Russian Grafting – an Alternative to Kitchener Stitch
There is a stigma around Kitchener stitch. Many knitters consider it to be confusing and hard to remember. In reality, it’s not THAT complicated, but yes, it does require some sewing skills.
Even though Kitchener stitch is the best way to create an absolutely invisible seam, there are other ways to join stitches that look quite nice and are easier to do.
In this article, I’ll show you one of those ways. We won’t use a wool needle to join stitches. Instead, we’ll use a crochet hook. In some sources, this way is called “crochet link join” (“Knitting: Colour, Structure and Design” book by Alison Ellen), in others – “Russian grafting”.
No matter how we call it, it’s a great way to join shoulder stitches, close the toe part of a top-down sock or connect open stitches in any other spot in your knitting.
HERE’S HOW IT WORKS
If you are a visual learner, watch this technique in a video tutorial.
1. Cut the working yarn leaving a small tail. It should be big enough to weave it in later on. We don’t need a longer tail because we are not going to use it for closing the stitches.
That’s another advantage of this way of closing stitches – no need to estimate the length of the tail and absolutely no chance we’ll run out of yarn half way through the seam 🙂
2. Transfer the open stitches you plan to join to double pointed needles. We will need to slide the stitches to the other tip of a needle, and there is no way we can do it without double pointed needles.
If your project is big and you have more stitches than you can squeeze on a double pointed needle, use a circular needle instead.
If necessary, rearrange stitches so that you have the same number of stitches on each needle.
3. Align two pieces with the wrong sides in, as it is shown in the photo below:
If you are closing stitches on a piece worked in the round (like a toe part of a sock), fold your work in half at the beginning of the round.
4. Arrange your work so that the yarn tail is at the left side of the work.
If your piece is knit in the round, flip your work horizontally. If you join two separate pieces as I do, and have two tails in work, simply make a note that your “working tail” will be the one on the left. Ignore the tail at the right side as if it’s not there. We’ll weave it in once the stitches are joined.
5. Slide the stitches so that the shorter tips of both needles are at the right side of the work. If your piece is knit in the round, you will need to slide stitches on both needles. If you join two different pieces, you will only slide stitches on the needle that is farther from you.
Now we are all set to start grafting the stitches. Pick a crochet hook in a size that is about the same as the size recommended on the yarn label for the yarn you are using, and let’s move on to:
Here’s how this part looks in the video tutorial
1. Insert the crochet hook knitwise under the front leg of the first stitch of the piece that is opposite to the working tail.
Slip the stitch off the needle.
2. Now insert the hook knitwise under the front leg (the one that is closer to you) of the first stitch on the other piece.
Slip the stitch off the needle. Now you have two stitches on your crochet hook.
3. Twist the hook a bit so that the “nose” of the hook is pointed down, and pass the second stitch you slipped through the first stitch. Watch how to do it. Now you have one stitch on the crochet hook.
4. Insert the crochet hook again under the front leg of the first stitch of the piece that is opposite to the working tail.
5. Twist the hook a bit and pass the second stitch through the first one. Now we are back to one stitch on the crochet hook.
If you knit using the Russian knitting technique, then insert the hook under the back leg of each stitch. Here’s how it looks when you insert the hook into a stitch of the front piece:
And here’s how it looks when you insert the hook into a stitch of the back piece:
That’s all there is to this way of grafting stitches. Repeat steps 2, 3, 4 and 5 until you join all stitches.
The last stitch you will have on your crochet hook will be the one that is attached to the yarn tail. To finish off your work, pass the tail through the last stitch and pull tight to secure.
Weave in the tails, and enjoy the tidy seam you’ve just made! This seam looks even better on the purl side of the work. By “better” I mean you can hardly see it at all 🙂
There is a stigma around Kitchener stitch. Many knitters consider it to be confusing and hard to remember. In reality, it’s not THAT complicated, but yes, it does require some sewing skills. Even though Kitchener stitch is the best way to create an absolutely invisible seam, there are other ways to join stitches that look … Russian Grafting – an Alternative to Kitchener Stitch Read More »