Grafting: It’s Not Just for Knitters, Part 2

Joni: In the first post in our series on grafting Tunisian crochet “garter stitch”, Susanna described her attempts to re-create the Audrey Super Scarf using Tunisian knit and purl stitches instead of knitted garter stitch and cables. All in all, she was very happy with the results, except when it came to joining the ends of the scarf to create a cowl. She had used a joining method commonly used by crocheters, but she didn’t like the obvious seam that resulted. So she asked me if there was a way to graft the seam invisibly, just as she had seen me do when joining the ends of a knitted cowl.

Grafting together two pieces of knitting involves using a tapestry needle to draw a long strand of yarn through live stitches on each piece. The reason the seam is so invisible is that you are actually recreating the stitch pattern when you draw the yarn through each stitch in a certain way. Thus, in order to graft successfully, it’s essential to be very familiar with the stitch pattern that is being recreated.

Because I know only the most basic crochet stitches, my first step was to ask Susanna to show me how to work Tunisian crochet.

As I worked my practice swatch, however, I realized very quickly that it was not going to be as straightforward as I had hoped. Tunisian crochet creates a highly textural fabric, with chains running horizontally through the stitches on every row. By contrast, knitted fabric is usually just a series of interconnecting loops, as can be seen in this illustration of knitted garter stitch:

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Figure 1. Knitted garter stitch CREDIT: Joni Coniglio and Ann Swanson

Recreating knitted garter stitch when grafting is simply a matter of repeating a four-step sequence.

I wondered whether it was possible to recreate a pattern as complex as Tunisian crochet garter stitch using a tapestry needle. The other problem we had to solve was that the grafting couldn’t be so complex that no one would even want to bother to try it.

As it turned out, not only were we able to come up with a grafting method that recreated the Tunisian crochet pattern almost exactly, we were also able to make the process just as simple as it is for grafting knitted garter stitch (if not more so, since there are no live stitches to worry about dropping).

But before we talk about the grafting, Susanna will explain how to work Tunisian garter stitch.

TUNISIAN GARTER STITCH

Susanna: Tunisian garter stitch, like knitted garter stitch, consists of alternating knit and purl rows. Each row is worked in two parts: a forward pass (the knit or purl row) and a return pass (the horizontal chain). To work Tunisian crochet, you’ll need a Tunisian (or Afghan) crochet hook (affiliate link), which is basically just a very long crochet hook with a stopper at one end. All the forward pass loops stay on the hook until they are worked off on the return pass.

Start by working a foundation row.

Foundation row

Chain 15. Insert hook in 2nd chain from hook (do not work into the back ridge loops—this is important if you want to recreate the Tunisian crochet pattern more closely when grafting), yarn over and pull up a loop. Complete the forward pass by picking up a loop in each remaining chain across. Now you’ll take the loops off the hook by working the return pass. Yarn over and draw through 1 loop on the hook, then *yarn over and draw through 2 loops on the hook; repeat from the * until you only have 1 loop left on your hook. This is the first loop of the next row. The foundation row is complete.

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Figure 2. Foundation row completed CREDIT: Joni Coniglio and Ann Swanson

The foundation row creates a knit row, so the next row should be a purl row.

Tunisian purl row

This row is a little tricky, but it creates an interesting-looking row. To work a Tunisian purl stitch (tps), bring the yarn to the front and insert the hook from right to left behind the front vertical bar of the 2nd stitch (don’t work in the first chain or stitch throughout unless otherwise stated), yarn over and draw a loop through and onto the hook. Create a tps in each stitch across (Figure 3). Working Tunisian purl stitches twists the knit stitches in the previous row and creates a “purl bump,” the horizontal bar at the base of the stitch.

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Figure 3. Work Tunisian purl stitch (tps) across CREDIT: Joni Coniglio and Ann Swanson

The return pass (RetP) is worked the same as for the foundation row (Figure 4).

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Figure 4. Work return pass (RetP) across CREDIT: Joni Coniglio and Ann Swanson

After the Tunisian purl row is completed, work a Tunisian knit row in two passes.

Tunisian knit row

The Tunisian knit row is somewhat similar to the foundation row, except that you’ll be working the forward pass into the Tunisian purl stitches instead of into the foundation chain. Tunisan knit stitches (tks) are created as follows: *With the yarn in back, insert the hook through the center of the 2nd Tunisian purl stitch, yarn over, draw a loop through and onto the hook; repeat from the * across (Figure 5).

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Figure 5. Work Tunisian knit stitch (tks) across CREDIT: Joni Coniglio and Ann Swanson

Work the return pass in the same way as before (Figure 6).

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Figure 6. Work RetP across CREDIT: Joni Coniglio and Ann Swanson

Continue alternating Tunisian knit and purl rows to create a garter stitch fabric.

GRAFTING TUNISIAN GARTER STITCH

Joni and Susanna: We recommend that you work a practice swatch in Tunisian garter stitch as described above to become familiar with the grafting process.

To work a practice swatch, create 2 swatches with each swatch measuring about 3–4” and ending one swatch with a Tunisian knit row. Fasten off this swatch, leaving a long tail for grafting. (Ending with a tks row will allow the grafting to work out correctly. Since grafting basically creates a row in order to join pieces seamlessly, you need to have two tks rows so you can work a tps row in between. The first tks row is the foundation row.)

Now for the fun part—grafting. To start off, you’ll want to lay both swatches on a flat surface, with the swatch with the grafting yarn below the other swatch. Thread the long tail through your tapestry needle, and graft as follows:

Step 1. Insert the needle from left to right behind the front vertical bar of the edge stitch on the last row of the lower swatch.

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Step 1. Insert from left to right

Step 2. Insert the needle from right to left behind both legs of the edge stitch on the first row of the upper swatch.

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Step 2. Insert from right to left behind both legs

Step 3. Insert the needle from top to bottom behind the same front vertical bar of the edge stitch used in Step 1.

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Step 3. Insert from top to bottom behind same bar

Step 4. Pull the yarn through, keeping the stitch size the same as the stitches of both swatches.

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Step 4. Pull yarn through

Step 5. Insert the needle from left to right behind the front vertical bar of the next stitch on the last row of the lower swatch.

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Step 5. Insert from left to right

Step 6. This will twist the stitch in order to recreate the tps look.

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Step 6. Twist stitch

Step 7. Insert the needle from right to left behind both legs of the next stitch on the first row of the upper swatch. (Note: work in front of the chain, not into or around the chain as on the other stitches.)

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Step 7. Insert from right to left behind both legs

Step 8. Insert the needle from top to bottom behind same front vertical bar of the stitch used in Steps 5–6. (Note: This is now the horizontal bar at the base of the stitch.)

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Step 8. Insert from top to bottom behind same bar

Step 9. Pull the yarn through, keeping the stitch size the same as the previous grafted stitch.

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Step 9. Pull yarn through

Step 10. Repeat Steps 5–9 across.

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Step 10. Continue grafting

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Grafting complete – front

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Grafting complete – back

Ta-da! The finished pieces look like they were originally one piece, don’t they? Can you tell where the pieces were grafted together?

Be sure to check back for part 3 to see how Joni and I graft our cowls together.

Happy stitching!
Susanna


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