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Grafting a Knitted Lace Stole Top to Top

The Lucy Westenra's Stole in garnet red, modeled wrapped around the neck.

I’ve completed the first half of my Lucy Westenra’s Wrap from Interweave Knits Winter 2021, and I’m about a quarter of the way through the second half. This is the first time I’ve added beads to my knitting; for some reason I had assumed it would be a laborious and difficult process. That hasn’t been the case at all, however. In fact, I’m really enjoying it!

The first half of my stole is complete.

I’m close enough now that I’m really looking forward to grafting the two halves together. I want to walk you through the process of grafting lace patterns like this one, where you’re joining the tops of two lace panels to each other. It’s a little different than grafting a top edge to a cast-on edge, with a few extra factors to consider.

Why Knit a Stole in Two Halves?

Each half of the wrap is worked from the cast-on edge to the center. Once both sides are finished, then the live stitches of both halves are grafted together.

Each half of the wrap is worked from the cast-on edge to the center and the halves are grafted together.

We often choose this construction for wraps with a decorative cast-on, an elaborate border, a directional body pattern, and/or a scalloped cast-on edge. It ensures that both ends of the wrap look exactly the same when the wrap is draped over the shoulders.

If the wrap has a decorative cast-on, an elaborate border pattern, a directional body pattern, and/or a scalloped cast-on edge, work each side of the wrap from the cast-on edge to the center so that each end will be the same.

One aspect of this construction method that might give knitters pause is that they will need to be comfortable with grafting (or at least be willing to learn how to graft).

That Pesky Grafted Seam

The fact that the seam will be in a very prominent place — at the center back when the wrap is worn — adds a certain amount of pressure to make sure the graft is as unobtrusive as possible. Even knitters who are comfortable with Kitchener stitch might hesitate when it comes to grafting in the lace pattern. Grafting in pattern gives the most invisible result but involves working more grafting steps in each repeat than does Kitchener stitch.

Here’s my advice to anyone who wants to knit a lace stole such as Lucy Westenra’s Wrap but isn’t quite confident in their grafting skills. First, practice the grafting on a swatch before attempting it on the wrap. Also, when grafting the stole, it would be a good idea to insert a lifeline into the live stitches of each half before grafting — just for additional peace of mind.

Grafting a Lace Stole Top to Top

When grafting a lace stole top to top (grafting the live stitches of the last row of the two halves together), an important thing to consider is the effect of the patterns meeting head to head in the center of the stole.

The Grafted Row Is the Line of Symmetry

The two halves of the stole are mirror images of each other, with the grafted row at the line of symmetry. Thus, when planning where to end the pattern before grafting, it will be necessary to determine where the grafting line should bisect the lace pattern on each half for the best effect.

Some lace patterns (like certain diamond lace patterns) have an internal line of symmetry parallel to the grafted row. In those cases, it’s possible to make the pattern look almost continuous when the stitches are grafted by ending each half of the stole after a complete diamond or after a half-diamond.

However, if the only line of symmetry within the lace pattern is perpendicular to the grafted seam, it won’t be possible to make the pattern look continuous when the stitches are grafted. Instead, new shapes will be created when the lace patterns meet head to head. This can be an interesting design feature if you plan for those shapes in advance!

One of the best ways to see what shapes will appear when you reverse the pattern is to place a mirror on the surface of the knitting.

Planning for Head-to-Head Patterns

The body pattern used in Lucy Westenra’s Wrap has a line of symmetry that is perpendicular to the grafted row.

The line of symmetry in the body pattern in Lucy Westenra’s Wrap is perpendicular to the grafted row.

However, it doesn’t have a line of symmetry parallel to the graft. That means we have to determine what shapes we would like to create when we join the two patterns together.

Option 1: Creating Diamonds

In the photo below, I’ve placed the mirror at about Row 5 of the body pattern. If you end each half at this point, a row of small diamonds will be created in the center of the stole.

Placing the mirror at about Row 5 of the body pattern shows that small diamonds will be created in the center of the stole when the stitches are grafted.

Here’s what the diamond pattern will look like when the stitches are grafted.

These small diamonds will form when the stitches are grafted at about Row 5 of the body pattern.

This graft looks really good, and this is where the Lucy Westenra’s Shawl pattern advises you to work the graft. However, it’s a good idea to check how a graft will look at another point in the pattern. Not all patterns will indicate where you should work the graft, and you may prefer a different look anyway. It’s also good practice for designing your own patterns, where you’ll need to figure out the best placement for yourself.

Option 2: Creating Elongated Ovals

This time, I’m placing the mirror at about Row 11 of the body pattern. In this case, a row of elongated ovals will result when the stitches are grafted.

Placing the mirror at about Row 11 of the body pattern shows that elongated ovals will be created in the center of the stole when the stitches are grafted.

The grafted swatch below shows how the elongated ovals will appear when the stitches are grafted.

These elongated ovals will form when the stitches are grafted at about Row 11 of the body pattern.

Wherever you join them, there will be a half-stitch jog in the pattern where the stitches meet head to head. You can minimize the appearance of this jog, but it can’t be avoided altogether.

How to Disguise the Half-Stitch Jog

To hide the jog, try to make sure it falls at a place in the pattern where there is a natural change of direction. Compare the grafting in the two swatch photos above. You’ll see that the jog is more noticeable when the grafting occurs at about Row 11 of the body pattern. That’s because the sides of the elongated ovals are straight. The jog is less noticeable with the small diamonds because the jog occurs at the corner of the diamonds.

The last thing to consider when grafting stitches top to top is that the grafting will create two pattern rows. It’s important to incorporate both rows into the grafting for the most invisible result.

Grafting Creates Two Pattern Rows

The grafted row forms a single row of loops, so it would seem logical to think that it could be substituted for a single chart row. In fact, many patterns for lace stoles will instruct you to end each half with a lace row and to work Kitchener stitch as a substitute for the plain row between them.

But grafting actually creates two pattern rows. Working Kitchener stitch between lace rows is the equivalent of working two consecutive plain rows in your lace pattern. Unfortunately, that will leave a visible line running through the lace pattern.

Using Kitchener stitch between two lace rows of the pattern will add an extra row of stockinette stitch that will leave a visible line running through the pattern.

In order to make the grafting more invisible, you will need to consider two pattern rows and graft in a different pattern on each half. For this wrap, one half ends with Row 4, with Row 5 (the lace row) grafted on that side. The other half ends with Row 5, with Row 6 (the plain row) grafted on that side.

For Lucy Westenra’s Wrap, Row 5 was grafted on the lower half and Row 6 was grafted on the upper half.

The pattern for Lucy Westenra’s Wrap includes step-by-step instructions for grafting in the lace pattern. It may take a little more concentration than if you just used Kitchener stitch, but after you’ve spent weeks knitting your gorgeous lace stole, the more-polished grafting results are definitely worth the effort.

Knit Your Own Lucy Westenra’s Wrap

Make sure to check out Susanna’s KAL in her Ravelry group, which goes through the end of May. You can get inspiration from others as you knit your own Lucy Westenra’s Wrap!


Header Image: Lucy Westenra’s Wrap by Susanna IC, published in Interweave Knits Winter 2021. Photo by Molly Stevenson.


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