When It Comes to Knitting (and Grafting), It’s Good to Have Choices
A few years ago, my mother-in-law, Lillian, was knitting a hat and encountered an abbreviation that she’d never seen before: ssk. When she asked me what it meant, I explained that it was a single decrease worked over two stitches. She said, “Oh, so it’s the same as a k2tog.” “Well, sort of,” I replied, “except that it slants to the left instead of to the right.” She considered this for a moment and then said, “I’ll just use k2tog, it’ll be fine.” And it was. Over the years, Lillian happily knitted hundreds of hats, baby booties, dishcloths and scarves for relatives, neighbors, church fundraisers and charities. To my knowledge, she never once used any decrease other than k2tog (and an occasional k3tog), or any increase other than the bar increase (knitting into the front and back of a stitch), and those techniques served her perfectly well. The fact that there are multiple ways to accomplish the same thing didn’t really concern her. Ultimately, her goal was simply to create a garment that would serve a useful function.
For my part, I love the fact that there are so many choices in knitting. I’m not limited to one cast-on or short-row method, but can choose among several different types, depending on the effect I want to achieve in a given project.
There’s one situation, however, where the choice of techniques has traditionally been somewhat limited: when joining two sets of live stitches together in knitted fabric. In that case, a pattern will typically call for three-needle bind-off or Kitchener stitch. These are both perfectly fine techniques, but there may be times when you want a seam that is more invisible than can be achieved using either technique (even Kitchener stitch is not always the most invisible option). And that’s when it’s nice to have more options available.
You may have noticed in some of the patterns in our magazines that we’ve been including grafting charts and/or written instructions for grafting in pattern. Of course, knitters are always free to use any joining technique they prefer, but the grafting instructions are included for those who want to give grafting in pattern a try.
In the Winter 2015 issue of Interweave Knits, we actually included two different sets of instructions for Angela Tong’s Caterpillar Cowl: one set of instructions if you want to join the ends of the cowl using Kitchener stitch (or even three-needle bind-off), and alternate instructions for working the cowl if you want to graft in pattern. In this case, two separate instructions were necessary because you cast on a different number of stitches and begin and end the chart on different rows, depending on which method you choose. The cowl, with both grafting options, is now available as an individual download here.
For my version of the cowl I used Rowan Fine Art Aran in #549 Flamenco.
The pattern involves grafting a sawtooth lace edging. The yarn tail at the left-hand side indicates the grafted join. Otherwise, the graft is completely invisible.
And, speaking of grafting instructions, I’m excited to announce that the Rainbow Lace Stole from my eBook, How to Graft Your Knitting Invisibly: Taking Kitchener Stitch to the Next Level, is now available as a kit. The kit includes two balls of Jojoland Harmony in color #HC07 Fairyland and a copy of the eBook (which includes instructions for the stole and step-by-step instructions for the grafting). I think that “Rainbow” is an apt title for the stole:
The stole is worked in two halves and grafted in the center. You can see in the photo below where the direction of the knitting changes at the grafted join and there is a slight jog where the patterns meet head-to-head, but the lace grafting eliminates the visible line that often occurs when lace is grafted using Kitchener stitch.
If you’ve never tried grafting in pattern, give it a try. The possibilities are endless!