Grafting/Kitchener Stitch Question

What is the effect on your knitting if you skip the second step of the Kitchener stitch/grafting procedure?

Background: I’ve been practicing a buttonhole technique (Anna Zilboorg’s The Perfect Buttonhole), which uses grafting/Kitchener stitch and I need to bounce my questions/thoughts off other knitters, who won’t think I’m speaking in tongues when I explain.

This is the first time I’ve tried Kitchener and I read instructions and watched videos (including Amy’s) to get a feel for the grafting process before attempting it within this buttonhole technique.
In the instructions for Kitchener that I read/watch, the steps are

  1. purl but not slip the first stitch on the front needle then
  2. knit but not slip the first stitch on the back needle.
  3. You then come back to the front needle and Knit,Slip,Purl then
  4. go to the back needle and Purl,Slip,Knit.
    You then repeat the steps 3 (K,S,P) and 4 (P,S,K) until you have grafted all the necessary stitches.

However, in Anna’s video while she starts the grafting process the same as I’ve read (step 1: purl not slip the first stitch on the front needle), she then goes straight to step 4 (P,S,K the first stitches on the back needle), thus skipping step 2 (knit but not slip the first stitch on the back needle). She then continues with the regular process (step 3, step 4, repeat).

I’m curious about the effect this change to the usual Kitchener process has on the knitted item. It appears to me that steps 1 and 2 begin the “joining” of the pieces. Is there a reason I’m not understanding about why it is necessary/acceptable to skip step 2? If I go ahead and add step 2 back in to the process, any ideas about what the effect will be?

Since I’m new to both this buttonhole technique and Kitchener/grafting, I hesitate to do it differently than her video says. However, I did a practice run on a swatch and I did notice something but I don’t know if it is related to skipping step 2. When I finished the entire process, including sewing the facing down, I noticed that one end of each buttonhole was “open”. Let me explain by saying that when sewing the facing down, you are basically creating a “tube” consisting of the front of the buttonband and the facing. For instance, at the top and at the bottom of the buttonband, you can stick your finger into the opening between the front and facing of the buttonband (kinda like into the finger of a glove). For each buttonhole, one end is completely closed (you can’t stick your finger between the front and the facing) but the other end is completely open (i.e., you CAN stick your finger between the front and the facing). I’m wondering if this may be due to skipping step 2 of the grafting process.

I know this is probably confusing reading it like this. This link is to a pic-filled tutorial that may make understanding it easier. You’ll see that part of the process of completing the buttonholes it to tie a square knot using two strands of yarn that are left at one end of each buttonhole. I think that accounts for one end of each buttonhole being completely closed. I’m wondering if skipping step 2 is why the other end of each buttonhole is completely open.

Let me just say the buttonband created by this technique is amazing. The buttonholes are firm, not saggy/droopy; they hold their shape but are flexible and stretch enough to let the button through easily but feel incredibly solid. Also the buttonband is solid. No stretch droop, sag,or flare and looks and feels like it will last years without losing shape. So, except for being a little fiddly to do (definitely worth the extra effort), my only concerns are 1) the open end of the buttonholes and 2) the effect of skipping step 2 of the grafting process, and I wonder if those two things are interrelated.

I haven’t tried the perfect buttonhole yet but they do look lovely.
You may be right about the reason for the closed section of the graft. I’d also have to work that out on a swatch. When I do Kitchener I use the conventional directions and of course, I’m usually not creating a tube, just joining two flat pieces.
Would it help in investigating this to use a different color yarn on the graft and try it both ways? That way you might be able to see the effect of step 2 or its lack.

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I just did one of these buttonholes following the steps in your link. Very interesting.

I think the reason the first purl bump comes off like it does is to anchor the grafting to the knitting of the band and not leave a loose mess. To complicate matters this is sort of a 3-needle bind off with Kitchener stitch. Tying the two ends to secure things is clever, just be sure your knot is secure. I can imagine it coming loose and OMG what a nightmare that would be. I did have some loose stitches at the other end of the buttonhole. I’ll have to do at least one more to know what to watch for before I would try it on an actual project.

Thanks for asking about this. I have intended to try this buttonhole but lacked motivation.

Having worked one it might be interesting to compare notes. We could help each other in perfecting the technique.