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The Kitchener Stitch

October 3, 2013

The kitchener stitch is a way to graft live stitches together creating a seamless join. It’s often used to close up the toes of socks or shoulder seams, (among other things). Although it is possible to use the kitchener stitch to graft ribbing or purl stitches, it is most commonly used to graft two pieces stockinette stitch together.

::: how to graft live stitches using Kitchener Stitch :::

Work Setup Steps A, B, C and D once, then repeat Steps 1-4

Setup Step A: make sure your stitches are on 2 needles and wrong or purl sides are facing each other.

Setup Step B: thread your tail (or some new yarn if you don’t have a tail to use) on a darning needle.blog-rye-kitchener-01

Setup Step C : put your darning needle through the first stitch on the front needle as if to purl and pull your yarn through leaving the stitch on the needle.

blog-rye-kitchener-03

This illustration shows how needle is inserted in a ‘purlwise’ direction – it is shown on the front needle for clarity, but it works the same on the back needle.

Setup Step D: put your darning needle through the first stitch on the back needle (being careful not to put it OVER the needle) as if to knit and pull your yarn through leaving the stitch on the needle.

blog-rye-kitchener-02

This illustration shows how needle is inserted in a ‘knitwise’ direction – it is shown on the front needle for clarity, but it works the same on the back needle.

Steps to Repeat:

Step 1: put your darning needle through the first stitch on the front needle knitwise, thread your yarn through, and slip that stitch off the needle.

Step 2: put your darning needle through the next stitch on the front needle purlwise, thread your yarn through, and leave the stitch on the needle.

Step 3: put your darning needle through the first stitch on the back needle purlwise, thread your yarn through, and slip that stitch off the needle.

Step 4: put your darning needle through the next stitch on the back needle knitwise, thread your yarn through, and leave the stitch on the needle.

Repeat steps 1-4 until 1 stitch remains on each needle, then work steps 1 and 3 one more time.

This process requires complete concentration, and I like to chant a little ditty to keep me on track:
front knit off / front purl on / back purl off / back knit on… repeat

I also like to keep a little hand-written cue card with the steps in my knitting kit, to refer to when I need to graft a sock toe!

Once you have threaded the yarn through all of the stitches, you should use a little blunt needle tip to gently and carefully tighten up the stitches one at a time, before weaving in your ends!

Adorable free Pattern: Rye Socks – check it out!

50 Comments leave one →
  1. Wick permalink
    September 11, 2021 11:39 am

    i learned to knit a few years ago with this sock pattern being the first pattern i ever followed, and every time i need to use kitchener stitch, i have to come back to your description. it is the easiest for me to follow. the video tutorials are so wordy or slow or they keep moving things and it gets hard to focus. it really helps me so much to just repeat, “front knit drop, front purl keep, back purl drop, back knit keep”
    i appreciate how clearly you’ve made your patterns. i’ll be trying out more soon.

  2. Cat Storm permalink
    August 10, 2021 8:22 pm

    Years ago I learned Kitchener stitch using the knitting method and I haven’t resorted to the darning needle method ever since. Here’s the link to Techknitting’s blog post, it’s brilliant:

    https://techknitting.blogspot.com/2007/05/easier-way-to-kitchener-stitch-also.html?m=1

    • Isabelle permalink
      September 24, 2021 9:19 am

      Thank you so much Alexa! Im new to knitting socks, and this is my 5th attempt at a Kitchener stitch, trying new instructions every time and yours is the first to work for me!

  3. Sheila Schneider permalink
    July 23, 2021 12:07 pm

    When dividing the remaining stitches on two needles, for Kitchener stitch, should the tail be on the front needle or the back needle or does it matter as long as the stitches are divided equally? Thanks

  4. Diana permalink
    June 24, 2021 9:11 pm

    Thank you so much for this.
    I’ve tried numerous times to do this technique and this is the 1st time it’s been successful

  5. Megan Manning permalink
    December 14, 2020 1:06 pm

    I finished my first pair! I used ToadHollow Toad DK in the Dwarves color. But somehow on tHe second sock the toe is shorter than that of the first? It still fits pretty good, and the stitch count was spot on? Any advice on where I went off?I’ll post photos on the Crafty Toads FB group and can email you them.

    • December 15, 2020 5:34 am

      Hi Megan – it’s hard to know without seeing, or without knowing just what you did. perhaps you missed out a knit round in between decrease rounds? ~ Em

  6. Margaret to Johnson permalink
    December 3, 2020 9:53 am

    Thank you, clear, precise instructions much appreciated

  7. Robin permalink
    October 15, 2020 10:14 pm

    Finally, directions that made sense. Thank you! Finishing up a knit Christmas Stocking for my granddaughter using the same 1945 pattern my granny used to make my stocking.

  8. September 26, 2020 3:13 am

    Brilliant thanks, clearest instructions I’ve found! Just used them to complete my first sock.

  9. Heather M permalink
    June 28, 2020 6:08 pm

    This seems so simple, but I can’t get this right. My grafted Kitchener stitch row keeps coming out with the knit v’s on the back, and the purl bumps on the front. Why is my work backwards?

    • June 28, 2020 6:49 pm

      Hi Heather – It sounds like you are starting with the right sides together, rather than the wrong sides?

  10. Nadette permalink
    October 28, 2019 7:36 am

    I knit the 1898 hat but could not figure out how to use the Kitchener stitch with four layers of knitting! Drove me crazy and I finally used a three needle bind off on each end and seamed It was not easy doing this to the provisional cast on. Any ideas for the next hat?

    • October 29, 2019 3:05 pm

      Hi Nadette – Wow, I haven’t used the kitchener to put together 4 layers of knitting before!

    • Anne Boyd permalink
      November 4, 2019 2:31 pm

      I am at that exact point right now on the 1898 hat (which is why I’m looking at blog posts about how to do kitchener)

      As I read the instructions, you are supposed to graft together the two ends BEFORE you fold over the headband to double it.

  11. Cheryl S Lewman permalink
    September 30, 2019 3:12 pm

    Every time I need to do the kitchener, this is the post I go to! It’s super easy and I just need a quick refresher each time. This saves me a ton of time from watching some lengthy video that I don’t need. Really, this might be my favorite knitting “lesson” out there!

  12. Linda Taylor permalink
    September 15, 2019 1:15 pm

    Best tutorial on Kitchener stitch I have found so far. Thank you

  13. Agnes Johnston permalink
    October 21, 2018 1:19 pm

    Finished my First Ever Sock! Baby Squirrel.
    The heel is not very neat-had a few issues doing it🙄. Grafting toe was fairly simple! It resembles a sock at least. 😁

  14. Carol Loy permalink
    October 1, 2018 3:37 am

    Thank you so much for the clear rendition of kitchener stitch. I love your poem too…

  15. lily permalink
    January 31, 2018 12:06 pm

    Thank you SO MUCH! I have made about ten pairs of socks now, and this is the first time I’ve been able to finish by grafting. No other tutorial had helped before! Everybody’s toes will be much happier, now. BTW the Rye socks are absolutely addictive.

  16. susie permalink
    May 26, 2017 10:32 am

    thanks for sharing this detailed tutorial! I will print it and keep it in my project bag! Never enough pictures for me:) Why are socks so difficult for some people (me). I keep trying but am not satisfied with my work. Thanks again!

  17. Chris permalink
    September 15, 2016 9:58 am

    The tutorials are so easy to understand. I am half way through knitting the flex sweater. I’m loving it. Thanks for all your helpful tips

  18. August 12, 2016 2:16 pm

    Thanks for this! I finished a sock while away from home and, although I could knit a pair of socks blindfolded, I cannot graft the toes without my trusty Debbie Stoller text by my side. Your tutorial was an excellent replacement. 😀
    Shannon Sonagle

  19. Eunice Abel permalink
    March 17, 2016 4:35 pm

    How does one combine in Kitchener stitch in a knit-purl ribbing pattern?

  20. December 12, 2015 7:42 pm

    I don’t understand where the yarn goes in the Kitchener stitch. I see how to insert the needle for knit and purl, but the yarn ends up wrapping all over the place!

    • December 14, 2015 12:06 am

      Hi Pamela – the yarn is going through the sts the same way the needle is, following the same path. The important thing is not having the yarn go OVER the needle (that will create an extra stitch).

  21. joy hortie permalink
    September 12, 2015 10:37 am

    Is there a printable version of this so I can tuck it into my knitting bag for reference

    • September 12, 2015 6:25 pm

      We don’t yet have it in PDF form, but if you hit file -> print it should print out the blog post for ya!

  22. Maggie permalink
    January 28, 2015 8:32 am

    Thank you for your very clear Grafting instructions. I have just successfully grafted my first sock toe! ever so slightly bumpy at the corners, but otherwise surprisingly neat. I am soooo pleased.

  23. Ia Koyno permalink
    December 19, 2014 5:22 am

    Thank you so much for the pattern! I’ve just finished my first sock. Simply love it!

  24. Ramamonjisoa Pilar permalink
    November 6, 2013 1:33 pm

    Please, can you translate in french because I don’t anderstand all you said; I am too old (73 years)!!!!

    • November 7, 2013 10:13 pm

      If only I knew enough French to do it!

    • Sandra permalink
      December 20, 2018 2:08 am

      Ramamonjisoa, I just did a search using google: “kitchener, francais”.
      It found several picture guides and videos.

  25. October 18, 2013 12:09 am

    Thank you for the free Rye Socks pattern, I absolutely love it. This is the next pair of socks on my needles. :-)

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