Grafting Non-stockinette

I’m a big fan of Kitchener stitch, and like to use it to make nice, seamless joins in my stockinette. However, like most knitters I don’t always use stockinette. What if you’re doing sometime more complicated, where the fabric switches back and forth between knits and purls? Something like ribbing, or cables? Can you still graft? Absolutely!

First, a word about garter-stitch grafting. If you can already graft stockinette (click the link above if you need a refresher), you can easily graft garter. All you do is work the back needle’s stitches exactly the same as the front. So, your chant would go “knit, purl, knit, purl” rather than “knit, purl, purl, knit”. Both of your set-up stitches would be identical (as if to purl) as well.

Now, on to the “fancy” stuff.

Set-up Step: Look at the first stitch on the front needle. If it is a knit stitch, slip the needle into it as if to purl, and pull the tail through. If it is a purl stitch, slip the needle into it as if to knit and pull the yarn through. Basically, you will do the opposite of whatever the stitch on the needle is. For the first stitch on the back needle, match your yarn needle to the stitch (if the public side of the yarn is a knit, move as if to knit. For a purl, move as if to purl.)

set up

The order of your next steps will vary based on what you’re knitting. Pick the one that matches what you see on the public side of the next two stitches for each needle. This means that garter stitch and reverse stockinette are both treated as purls.

If your next two stitches are knits:

Work standard Kitchener stitch. Knit, purl, purl, knit.

standard Kitchener

If your next two stitches are purls:

Work as for the garter instructions above. Knit, purl, knit, purl.

garter graft

If your next two stitches switch from knit to purl:

This is the only situation you will work differently than if you were grafting stockinette or garter.  Both of your back needle stitches will be worked as if to purl. So, knit, purl, purl, purl.

knit to purl

If your next two stitches switch from purl to knit:

This is like working in stockinette. Knit, purl, purl, knit.

standard Kitchener

You’ll notice that your treatment of the front needle never changes – you always move as if to knit, then purl. Only your treatment of the back needle ever changes. Additionally, there’s only one specific situation where you don’t work the back needle as you would for stockinette or garter, and that’s when you’re moving from knits to purls. It’s really not at all as complicated as it looks. Try it with the step-by-step a few times, and once you’ve seen yourself do it once or twice it will quickly become intuitive. Go on, try it!

Need a project to practice on? Try my Brambleton.

8 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by caityrosey on April 2, 2013 at 4:11 pm

    Great tip! I hadn’t had occasion to do this yet, but I’m sure I will now that I’ve read this.


  2. Posted by eclecticitee on April 4, 2013 at 8:42 am

    Great tutorial, and timely! Thanks for the clear explanation – it will come in handy. 🙂


  3. I’m making a Dogwood baby blanket and decided to do the borders of the squares in moss stitch and graft together rather than the edge treatment in the pattern. I was loosing my cool with other tutorials. Yours made finishing this project possible. Thank you!


  4. Posted by Cindy on January 2, 2015 at 1:41 pm

    All grafting garter instructions tell me what to do when the purl bumps are on the front needle and the knit row on the back. The pattern I’m working with now my garter stitch ends the exact oposite. Knit on the front needle – purl on back. Can you tell me what my pattern would be then?


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