O’ Kitchener! O’ Kitchener! Of All the Seams Most Lovely

Posted by on Dec 22, 2013 in Knitting | Comments


Kitchener stitch is a finishing technique in knitting used to seam two sets of live stitches invisibly. It is essentially a new set of stitches woven from both live edges! Also called grafting in knitting, the Kitchener stitch is fun to say, but can seem a little daunting to new knitters.

Kitchener Stitch Tutorial - Stitch in Swatches

Here is a tutorial for grafting two edges of stockinette stitch together:

Your stitches should be arranged on two needles so that when the purl sides are facing each other, you have the points of the needles on the right.

For the purpose of this tutorial, I have used a contrasting piece of yarn, but you can certainly use the tail of one of your pieces. It’s best if the tail comes from the piece that is at the back. Make sure the tail or contrasting piece of yarn is about three times as long as the edge you want to graft. Thread your tail through a yarn or tapestry needle and perform the following set-up steps once:

kitchener stitch set up step 1
On the needle in front, go through the first stitch as if to purl, or from back to front. Do not pull the stitch off the needle. If you are working with a tail, you can pull the yarn all the way through, but if you are working with a separate piece, make sure to leave an end long enough to weave in later.

kitchener stitch set up step 2
On the needle in back, go through the first stitch as if to knit, or from front to back. Do not pull the stitch off the needle.

Now, you are ready to start grafting!

Kitcehener stitch step 1
Step 1:

On the front needle, go through the first stitch as if to knit. Pull the stitch off the needle.

Kitchener stitch step 2
Step 2:

Still on the front needle, go through the [new] first stitch as if to purl. Do not pull the stitch off the needle.

Kitchener stitch step 3
Step 3:

On the back needle, go through the first stitch as if to purl. Pull the stitch off the needle.

Kitchener stitch step 4
Step 4:

Still on the back needle, go through the [new] first stitch as if to knit. Do not pull the stitch off the needle.

Repeat these four steps for the Kitchener stitch. You might find it easy to remember if you chant, “knit, purl, purl, knit” as you go along.

Loose grafted stitches
Only tighten lightly as you are grafting. You will be able to adjust this row of stitches later to match the gauge of the rest of your project.

Once you get a hang of the technique, you might be able to combine Steps 1-2 into a single movement and Steps 3-4 into another. It becomes fairly simple to pull the stitch off the needle knit-wise and then go through the next purl-wise (and vice-versa for Steps 3-4), as seen below:

Kitchener steps 1-2 knit purl

When you only have one stitch left on each needle, do Step 1, then jump to Step 3. After this, you can begin to adjust the tension of the row. Start on the right side of the row and pull up the right side of the stitch, then the left. It sounds tedious, but it’s quick work and makes all the difference!

Loosely grafted stitches

Complete kitchener stitch

Grafting stockinette stitch is a fairly simple process, but weaving edges together in garter stitch or rib can be a little more complicated. When you’re learning knit grafting, it’s important to learn the following:

  • Techniques for knitting fabrics of different weights
  • To Kitchener stitch across both cabled and ribbed fabric
  • To join seamless-looking stockinette, garter and seed stitches
  • And how to plan, chart and align motifs

Have you used any methods of grafting? I admit I’ve only ever needed to graft toes of socks and once in the back of a hybrid (saddle shoulder and raglan) sweater. I have always thought it was a nice treat at the end of a long block of knitting.

Will you try the Kitchener stitch?

Comments

  1. Pat Burch says:

    I was always amazed about the stitch. And frustrated. Being a fairly new knitter, I basically knitted socks. And the Kitchener and not always pretty. Then came Christmas and the knitted vest for the husband. I tried the stitch on the shoulders and didn’t like the results. Ripped it out and that was interesting in itself. So, I practiced 2 – 3 times on waste yarn. That did the trick. It turned out lovely on the vest. I feel so smug! But it does look nice. Practice was the trick for me.