Grafting across German Short Rows is easier than you may think; it’s certainly easier than grafting across short rows created by the wrap and turn method!
Below are the four steps for kitchener stitch for garter stitch, with short rows on one set of stitches; this is a common set up for closing (grafting) a sideways knit Hat. To prepare for grafting, we need to ensure that our stitches are held together and parallel on the needles, with right sides of the work facing out.
To ensure your graft works correctly, you need to set your stitches up correctly. Unlike grafting stocking stitch, you cannot just bring the edges together, they need to be set up in a particular way. As you look at the needles from the top as shown in step 1, one side should have the ridges right up to the needle and the other should have the ridges sitting away from the needle. If your ridges are the other way around then you’ll want to reverse the instructions (this would be known as ‘ridge low’ grafting). If both needles are the same, you’ll want to unpick one side – this is especially important to remember if you’re folding a piece in half to graft – in this case, knit half the row before folding.
When we graft, we work first on the front needle and then on the back needle. It’s quite important to remember to stop after step 4 should you need to have a break or tighten up the slack, so that you can start again at a convenient point. Whenever I teach this technique, the most common problem that occurs is stopping mid way through the 4 step process which causes confusion for the knitter.
To start the graft and create the beginning selvedge edge, work steps 2 & 4 once. The work steps 1 to 4 until all stitches have been grafted, then finish with steps 1 & 3.
1) For this graft known as ‘ridge high’, the front needle has the ridges high, the back needle has them low – right sides of work facing outwards.
Stitch 1, front needle – insert the needle knit-wise under both ‘legs’ of the short row stitch, pull the yarn through then slip the stitch off the needle. Just as you treat the ‘legs’ as one stitch when you knit across them, you do in grafting.
2) Stitch 2, front needle – insert the needle purl-wise under both ‘legs’ of the short row stitch, pull the yarn through but leave the stitch on the needle.
3) Stitch 3, back needle – insert the needle knit-wise, pull the yarn through then slip the stitch off the needle.
4) Stitch 4, back needle – insert the needle purl-wise, pull the yarn through but leave the stitch on the needle. Repeat steps 2 to 5 for the grafting method. You’ll also notice that what you do on the front needle you also do on the back needle.
5) Finished graft after slack has been taken up, viewed from the right side of the work.
This graft assumes that your short row stitches in need of grafting are held on the front needle – if they are on the back, it might be worthwhile to flip the work around/inside out, and put the short row stitches at the front – they’ll be easier to see and you’re less likely to make a mistake with your grafting.
Also, this set up is for what I refer to as ridge high – i.e. as the needles face you, the ridges will be high (next to the needle) at the front, and on the back the ridges will be low (with Vs) next to the needle. You can either reverse the work, or reverse the graft (purl off, knit on) to graft correctly – please refer to my tutorial on grafting stitch for further help.
Other helpful tips to ensure your graft goes smoothly:
Try to take up the slack (i.e. tighten your stitches) every 5 ot 10 stitches. Leaving this until the end will likely cause problems with your tension and cause the graft to look uneven. When taking up the slack, do it slowly, stitch by stitch – don’t try pulling from the end as this will tighten some stitches and not others and may even cause your yarn to break!
Always remember to start on the front needle first. If your working yarn is on the front needle, slip it through the base of the first stitch on the back needle, to ensure it connects correctly when starting the graft.
A quick way to remember the garter stitch grafting method is this:
(front): knit off, purl on; (back) knit off, purl on
As always, if you have a question about this technique or need some help with it, leave a comment below! I’m afraid I’m unable to offer help via email or private message but you’re welcome to post in our forums.