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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!

19 Comments leave one →
  1. 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

  2. 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

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

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

  4. 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).

  5. 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!

  6. 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.

  7. 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!

  8. 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)!!!!

  9. 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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