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June 27, 2005

Gulp! Grafting!?

Why oh why would nona -- a reasonable project finisher -- leave a 99.9% finished sock on her needles for 8+ days.  Here's a hint, the next instruction in the pattern read "using the Kitchener st, graft rem sts tog".  Kitchener st?  Graft?  These words chilled the blood in my veins.  I have vague memories of attempting this feat several years ago, along with vague memories of frustration and creative language.  Well, my friends, today was the day I faced my knitting skeleton feeling confident and sassy.

Trying to keep things light and easy, I turned to my "friend with black fingernails" -- the illustrated pair of knitting hands in Stitch 'N Bitch.  Somehow, these friendly hands with their peeling nail polish make things look so easy.  With page 79 opened on my lap, I grafted those toe stitches together.  Guess what?  The grafting bark is worse than its bite. 

Hey, if nonaGrafts then you can too!  Let me show you how...

For this grafting demonstration, I'll use my hunky yarn and needles.  First the prep work:

  • Place two equal number of live stitches on two needles
  • Hold the needles parallel to one another, with the wrong sides of the knit fabrics facing each other
  • Thread the working yarn through a tapestry needles -- I'm using a contrasting color for illustration

Okay, you're ready.  Grafting comes down to 4 simple steps repeated over and over until you've worked all the stitches. 

Step 1

Step 1: Slide the tapestry needle through the first stitch on the front needle as if to knit AND drop this first stitch off the front needle. (Front needle, knit wise, drop off)

Step 2

Step 2: Slide the tapestry needle through the first stitch on the front needle as if to purl.  Leave this stitch on the front needles (Front needle, purl wise, leave on)

Step 3

Step 3: Slide the tapestry needle through the first stitch on the back needle as if to purl AND drop the first stitch off the back needle.  (Back needle, purl wise, drop off)

Step 4

Step 4: Slide the tapestry needle through the first stitch on the back needle as if to knit.  Leave this stitch on the back needles.  (Back needle, knit wise, leave on)

And we're back to the very beginning.

Hey look, I'm grafting.

To sum up, grafting is much easier than it sounds.  Just repeat -- or sing -- the following:
  1. Front needle, knit wise, drop off
  2. Front needle, purl wise, leave on
  3. Back needle, purl wise, drop off
  4. Back needle knit wise, leave on
And remember to the pull the yarn a little tighter than you'd think.   Tomorrow I may just buy a bottle of black nail polish in honor of my dear, helpful friend.  Maybe you should too!

June 27, 2005 in Sockapalooza, Tips and Techniques | Permalink


Thanks Nona for another great tutorial on grafting. I'm knitting Alison's ankle socks that calls for grafting.

Posted by: erin | Jun 28, 2005 12:21:03 AM

You've been afraid of grafting? Poor thing! The kitchner stitch is simple--I also learned from our friend with the black nail polish! Lol!

Posted by: Cathy | Jun 28, 2005 4:00:43 AM

Oh yes...I used to have to say it aloud as I did it...now I am a pro! And it looks so fabulous!

Posted by: Carolyn | Jun 28, 2005 5:59:00 AM

No, no, no...not Kitchener!! I can't look! It's the bain of sock knitters. I use a star toe to make me happy.
Nice job, however;-)

Posted by: Margene | Jun 28, 2005 8:22:25 AM

Tip I got from "The Purl Stitch" - don't worry about tightening up the stitches as you do them, just go back and tighten it all up once you're finished. Much easier to control the stitches and come out with a very neat and tidy result.

Posted by: Kathy | Jun 28, 2005 8:57:22 AM


I used to have someone in my family READ the kitchner steps as I did them. They despised this. I may as well have asked them to clean the toilets. THEN I put the steps on 3x5 cards, holepunched the corners and ringed them. Now I do a flip card kitchner all by myself. Im proud Nona and Im proud of you too. Kitchner smitchner.

Posted by: kathy b | Jun 28, 2005 9:21:18 AM

I love the kitchener. It is one of my favorite things in knitting. I just love how you stick a needle in some loops for a while and...all of a sudden...it looks like you knit them. Amazing!

Posted by: Purly Whites | Jun 28, 2005 9:56:58 AM

Just in time for my next sock project you write another of your very helpful tutorials. I very much appreciate your willingness to write these!
It does seem a lot clearer with the photos there to help me. I almost can't wait until have got to the toe this time!

For my one previous sock experience I also used the black fingernail pictures, but somehow did not quite "get it" from them.

Posted by: KnittingNutter | Jun 28, 2005 11:40:52 AM

Another kitchener's tip: Keep the sewing yarn & needle below the knitting needles. P.S. I love reading your blog - it's one of my favorites!

Posted by: meilynne | Jun 28, 2005 4:11:40 PM

I always end up with a perfect little row of PURL stitches when I attempt to graft. No idea why! So I'm with Margene: star toe or bust.

Posted by: Beth S. | Jun 29, 2005 10:15:30 AM

Oh great and powerful Nona, thank you for once again breaking down the complex and irritating to a less complex and irritating place. This tutorial was much appreciated!

Posted by: Bev | Jun 29, 2005 10:42:24 AM

Nona you rock! I have tried grafting before and it never went well. I read this back when you posted it and put it into the back of my mind for the future. I just hit the point in my Sophie bag when the handles are grafted to the bag so I broke out your post. Perfectly written instructions and it looks great! Thank you so much for your tips!

faithful Nona reader,

Posted by: cori w | Aug 2, 2005 8:00:55 PM

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