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May 21, 2007

Grafting Epiphany

Several years ago I confronted my fear of grafting -- gulp -- bit the bullet and became reasonable proficient.  I do, however, have grafting amnesia, which requires me to google,"nonaknits grafting", each time I need to dredge up my grafting tutorial and these four steps:

  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

Even though these steps are repeated over and over and over, I cannot for the life of me remember if it's knit-wise or purl-wise first and which is it for which needle -- you get the idea.  Well yesterday while grafting my prototype sideways sock I had an epiphany.  Instead of thinking about moving the tapestry needle knit-wise and purl-wise why not think about moving it in to the middle and out from the middle.  This makes the directions consistent -- let me repeat, consistent -- for both the front and the back needles. 

Front Needle
In to the middle & drop off Out from the middle & leave on
Back Needle
In to the middle & drop off Out from the middle & leave on

Before I knew it I was cruising down the needle grafting and singing "In, Drop Off, Out, Leave On", and not worrying a bit if it was the front needle or the back.  Thus endith my epiphany.   If nonaGrafts, then you can too!

May 21, 2007 in Tips and Techniques | Permalink


Thank you, Nona! I've never had a problem grafting (because it looks like knitting, and my mind works like that) but now I can explain it others, succinctly and logically. You rock :).

Posted by: Janine | May 21, 2007 10:36:12 PM

Nona, this is brilliant!

Posted by: erin | May 21, 2007 11:21:17 PM

Brilliant, thank you

Posted by: Rachel | May 22, 2007 12:02:12 AM

Bless you. Bless you. Bless you.

Posted by: Jane | May 22, 2007 3:27:23 AM

oh it is so much fun to graft. i only wish my projects included more grafting. and this comes from somebody who was so discouraged when she did her first attempt.

Posted by: merete | May 22, 2007 3:42:36 AM

That's a good way to remember!! I got a tip once (can't remember the source, drat) to think of the front needle as "knits" and the back needle as "purls". (This works with stockinette stitch) On the "knits" you knit the first stitch off and leave the purl on. On the "purls" you purl the stitch off and leave the knit on. In other words, the way you thread the needle through the stitch tells you whether or not to leave it on or drop it off depending on what the stitches look like around it.

Posted by: Brandy | May 22, 2007 4:40:08 AM

Is it necessary to do the two set up stitches before you start the KPPK? I always read you take yarn from back before you start and stick it purlwise in the front needle first stitch and knitwise in the back row first stitch and then you're ready to go with the fantastic tutorial you made!!

What I want to know is how to graft if they're not all knit stitches. What if you're trying to weave together a k2p2 to a k2p2? It must be different??

Posted by: Jouf | May 22, 2007 5:07:53 AM

Thank you! Now I won't panic if I can't find neon green index card on which I have written my grafting cue sheet.


Posted by: Kathleen | May 22, 2007 5:15:29 AM

Jouf, its possible to graft in ribbing (its also possible to climb mount everest...)

learning to graft in Purl is not as hard, but takes more concentration (especially if you have years of "knit stitch" grafting.) moving from grafting in knit to grafting in purl, a nightmare!

one trick with grafting ribbing (but it causes the ribbing to loose a lot of stretch) is to
side 1: graft the knits to the knits (just slip purls on to a DPN as you come to them and ignore them)
then turn the work, (over) and
Side 2: graft again (the stitches on the DPN now are knits and graft these knits to the knits

it ends up looking just like ribbing, but doesn't stretch (it's good for the grafting a 2 piece scarf at the back of the neck, but not for socks!)

Posted by: helen (of troy) | May 22, 2007 5:23:53 AM

When I first started grafting, I grafted in garter stitch whenever I tried to follow the old knit purl purl knit directions. I just had a mental block. So I looked it up in my Monste Stanley, and she speaks of moving the needle up or down through the stitches. It took a few more failed tries before I knew exactly what she meant by that, but after scratching my head and cursing other people's directions way past my 'bedtime' one night, I finally grasped what it was that grafting is meant to do and how it works. And, just like when I was back in school, now that I really understand what I'm doing instead of just memorizing it, I don't forget how. I can seamlessly graft a toe in about the time it takes me to find my tapestry needle and darning egg, no instructions required. All I have to do is think about what a knit stitch looks like.

I've found that dropping a stitch off the needle after I've passed through it the first time gives me the best results, then I go down through the last stitch on the seam and up through the first stitch on the needle (and slip it off) on both sides, which I can do in one movement.

Posted by: carla | May 22, 2007 6:24:30 AM

That's a good reminder. I actually tend to remember the kitchener stitch now without reminder, but this is handy too. I"m all for good reminders.

Posted by: Wanda | May 22, 2007 6:48:36 AM

Dear Nona,

Thank you! I too suffer from grafting amnesia and I have to re-teach myself EVERY TIME!

I've printed out your little helpful hints. I really think this will help me to remember!

And even if it doesn't, it's nice to know that I'm not the only one who has grafting amnesia!

It really makes me feel better in myself to know that Nona KnitGoddess is afflicted with a little grafting amnesia too!

I can't be that stupid! I'm in good company! ;)

-Arianne at Wanderlust Knits

Posted by: Arianne | May 22, 2007 8:06:56 AM

I have NO problem at all grafting two flat pieces butted up against each other-- grafting shoulder pieces together, say, or the back of a collar-- even when they're in some knit-purl combination (yes, even traveling stitches!) Yet when it comes to sock toes, with two little bits of fabric sitting on top of each other, I can't do it because when the grafted row will sit at 90 degrees from the rows it joins, I can't seem to visualize it properly, let alone get the tension consistent. So what-- I just draw a tail of yarn through the few stitches of the toe, draw them up like a drawstring purse and call it done! Fits comfortably and looks better than a grafted toe, especially when I've blocked it by wearing it. I'm just glad I can graft where it counts, in more dramatically visible places!

Posted by: Gretchen | May 22, 2007 8:59:08 AM

I too suffer from graftamnesia, at least on socks; I have no trouble on bigger yarn somehow, it's easier to see how it should go. I don't feel as stupid now, though -- evidently I'm in good company. I'm excited to try this!

Posted by: Cathy-Cate | May 22, 2007 9:08:30 AM

I'm with Carla, I think of it as "up" and "down" rather than in and out, or knit and purl. And even though I own Montse Stanley's book, to the best of my recollection I "unvented" that myself -- it was just the most logical for me. But I think your new chant is brilliant! I never could remember that first one.

Posted by: AuntieAnn | May 22, 2007 9:26:49 AM

COOL! I end up repeating this "mantra" in my head as I graft:

Knit, slip, purl, purl, slip, knit.

That way I can remember whether I've slipped ("dropped off") or not.... But I'll definitely try your method next time. I love it already! Much simpler.

Posted by: Vanessa | May 22, 2007 9:43:04 AM

your post made me laugh because everytime i graft i also google nonoknits grafting! :) maybe now i'll remember, thanks!

Posted by: cori w | May 22, 2007 12:36:12 PM

I am so using that! I swear, grafting is the one bit of knitting that I CANNOT for the life of me memorize or get to be second nature. I look it up every time, too, even though I've grafted tons of times in the past. This makes sense! Many thanks.

Posted by: Kathy | May 22, 2007 1:59:58 PM

Thank you! I always have to look it up too, but this I can remember.

Posted by: Brenda | May 22, 2007 3:00:03 PM

That's great! I always have to refer to knitty.com EVERYTIME I have to graft.

Posted by: yuvee | May 22, 2007 4:09:12 PM

I love having epiphanies! Grafting is just one of those things that isn't intuitive to me so I'm the same way with it.

Posted by: Brenda | May 22, 2007 5:05:53 PM

I can't ever remember how to graft. Maybe this will make it stick once and for all. Thanks!

Posted by: Susan | May 22, 2007 7:49:08 PM


Posted by: Ruth | May 23, 2007 3:15:47 AM

I'm going to have to study this post and memorize it. Thanks for the info. I heart you!! :)

Posted by: Arleta | May 24, 2007 5:50:32 AM

This new way of looking at it was great and super helpful! I just grafted the hood on my CPH and it worked like a wonder. Thanks for sharing.

Posted by: mary | May 31, 2007 9:21:56 AM

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