Grafting is an invisible seam that requires two equal rows of live stitches. In other words, these stitches must be unworked stitches that are still live on a stitch holder or a needle.
A lot of seams can be bulky and annoying, so this invisible seam is a great way to avoid that bulk and create a nice, neat join. You can use this invisible seam on anything from sock toes to hoods and infinity scarves, and all you’ll need to do it is a yarn needle!
Here I’ll be demonstrating how to graft stockinette stitch, but of course with a few little tricks you can graft other types of stitches, too, like cables.
How to graft an invisible seam
For this tutorial, I’ll be grafting an invisible seam on the toe of these Waffle Rib Socks so that you can’t tell where the toe is joined. (You can download the FREE Waffle Rib Socks pattern here if you want to make a pair yourself.) Here’s how I created the invisible seam:
Divide the stitches equally on two needles. If you don’t have an equal amount of stitches on each needle, the extra stitches will unravel, and you don’t want that!
You can use any type of needles you’d like for this part, whether they’re straight, circular or double-pointed. For this tutorial, I’m using a long circular needle because I worked these socks using the Magic Loop. The tips of the needles should be pointed in the same direction, with the wrong sides of the work facing each other. Scoot the stitches down so they’re near the needle tips.
Cut your working yarn, leaving a long tail to create the seam. To make sure you have a tail that’s long enough, cut it about three times the length of the finished seam. So if your seam is 4 inches long, cut a yarn tail that’s about 12 inches long. Thread the tail through a yarn needle.
Set up your invisible seam by first inserting the yarn needle purlwise into the first stitch on the front needle. Pull it through. (Purlwise just means you’re sticking the needle through the front of the stitch, like you would if you were going to purl the stitch.) Don’t drop that stitch from the knitting needle, though. Just leave it on the needle for now.
Insert the yarn needle knitwise through the first stitch on the back needle. (Knitwise means you’re sticking the needle from the front to back of the stitch, just like you would if you were going to knit the stitch.) Don’t drop the stitch from the needle.
Insert the yarn needle knitwise through the first stitch on the front needle. This time, drop the stitch from the needle. The stitch will drop off to the side and just hang out there, as you can see in the photo above.
Insert the yarn needle purlwise into the next stitch on the front needle. Pull the yarn through, but leave the stitch on the needle.
Tip: As you’re working across the stitches, make sure your yarn is under the needles. Sometimes the yarn can get wrapped around the needles and look like a stitch, so keeping the yarn underneath helps to avoid that.
Insert the yarn needle purlwise through the first stitch on the back needle. Drop the stitch from the needle.
Insert the yarn needle knitwise through the next stitch on the back needle. Pull the yarn through, but leave the stitch on the needle.
After you have worked a few stitches, pause to even out too-loose or too-tight stitches using your tapestry needle. The idea is that your grafted stitches look exactly like the other stitches of your work. Wiggle them around with your tapestry needle to make them all the same size.
Repeat Steps 5-9 until you have two stitches remaining, one on each needle. When you have just two stitches left, repeat Step 5 then repeat Step 7. After this, all the stitches will be dropped from the needles.
Check that the new row of stitches matches the other stitches as closely as possible. If you have a few stitches that are tighter or looser, you can use your tapestry needle to pull on one stitch at a time. Avoid pulling on the yarn tail on the end, because you could break the yarn and unravel your grafted stitches.
When you’re happy with how your stitches look, securely weave in that loose end.
Tip: If you have problems remembering when to drop the stitch, keep this in mind: On the front needle, the only time you drop the stitch is when you insert the needle into it knitwise. When you are working on the back needle, the only time you drop the stitch is when you insert the needle into the stitch purlwise.
If you want to see grafting in action, check out the FREE The Ins and Outs of Grafting class with Anne Hanson. Anne will demonstrate grafting, plus show you how to graft more than just stockinette stitch invisible seams.
Learn More Grafting Techniques!
Gain the grafting skills to make your knit fabric & motifs flow seamlessly.