# 5 Grafting Myths: MYTH #3 (Part 1)

MYTH #3: A GRAFTED ROW IS THE EQUIVALENT OF ONE PATTERN ROW (PART 1).

*Note The written instructions for all the grafted stitch patterns referred to can be found at the end of the post.

Most knitters who are familiar with Kitchener stitch wouldn’t consider it grafting “in pattern.” That term is usually reserved for a pattern such as ribbing or seed stitch that involves grafting both knit and purl stitches. What many knitters don’t realize, however, is that when they graft stitches using the Kitchener stitch mantra, “knit off, purl on, purl off, knit on,” they actually are grafting purl stitches, in addition to knit stitches. Instead of creating a single knit row when they graft, they are creating two distinct pattern rows: a purl row on the back needle with the wrong side facing, and a knit row on the front needle with the right side facing.

At first glance, this might seem implausible, even ridiculous. Clearly, the grafted row is only one row, so how can it be two pattern rows? It all comes down to the definition of a “pattern row.” Knitted fabric is made up of a series of interlocking rows of loops. Each pattern row is defined by the way the row of loops intersects with the row below it. And because the grafted row intersects with two rows of live loops, two pattern rows result.

 Figure 1 Figure 2

Perhaps the best way to demonstrate this is to compare a stitch chart of garter stitch (Fig. 1) with an illustration of garter stitch fabric (Fig. 2). The stitch chart is really a map of the intersection of the loops. If we superimposed the chart over the illustration, each chart row would contain the lower half of one row of loops and the upper half of the row of loops directly below it. For example, each dotted row of the chart (representing the purl ridges) would contain the lower half of an un-shaded row and the upper half of a shaded row. Each blank row of the chart (representing the knit valleys) would contain the lower half of a shaded row and the upper half of an un-shaded row. Thus, each row of loops (shaded or un-shaded) spans two chart rows because it intersects with two other rows of loops, one row below it and one row above it. If we removed one of the shaded rows of loops from the garter stitch fabric and then grafted it back in again, we’d have to take two chart rows into account by grafting a knit valley row on the front needle and a purl ridge row on the back needle. (Note: For this article, we are not concerned so much with how the garter stitch fabric is achieved or how to set up the placement of the grafting yarn. Our focus is primarily on what the fabric looks like as it’s viewed from the right side of the work and the effect that grafting has on it. Therefore, the terms “knit” and “purl” refer to the appearance of a row on the right side of the work, not the mechanics involved in creating a particular pattern row.)

 Figure 3 Figure 4

In the first post of this series we showed how knit and purl stitches can be grafted on both the front and back needles in both stockinette stitch and k1, p1 ribbing. In stockinette stitch grafting (Fig. 3), the grafting yarn goes through each stitch on the front needle purlwise and knitwise, resulting in a row of knit stitches. On the back needle, the grafting yarn goes through each stitch knitwise and purlwise, resulting in a row of purl stitches. Because the stitches on the back needle are grafted with the wrong side facing, the purl row looks like a knit row when viewed from the right side of the work.

The only difference between grafting in stockinette stitch and grafting k1, p1 ribbing top-to-top is the location of the individual knit and purl stitch grafts relative to the front and back needles. The mechanics involved in grafting each knit or purl stitch are exactly the same in both cases. In stockinette stitch grafting, the grafted purl stitches are all on the back needle and the grafted knit stitches are all on the front needle, whereas with k1, p1 ribbing, there are grafted knit and purl stitches on both needles (Fig. 4). In the ribbing pattern shown here, the front needle begins and ends with a knit stitch, while the ribbing pattern on the back needle begins and ends with a purl stitch because we are seeing the wrong side of the work on that needle.

 Figure 5 Figure 6

The serpentine structure of the grafted row makes it possible to create two completely separate pattern rows while joining two sets of live stitches (Figs. 5 and 6). In top-to-top grafting, the tops of the grafted stitches on the front needle form the running threads between the grafted stitches on the back needle, and vice versa.

The fact that two pattern rows are being created when stitches are grafted might not be that obvious (or even matter all that much) with stitch patterns such as stockinette stitch and k1, p1 ribbing where all the rows look the same. It becomes more of an issue when grafting stitch patterns such as garter stitch or seed stitch. With these patterns, or any pattern where the appearance of the rows changes, not only must the grafted steps be adjusted to reflect the desired pattern on each needle, but you must also make sure to end with the correct pattern row on each needle so as not to interrupt the pattern flow. And this requires a little planning ahead. In this post, we’ll look at how this works with garter stitch. In subsequent posts, we’ll look at more complex patterns such as seed stitch, cables and even lace.

GRAFTING GARTER STITCH
There are three ways to achieve a garter stitch fabric when knitting: by knitting every row, by purling every row, or if you’re working circularly, by alternating a knit round with a purl round. All three will result in alternating rows of purl ridge rows and knit valley rows. Since the grafting itself will result in two pattern rows, and the garter stitch pattern basically has a two-row repeat, it will be necessary to graft a purl ridge row on one needle and a knit valley row on the other needle. In addition, each piece on the front and back needle must end with a pattern row that is the opposite of the one that will be grafted on that needle.

We’ll see how this works in practice, but first let’s take a look at what happens when only one pattern row is allotted for the grafting.

Tutorials for grafting garter stitch will sometimes direct knitters to end with a purl ridge row on each needle (by ending each piece with a wrong-side knit row, for example) and graft in stockinette stitch. The idea is that the grafting will supply the single knit row between the ridges. But this is not what happens, as we can see here:

 In this example, each piece ended with a purl ridge row (Fig. 7). (The arrows at the sides indicate the direction of knitting for each piece.) Figure 7 Here (Fig. 8) the two pieces are oriented as they would be for grafting, with both pieces shown as they would look if they were laid out flat on a table. Figure 8 Figure 10 Figure 9

As we saw earlier, when stitches are grafted in stockinette stitch, a knit valley row is created on both the front and back needles (Fig. 9), the equivalent of a right-side knit row and a wrong-side purl row. The stockinette stitch grafting interrupts the alternating pattern of the garter stitch by inserting a knit valley row above another knit valley row. If we were to chart the resulting stitch pattern as if it had been worked all in one piece, it would look like this (Fig. 10). On the chart, the last purl ridge row worked on the front needle is below the two rows of stockinette stitch created by grafting. The last purl ridge row worked on the back needle is above the two rows of the graft.

Another incorrect approach to grafting garter stitch sometimes seen in tutorials is to have knitters end each piece with a knit valley row and graft in reverse stockinette. The objective is the same as in the first example: to create a single pattern row with the grafting (in this case, to create a single purl ridge between two knit valley rows). But, as before, this approach doesn’t work as intended.

 In this example (Fig. 11), each piece ends with a knit valley row. Figure 11 Here again (Fig. 12), the two pieces are oriented as they would be for grafting and shown as they would look if they were laid out flat on a table. Figure 12 Figure 13 Figure 14

When the stitches are grafted in reverse stockinette stitch, a purl ridge row is created on both the front and back needles (Fig. 13), resulting in two consecutive purl ridge rows between knit valley rows. A chart of the resulting stitch pattern would look like this (Fig. 14). On the chart, the last knit valley row worked on the front needle is below the two rows of reverse stockinette stitch created by grafting. The last knit valley row worked on the back needle is above the two grafting rows.

The only way to graft garter stitch so that the pattern is maintained is to use a garter stitch graft, which means using both a knit and purl graft (as viewed from the right side of the work), one on each needle.

You have two choices when it comes to grafting in garter stitch: you can either graft a knit valley row on the front needle and a purl ridge row on the back needle, or graft a purl ridge row on the front needle and a knit valley row on the back needle. Depending on which one you choose, you must end the pattern on the front and back needles accordingly.

 For example, here (Fig. 15) we have ended with a purl ridge row on the front needle (the illustration on the left) and a knit valley row on the back needle (the illustration on the right). Figure 15 The grafting will add a knit valley row on the front needle and a purl ridge row on the back needle. Here (Fig. 16)the stitches are arranged in preparation for grafting. Figure 16 Figure 17 Figure 18

Notice that the grafting steps on each needle are identical (Fig. 17). Just as knitted garter stitch is created by knitting every row (when working back and forth), garter stitch is grafted by creating a knit row on the right side of the front needle (by going purlwise, then knitwise into every stitch), and a knit row on the wrong side of the back needle (also by going purlwise, then knitwise into every stitch). This chart (Fig. 18) shows how the two pattern rows that are a result of the grafting fit perfectly between the last purl ridge row worked on the front needle and the last knit valley row worked on the back needle.

 The second way to graft garter stitch (Fig. 19) is to end with a knit valley row on the front needle (the illustration on the left) and a purl ridge row on the back needle (the illustration on the right). The grafting will add a purl ridge row on the front needle and a knit valley row on the back needle. Figure 19 Here (Fig. 20) the stitches are arranged in preparation for grafting. Figure 20 Figure 21 Figure 22

As before, the grafting steps on each needle are identical (Fig. 21), but in this case it’s the equivalent of purling two consecutive rows (one right-side purl row and one wrong-side purl row). This chart (Fig. 22) shows how the two pattern rows that are a result of the grafting fit perfectly between the last knit valley row worked on the front needle and the last purl ridge row worked on the back needle.

PRACTICAL APPLICATIONS

Knitted accessories are big on my recipient list for Christmas this year. My daughter Gianna sent me a photo of a cowl she’d found online and asked me if I could make her one like it. Fortunately, the cowl pictured was simply a long garter stitch strip with the two short ends joined–easy enough to reverse engineer.
I had a skein of Cascade Yarns Eco Duo in my stash which worked perfectly for this project. I loved the subtle striation of dark, medium and light that resulted from working garter stitch on size US 11 (8 mm) needles with this yarn. The resulting fabric is very soft and “squishy,” very appropriate for a cowl.
I cast on provisionally by picking up 30 stitches in a waste yarn chain (leaving a long tail for grafting) (Photo 1), then beginning with a wrong-side row, I knit every row until I ran out of yarn, making sure I ended with a right-side row (Photo 2).
Since I didn’t want the color sequence to be interrupted at the join, I made sure to begin and end the strip in the middle of a dark band. When the two ends of the strip were grafted, the two halves formed one complete band (Photo 3).
I followed the steps for the second version of garter stitch grafting that results in a purl ridge row on the front needle and a knit valley row on the back needle.

 Photo 1 Photo 2 Photo 3

As promised in the 2nd post, here are photos of my completed Back Road scarf (turned cowl) by Andrea Rangel. Because I was grafting top-to-bottom, instead of top-to-top, the grafting process was a little different than I’ve described in this post, but I still needed to allow two pattern rows for the grafting. After the provisional cast-on, I started with Row 15 of the chart and ended with Row 12 before grafting. That left Row 13 for the front needle graft and Row 14 for the back needle graft. The grafted row itself was Row 13 and the provisional cast-on became Row 14 when the grafting yarn was drawn through the live loops on the back needle.

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Stockinette stitch grafting (aka Kitchener stitch):

Two set-up steps:
Step 1: Purlwise through the first stitch on the front needle, leave it on.
Step 2: Knitwise through the first stitch on the back needle, leave it on.

Repeated steps:
Step 1: Knitwise through the first stitch on the front needle, remove it.
Step 2: Purlwise through the next stitch on the front needle, leave it on.
Step 3: Purlwise through the first stitch on the back needle, remove it.
Step 4: Knitwise through the next stitch on the back needle, leave it on.

Repeat Steps 1-4 until 1 stitch remains on each needle.

Ending steps:
Step 1: Knitwise through the last stitch on the front needle, remove it.
Step 2: Purlwise through the last stitch on the back needle, remove it.

K1, p1 ribbing grafting (top-to-top):

Set-up steps:
Step 1: Purlwise through the first stitch on the front needle, leave it on.
Step 2: Knitwise through the first stitch on the back needle, leave it on.

Repeated steps:
Step 3: Knitwise through the first stitch on the front needle, remove it.
Step 4: Knitwise through the next stitch on the front needle, leave it on.
Step 5: Purlwise through the first stitch on the back needle, remove it.
Step 6: Purlwise through the next stitch on the back needle, leave it on.

Step 7: Purlwise through the first stitch on the front needle, remove it.
Step 8: Purlwise through the next stitch on the front needle, leave it on.
Step 9: Knitwise through the first stitch on the back needle, remove it.
Step 10: Knitwise through the next stitch on the back needle, leave it on.

Repeat Steps 3-10 until 1 stitch remains on each needle.

Ending steps:
Step 1: Knitwise through the last stitch on the front needle, remove it.
Step 2: Purlwise through the last stitch on the back needle, remove it.

Reverse stockinette stitch grafting:

Two set-up steps:
Step 1: Knitwise through the first stitch on the front needle, leave it on.
Step 2: Purlwise through the first stitch on the back needle, leave it on.

Repeated steps:
Step 1: Purlwise through the first stitch on the front needle, remove it.
Step 2: Knitwise through the next stitch on the front needle, leave it on.
Step 3: Knitwise through the first stitch on the back needle, remove it.
Step 4: Purlwise through the next stitch on the back needle, leave it on.

Repeat Steps 1-4 until 1 stitch remains on each needle.

Ending steps:
Step 1: Purlwise through the last stitch on the front needle, remove it.
Step 2: Knitwise through the last stitch on the back needle, remove it.

Garter stitch grafting (knit valley row on the front needle and purl ridge row on the back needle):

Two set-up steps:
Step 1: Purlwise through the first stitch on the front needle, leave it on.
Step 2: Purlwise through the first stitch on the back needle, leave it on.

Repeated steps:
Step 1: Knitwise through the first stitch on the front needle, remove it.
Step 2: Purlwise through the next stitch on the front needle, leave it on.
Step 3: Knitwise through the first stitch on the back needle, remove it.
Step 4: Purlwise through the next stitch on the back needle, leave it on.

Repeat Steps 1-4 until 1 stitch remains on each needle.

Ending steps:
Step 1: Knitwise through the last stitch on the front needle, remove it.
Step 2: Knitwise through the last stitch on the back needle, remove it.

Garter stitch grafting (purl ridge row on the front needle and knit valley row on the back needle):

Two set-up steps:
Step 1: Knitwise through the first stitch on the front needle, leave it on.
Step 2: Knitwise through the first stitch on the back needle, leave it on.

Repeated steps:
Step 1: Purlwise through the first stitch on the front needle, remove it.
Step 2: Knitwise through the next stitch on the front needle, leave it on.
Step 3: Purlwise through the first stitch on the back needle, remove it.
Step 4: Knitwise through the next stitch on the back needle, leave it on.

Repeat Steps 1-4 until 1 stitch remains on each needle.

Ending steps:
Step 1: Purlwise through the last stitch on the front needle, remove it.
Step 2: Purlwise through the last stitch on the back needle, remove it.