Tutorial Tuesday: Kitchener Stitch

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This is a technique to create a seamless join.  This method is great for seaming toes of top-down socks, baby garments and any join where you don’t want to see a join.

Kitchener stitch is also referred to as grafting and is the process of weaving together two sets of stitches that are still on the needles.

Did you know that the Kitchener stitch has its origins from WW1?  Apparently the First Earl Kitchener developed a sock pattern for British and American women to use in the war knitting effort. In contrast to the sock trends of the day (which had a seamed toe) Kitchener’s sock pattern had a grafted toe.

So how do you do the Kitchener (Graft) Stitch?

To begin your join you MUST have the same amount of stitches on each needle.  Thread your tapestry needle with a length of yarn.  Your yarn should be about twice the length of the finished join to ensure that you have enough.

Hold your needles parallel to each other and the tips pointing in the same direction (as if you were beginning your next row).  Remember the wrong (purl) sides should be facing inwards so that the grafting is created on the outside of the work.

Set-Up

There is a sequence to grafting and once you get the rhythm you will find it easier.  But to begin the process you need to insert the tapestry needle into the first stitch on the front needle as if to purl; and then gently pull your yarn through but do not remove the stitch from the needle.

Next insert the tapestry needle through the first stitch on the back needle as if to knit, put the yarn through as before but do not remove the stitch from the needle.

Grafting Repeat Steps
  1. Insert tapestry needle into the first stitch on the front needle as if to knit and then slip the stitch off the needle, pulling the yarn through.
  2. Insert the tapestry needle into the next stitch on the front needle as if to purl, but leave stitch on the needle and pull the yarn through.
  3. Insert tapestry needle into the first stitch on the back needle as if to purl and then slip the stitch off the needle, pulling the yarn through.
  4. Insert tapestry needle into the next stitch on the back needle as if to knit, but do not remove the stitch, pull the yarn through.

Repeat these four steps until you have two stitches left on your knitting needles.  Then do step one and then step three again.

Once you get the hang of this process you can do the kitchener mantra: knit off (step 1), purl on (step 2), purl off (step 3), knit on (step 4).

TIP: If you run out of yarn you can turn your work and start with a new piece of yarn at the other end and then keep going until the centre sections meet and then you can graft off the yarns together (Thanks for this one Una!)