Monday, October 15, 2007

Grafting Lace Borders for Dummies

Before I started the Spider King edging, I spent hours reading all about how The Experts Did It. Line up bumps, Line up Vs. Go up through the first stitch, down through the fourth one on the third needle purlwise, being careful to maintain an even tension, clean your glasses, turn off karaoke machines, and so on.

Deciding to follow one particularly detailed explanation, I carefully knit a full repeat in a different-colored waste yarn, then knit another row in a differently colored waste yarn. At the end. I spent 20 hours trying to figure out what the heck all those waste yarns were supposed to be grafted to and in what order. Ultimately, knitting the first repeat was not only a waste of time and waste of waste yarn, but turned out to be so confusing that I finally just snipped it out.

I put everything aside and spent some time with more waste yarn in a different room than the original waste yarns, shawl, needles, glasses cleaners, and Xanax.

Pithy Directions
1. When you are ready to begin the edging, chose a simple row as the ending row and knitted it first with waste yarn.
2. Knit the border and then knit last row again with waste yarn. Using a different color from the first waste yarn will make step 3 easier.
3. Follow the path of the waste yarns with a blunt needle threaded with a nice, long length of the working yarn.

Frothy Directions
1. Inspect your edging repeat and choose the simplest row. In my case, every other row was plain knit, so selection was a no-brainer. My border had peaks and valleys. I chose the knit row at the bottom of the valley.

2. This row is both the starting row and your ending row.


1. Take a piece of waste yarn in a contrasting color and work the chosen row. You are knitting the last row of the border first, yes you are.

2. Then continue knitting your border with your real yarn.

3. Time passes. For some of us, it's a lot of time.

4. When you get to the end, knit the last row in a contrasting color waste yarn. Using a different color from the first row will be helpful.

5. You will notice that, having finished the shawl, the edging is still connected to the yarn ball.

6. Sorry, but you will have to break the connection--but leave yourself a nice long piece to do the graft.

7. Thread the end into a blunt needle.

8. Give the shawl and the threaded needle to a Boy/Girl Scout who can follow a map.

9. Explain that he or she needs to follow the path of the waste yarns. If the working yarn is on the bottom needle, then the working yarn must go up to the other needle, follow the path of the upper waste yarn as it meanders through the live stitches, until the waste yarn starts heading back down to the knitting needle.

At that point, the working yarn moves back to the bottom needle and follows the waste yarn until it heads back up to its knitting needle.

It doesn't matter which side you start on, or whether the shawl is facing up or down. There are no bumps or v's to line up. You don't need to understand knitwise or purlwise. You don't need to drop stitches from needle. You can go get a cold drink and come back when the Scout is finished.

10. Remove the knitting needles, slide out the waste yarn, and adjust the tension of the grafting yarn if necessary.

Don't forget to give the Scout a cookie.


Anonymous said...

Thank you, thank you, and thank YOU for writing grafting instructions in plain English.

Did I mention thank you?


fluffbuff said...

Brilliant. I never subscribed to the school of thought of knitting a whole repeat just to throw it out. Must be all those years with the Catholic nuns, but it just seems a waste of time and material. I grafted a couple of lace borders and instinctively picked an easy row, so I am all with you on this one. I couldn't do that with the Myrtle Leaf shawl, since the pattern is worked on both sides, but still you can pick a row that is less complex than others.
It makes me very happy to see that I am not crazy (well, other than the latest project for which you've been telling me how crazy I am…) and I love the two sets of directions.

Arachnera said...

This should be quite helpful next time I need to graft a border (admittedly, I've never done that before, but it still sounds helpful)

--Deb said...

"Pithy" and "frothy" . . . that alone makes reading this post worthwhile!

Katie K said...

I enjoyed the way you wrote the instructions but I don't understand them at all. You say that you are knitting the last row first. How is it the last row? And when does it become the last row (as opposed to being the first row) of the edging? Some pictures would help.

Lorette said...

Brilliant indeed. I believe this is one of those knitting tasks that we tend to make much more difficult than it needs to be. Thanks for the frothy instructions!

Batty said...

I've never had to graft on a border, but this seems like a good way to do it!

Laritza said...

Excellent! as you said sound and clear!

Anonymous said...

Such a marvelous description! I've had to give up and sew the 2 ends works, but isn't elegant.

Anonymous said...

That is sheer genius!!!! I will definitely be using that trick in the future. I've ended up doing a really bad job of grafting all my shawl borders together, and would surely have benefitted from this tutorial a long time ago. It's being printed and laminated for my binder :)

Janice in GA said...

Succinct and clear. Thanks!

LittleBerry said...

I will try your method next time I do a knitted on border, shame I didn't have it before I started the VLT stole border....

Anonymous said...

I didn't understand the directions either. Some photos or a diagram would be greatly appreciated. Please?

Dorothy said...

Oh my goodness! I feel like a knitting dummy for never figuring this out for myself. Thank you, thank you! Now I've got to go start a whole new shawl so I can try this out!!!

Anonymous said...

can you post a closeup of your graft?

Lacefreak said...

You are brilliant and I am not worthy! I am going to try this on the Sampler Stole edging (Had to rip it out because I did not like Hazel Carters way of doing it anyway). It sounds like something I could actually do and I have always sucked at grafting. You are a Knitting Goddess!

Karla (ThreadBndr) said...

Wow, MUCH better then how I struggled with the border on the Widow's Shawl. I did have the sense to use a provisional cast on, but the diffent colored yarn would have made the whole thing MUCH less traumatic!

Next question. On shawls like the Spider Queen (and the Unst Bridal - there's a method to the madness) where there are borders with a garter stitch ground, should you knit those borders as trapazoids and seam (Carter) or purl ever other row and kint round (Miller)?

thanks for any advice.

Colette said...

This is pure genius! I'm going to have to try this out on my spider queen (if I ever get to the edging). You are the fairy godmother of knitting. Thanks so much.

Anonymous said...

yikes! you got pictures?

Soo said...

You, Fleegle, are one clever woman. Definitely a page that I need to bookmark.


Romi said...

Pithy is good. Very good. :)

KnitYoga said...

Thanks for that, Fleegle! You've just made something that seemed so complicated now seem very simple and doable! By the way, I've had a go with the KSH and the 5.5mm needles for the circular cardi and I'm getting perfect tension. Hope the KSH is working for you, too!

Opal said...

Wonderful post! Love the pithy and frothiness of it all. :)

Strickmuse said...

I just wanted to let you know that I found your entry today after searching for 'grafting lace' and through a few other blogs it brought me here. Thanks for the detailed 'for Dummies' instructions. I have been pondering a while over how to graft my two Juno shawl parts. Although I have not tried it yet, I can see clearly what I need to do.