07 June 2007

Russian Grafting a mini lesson

Last night at Knitnite I did a mini lesson on Russian grafting. I love this technique so much that not only have I made it a major part of my knitting tricks but I've also taught it to anyone and everyone who asks ever since I took the class with Galina. BTW, if you get a chance to take a class with Galina just do it.

I haven't taught a group in some time and while I think I did a pretty good job, I did come away with some room for improvement notes to self. Things I did right included bringing extra swatches for me to use and for people who didn't have time to do their homework and having finished examples of how I've used the technique. In the room for improvement column, larger needles for the sample and turn my back to the audience to demo. The turn the back to an audience is pretty alien but helpful when showing a technique to a group.

Begin with two small pieces of knitting similar gauge, same number of stitches, different colours.
Leave the stitches on the needles. Cut your working yarn after leaving a small tail. Ideally your swatches will be on dps or circs but it isn't critical. If you swatches are on single pointed needles have your yarn tail at the non-working end of the needle. For my example, I just used some swatches I had at hand with 16 stitches on each needle. Position your swatches facing each other. You should have a tail of yarn to either the far right or far left.

I promised the group that I'd do a write up of the technique for future reference so I'm sharing the wealth beyond the guild.

Once the set up stitches are complete the technique is pretty intuitive and easy to follow.

Since you only do the set up once that's the part that's easy to forget.

Begin the set up by transferring the 1st stitch on the left needle (the 1st white stitch in the example) to the right needle.


Next, insert the left needle into the 2nd stitch on the right needle (the 1st red stitch in the example) as if you were binding/casting off and draw it up and over the 1st (white) stitch on the right needle.


Drop the red stitch off the right needle.

Transfer the 1st stitch on the right needle (the white stitch in the example) back to the left needle.

When you finish the next step of the set up you will not be transferring stitches from needle to needle again because once you have manipulated the stitches as directed in the technique the stitches will be exactly where they need to be to perform the next step of the technique.


Insert the tip of the right needle into the 1st stitch on the left needle (as if to purl) and into the 2nd stitch on the left needle as if to knit.

Draw the 2nd stitch through the 1st stitch. Drop the 1st stitch off the left needle. This ends the set up.

This is also the only time when you will be manipulating two stitches of the same colour.


The 2nd stitch on the left needle is now the 1st (and only white stitch) stitch on the right needle.

Insert the tip of the left needle into the first stitch on the right needle (the white stitch) as if to purl and into the 2nd stitch (the red stitch) as if to knit.


Draw the 2nd (red) stitch through the 1st stitch and drop the 1st (white) stitch off the right needle.

The 2nd (red) stitch on the right needle is now the 1st (and only red) stitch on the left needle.

Insert the tip of the right needle into the first stitch on the right needle (the red stitch) as if to purl and into the 2nd stitch (the white stitch) as if to knit.

Draw the 2nd (white) stitch through the 1st stitch and drop the 1st (red) stitch off the left needle.

These four steps comprise the technique. You will alternate left to right until all stitches are consumed.


Because the red and white swatches are just sort random, you can clearly see the zippered seam created with the technique.

If, after the set up, you work two stitches of the same colour you will end up with a vertical button hole which is quick sanity check to tell you that you've done something wrong.

When you are grafting garter stitch to garter stitch the zippered seam will disappear into the garter stitch ridges on the right side and only be visible on the wrong side. The photos below of my original swatches from Galina's class are a perfect example of how invisible the join is when working in garter,


The reason for making sure you have at least one tail of yarn available at either the far left or far right comes in at the end of the technique.

Because the technique is basically binding/casting off using the live stitches and no working yarn, you will need some working yarn or other stitches to secure your last live stitch.

You work your last two stitches just as they present and when you have one stitch remaining, draw the available tail of yarn through the last stitch and draw it up to secure the stitch.






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