adjusted a little bit along the grafting line:

P1010819

As you can see (I hope!), if I hadn’t used a different coloured yarn for the graft, the result would be practically invisible.

Hope this tutorial was helpful and feel free to ask any questions!

P.S. Here’s a video demonstrating the grafting in progress:

Scribblebook Wednesday #2 – Pi!

P1010779

Another Wednesday, another wanton baring of my messy, messy notebooks… In this particular installment, I am dredging up some equations involving Pi from the murky depths of memory, in order to calculate measurements for a circular shawl knitted from the outside in. Also, some Celtic knotwork doodles (showing a little of the underlying grids used in construction) and some completely unrelated writing in Greek (I’m trying to learn Greek at the moment… as much as I try to keep my notebooks solely design-focused, sometimes other bits and pieces creep in inevitably!)

Scribblebook Wednesday #1 – Nennir knotwork

Due to my apparent complete lack of ability to keep this blog updated regularly, I’ve decided to take some inspiration from the wonderful world of Havi Brooks, of The Fluent Self. She has a couple of weekly blog rituals, and I thought it might be fun to do something similar here. When I’m designing, I tend to work stuff out visually, pencil and paper and graphs, and as a result, I have lots and lots of design notebooks filled with drawings, charts, calculations, etc. I am by no means any kind of artist, I like to draw out my ideas, but they are definitely scribbles rather than sketches. I always find it fascinating to see other designers’ notebooks, so henceforth, every Wednesday I shall show you a page or two of my own. It may not always be pretty but I hope it may at least be an entertaining little peek into my designing process. 🙂
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This page shows me working out the Celtic knotwork panel for Nennir (which was published in Knitty Winter 2012 – probably the most exciting thing to happen to me in quite some time!). You can see that I played with a few different variations of the shape of the knot before deciding on one that I liked best. The pencil sketch in the top left corner shows how I’ve constructed the knotwork – this is a technique I learnt from the writings of George Bain and Aidan Meehan. This is how I usually work when designing Celtic cables – I play around until I’ve drawn a cable I like, then I look long and hard at it and figure how to translate it into knitted cables. Usually I pick a spot in the centre of the knot and work outwards symmetrically. Maybe one day I’ll do a series of posts on my techniques of translating drawn Celtic knots to knitted Celtic knots, but it’s a complex process, so I shall stop there for now!

If any other designers would like to share some pages from their notebooks, I’d love to see them! 🙂