How to Graft a Twisted Rib Pattern
The Lamplighter’s Hat from Interweave Knits Gifts 2019 begins with a cabled band that is worked flat from side to side. After the band is complete, the live stitches on the last row are grafted (in pattern) to the provisional cast-on stitches. Then stitches are picked up along one side of the band and the stockinette-stitch body of the hat is worked in the round.
Grafting the 22 stitches of the cabled band involves grafting a combination of stockinette stitch, reverse stockinette stitch, garter stitch, and nine stitches of a twisted rib pattern. There are four simple grafting steps for each type of stitch, but grafting twisted stitches involves working steps 2 and 3 a little differently than for the other types of stitches. In this post, we’ll focus on grafting the twisted rib pattern, using a practice swatch.
The Practice Swatch
The practice swatch will consist of two separate pieces that are grafted together, with the live stitches from the last row of the lower piece grafted to the provisional cast-on stitches of the upper piece. Generally, when stitches are grafted, the live stitches are held on two parallel knitting needles. But as we’ll see later, it would be difficult—if not impossible—to graft twisted stitches in this way. So instead, we’ll keep the live stitches on waste yarn until the grafting is complete.
To create the practice swatch, you’ll need:
1. Working yarn.
2. Straight knitting needles (or circular, if you prefer).
3. Two colors of contrasting-color cotton waste yarn.
4. Crochet hook.
5. Tapestry needle.
Before we work the swatch, however, let’s take a brief look at the twisted rib pattern to get a better idea of what the grafting will entail.
The Twisted Rib Pattern
In the twisted rib pattern, only the knit ribs are twisted (by working k1tbl on right-side rows and p1tbl on wrong-side rows), while the purl ribs are untwisted.
Twisted Rib: (odd number of sts)
Row 1 (RS) *P1, k1tbl; rep from * to last st, p1.
Row 2 (WS) *K1, p1tbl; rep from * to last st, k1.
Rep Rows 1 and 2 for patt.
Grafting a stitch that is twisted every row can be a little tricky. Not only do you have to figure out how to twist the stitch in the row below the grafted row (because a stitch won’t be twisted until it is worked on the following row), you also have to incorporate a twist into the grafted stitch itself.
Twisting Stitches on the Last Row of the Lower Piece
Note: The waste yarn is not shown in the following illustrations.
In the illustration below, the orange row below the gap is the last row worked on the lower piece, and the row above the gap is the provisional cast-on row of the upper piece. The gap will be filled in by the grafted row. The knit stitches at the top of the twisted stitch columns on the lower piece aren’t twisted because they haven’t yet been worked.
There are two ways to twist the knit stitches on the orange row. One way is to twist them during the grafting process by inserting the tapestry needle into the back loop of the stitches on step 1. But another (easier) method is to work across all the stitches with waste yarn, twisting the knit stitches by working them through the back loops. It isn’t necessary to work the row in the twisted rib pattern, or even to knit the knit stitches. In fact, for the practice swatch, we are going to purl across all the stitches, purling into the back of the knit stitches to twist them. Purling the stitches will bring the tops of the stitches to the front and make them easily accessible when grafting.
The next illustration shows what the last row on the lower piece will look like after the stitches are correctly twisted and ready to be grafted.
The next thing we need to consider is how to fabricate the twisted stitches when grafting.
The grafted row is shown in blue below. It is identical to all the other rows, with purl stitches alternating with twisted knit stitches.
The purl stitches are created by working four grafting steps for reverse stockinette stitch, and the twisted knit stitches are created by working four grafting steps for twisted stockinette stitch.
The Order of Grafting Steps for Regular and Twisted Stitches
With top to bottom grafting, the order of grafting steps for a regular (untwisted) stitch involves working the first step on the front needle (or lower piece), the second and third steps on the back needle (or upper piece), working from right to left into two different stitches, and the fourth step in the same stitch on the front needle as step 1. When grafting stitches top to bottom, with no half-stitch jog, steps 2 and 3 are aligned vertically above steps 1 and 4, as can be seen in the diagrams below.
To graft a twisted stitch, steps 2 and 3 need to change positions to be worked from left to right into two different stitches. This order of working steps 2 and 3 makes it very difficult to graft the stitches when they’re sitting on a knitting needle (since you’d have to work into the second stitch on the needle, then into the first stitch). By contrast, working them from the waste yarn is quite easy.
After working step 3 of the twisted stitch, insert the tapestry needle under the strand that connects steps 1 and 2 (which creates an X), and then work step 4 in the same stitch as step 1.
Grafting twisted rib consists of alternating the four grafting steps for a regular (untwisted) stitch worked in reverse stockinette stitch and the four grafting steps for a twisted stitch worked in stockinette stitch. (These steps are shown in the diagrams below.) The eight-step repeat is outlined by the red box in the Grafting chart.
Top Half of Swatch:
With first waste yarn (pink) and crochet hook, ch 21. Break yarn. With 2nd waste yarn (white), beg about 2 ch in from last ch worked, pick up and knit 17 sts in back ridge lp of ch. Then, still using waste yarn, purl 1 WS row, knit 1 RS row. Break waste yarn.
With WS facing, join working yarn, leaving an 8″ tail. Knit 1 WS row (so running threads of working-yarn sts are visible on RS).
This first working-yarn row counts as Row 2 of the Twisted Rib pattern, even though the row isn’t actually worked in pattern (these stitches will be worked in pattern when the stitches are grafted).
Work in Twisted Rib (see directions above) for desired length. BO all sts.
Notice that all the stitches in the twisted-stitch columns are twisted, even the ones on the cast-on row that were not worked in pattern.
Bottom Half of Swatch:
CO 17 sts (using any method). Work in Twisted Rib for desired length, ending with a WS row. Break yarn, leaving a 1-yd tail for grafting. At this point, the stitches at the top of the twisted-stitch columns aren’t twisted. To twist these stitches, work across them with the waste yarn as follows:
Next row (RS) With waste yarn, [p1, p1tbl] 8 times, p1. Purl 1 row. Knit 1 row. BO all sts.
The stitches on the last working-yarn row are now twisted and the tops of all the stitches are clearly visible (and easily accessible for grafting).
Grafting the Stitches
Note: The live stitches remain on the waste yarn during grafting. Because the stitches aren’t sitting on the knitting needle, “knitwise” means to insert the tapestry needle up through the stitch, and “purlwise” means to insert the tapestry needle down through the stitch.
Lay the two pieces of the swatch on a flat surface, with the right sides of both pieces facing up. The piece with the provisional cast-on should be above the other piece. Note that each vertical stitch column on the upper piece has two running threads at its base (on the cast-on row), one on the right side and one on the left side of the column. When the stitches are grafted, the top of each working-yarn stitch on the lower piece will be joined to two running threads on the upper piece. This will ensure that the stitch columns on both pieces will align vertically.
Each running thread on the cast-on row will be worked into two times, except for the first and last stitches of the row, which are worked into only once. The first stitch of the row is the half loop at the right-hand edge. The last stitch of the row needs to be created by drawing the cast-on tail through to the wrong side of the work.
Graft the first purl stitch as follows:
Step 1: Insert tapestry needle kwise into st on lower piece.
Step 2: Insert tapestry needle kwise into st at edge of upper piece.
Step 3: Insert tapestry needle pwise into next st on upper piece. Note that this stitch is at the right side of a twisted stitch column.
Step 4: Insert tapestry needle pwise into same st on lower piece as step 1. This completes the first grafted st.
Graft the next twisted stitch as follows:
Step 1: Insert tapestry needle pwise into st on lower piece.
Step 2: Keeping yarn to left and under tapestry needle, insert tapestry needle pwise into st on left side of twisted st column on upper piece.
Step 3: Insert tapestry needle kwise into st on right side of same twisted st column on upper piece.
Step 4: Insert tapestry needle under strand that connects steps 1 and 2, creating an X.
Then insert tapestry needle kwise into same st on lower piece as step 1.
Some of the steps can be combined into one movement as follows:
Combine steps 1 and 2 of reverse stockinette stitch graft.
Combine steps 3 and 4 of reverse stockinette stitch graft.
Combine steps 2 and 3 of the twisted stitch graft.
Combine both parts of step 4 of the twisted stitch graft.
When all the stitches are grafted, remove the waste yarn. Block to even out the grafted stitches.