Grafting: More than Kitchener stitch

Rainbow Lace Stole

I used to think that “grafting” and “Kitchener stitch” were interchangeable. But they’re not. Kitchener stitch is worked to join stockinette pieces; grafting refers to any type of seam that joins two pieces together invisibly, including Kitchener stitch.

Grafting expert Joni Coniglio has gone deep into the world of grafting, demystifying it for those of use who are/were intimidated by the technique. Here she is to talk about her new eBook, How to Graft Your Knits Invisibly, and her Rainbow Lace Stole pattern (we’ve bundled the eBook, which includes the stole pattern, and the yarn needed to knit the stole!)

Many lace stoles are worked in two pieces, from each end inward, and joined in the center. This allows for gorgeous mirrored patterning and identical edges at each end—but how do you join the pieces in an attractive way that doesn’t detract from the lace? The best way is with invisible grafting, which allows you to join the stitches while staying in pattern for a seamless look and continuous patterning.

Here’s Joni to tell you more about this process.

Grafting the Rainbow Lace Stole Invisibly

This eBook takes a unique approach to grafting in that its focus is not on the memorization of steps, but rather on showing how to make the grafted seam as invisible as possible on all types of patterns, from stockinette stitch and garter stitch to ribbing, cables, and lace—whether they are grafted top-to-top or top-to-bottom.

There are a few ways to join two sets of live stitches in knitted fabric, and the method you choose will depend on your desired results. For example, the stitches can be joined with the three-needle bind-off, but this will leave a bulky, visible seam that you may not want if the seam is in a prominent place, such as at the center of a lace stole.

Rainbow Lace Stole, edging closeup

Another option is to use Kitchener stitch, which is a type of grafted seam that recreates stockinette stitch. Kitchener stitch is largely considered to be the most invisible method for joining two sets of live stitches together, but this is only true if the stitch pattern contains at least two consecutive rows of stockinette stitch in which to “hide” the grafting. In order for the grafting to be invisible, it must recreate as closely as possible the stitch pattern of the pieces that are being grafted together.

A little-known fact about grafting is that it will result in two pattern rows when the grafting yarn is drawn through two sets of live stitches. Kitchener stitch will produce a knit row (as viewed from the right side of the work) on both the front and back needles, and because patterns such as garter stitch, ribbing, and many lace patterns don’t contain two consecutive rows of stockinette stitch, Kitchener stitch will interrupt these patterns and be visible.

Take the lace pattern shown in the swatch below left (Figure 1), for example, which I also used for the Rainbow Lace Stole. For this swatch, I ended each half with a right-side row of the Body chart and used Kitchener stitch to join them.

The grafting line in Figure 1 is visible because it essentially adds an extra plain row between the two patterned rows.

For the lace stole, instead of using Kitchener stitch, I incorporated the decreases and yarnovers of the Body chart pattern into the graft itself, and you can see the results recreated in the swatch below right (Figure 2). Even with the slight jog in the pattern where the two halves meet head-to-head, the result is more invisible than the same pattern grafted using Kitchener stitch.

Figure 1, left; Figure 2, right

—Joni Coniglio, How to Graft Your Knits Invisibly


Hat with Lace Brim

Learning to graft invisibly is a skill that you really need to have if you’re going to knit pieces that start and end with lace panels, or if you’re working on a project such as Holly Priestly’s Hat with Lace Brim (also included in the eBook you’ll get in the kit), which has a sideways lace brim that’s grafted together so it becomes one, seamless piece.

Get Joni’s lace shawl invisible grafting kit today and get started learning and practicing this wonderful technique.


P.S. What’s your opinion on grafting? Love it? Hate it? Scared of it? Share your feelings in the comments.



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