Kitchener Stitch

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Kitchener stitch is a method of grafting two sets of live stitches together.  With this technique, you are able to seam unbound stitches together invisibly:   the seam you create with your sewing needle actually creates a row of stitches.  Make sure that the two pieces you are grafting together each have the same number of stitches.

Although this technique is not rocket science, it does involve your concentration.  Until you are proficient, ensure that there are no distractions while you are seaming together two pieces using Kitchener Stitch, because it is easy to lose your place and forget where you are in the process.

This tutorial shows grafting together two  pieces of stockinette work, however, the same instructions will apply to grafting garter stitch.  Because this technique will simulate a row of knit stitches, it may not be the right choice for grafting patterned stitches unless your intent is to break the pattern.

You will be using a tapestry needle to do Kitchener Stitch.  The tapestry needle will be passed through the stitches in a manner similar  to the direction in which a knitting needle is inserted within a stitch:  purlwise or knitwise.

I find it useful to think of Kitchener Stitch as comprising of 3 distinct phases:  First 2 Stitches, Repeating Stitch Pattern, Last 2 Stitches.

First 2 Stitches

Kitchener Stitch, Step 1

Holding each set of stitches on 2 separate needles, hold the wrong sides of the work together so that the knit sides of the two works are facing out.  It is useful if you use a long tail from one of your pieces to do the grafting.  Make sure the yarn you use for grafting is at least three times the length of the width of the work you are grafting together.

Thread your tapestry needle.

Kitchener Stitch, Step 2

Forward Needle:  Pass your needle through the first stitch of the forward needle as if to purl and pull the needle and yarn through.

Kitchener Stitch, Step 3

Back Needle:  Keeping the working yarn and needle UNDER the needles, pass the needle through the first stitch of the back needle as if to knit.

 

Repeating Stitch Pattern

Keep the following rules and principles in mind as you continue with Kitchener Stitch:

  • Don't bring the needle or your grafting yarn OVER the needles:  Keep it UNDER the needles.
  • Make sure to drop stitches before moving between needles.
  • As you drop stitches off the needles, check the tension of your grafting row and adjust it as you go.
  • A stitch gets dropped off the needle once you have passed the tapestry needle through it twice.
  • I developed a silly mantra that works to help me keep my place.  It may work for you.  I repeat it as I work the repeating part of Kitchener Stitch:  " The front is always KNIT, PURL - The back is always PURL, KNIT "
Kitchener Stitch, Step 4

Kitchener Stitch, Step 5

#1 - Forward Needle

  • A:  Pass your needle through the first stitch of the forward needle as if to knit and pull the needle and yarn through.  This will be your 2nd pass with your tapestry needle through this stitch.

  • B:  Pass your needle through the second stitch of the forward needle as if to purl and pull the needle and yarn through.

  • Drop the first stitch off the front needle.

Kitchener Stitch, Step 6

Kitchener Stitch, Step 7

#2 - Back Needle

  • A:  Pass your needle through the first stitch of the back needle as if to purl and pull the needle and yarn through.  Keep the grafting yarn underneath the knitting needles.  This will be your 2nd pass with your tapestry needle through this stitch.

  • B:  Pass your needle through the second stitch of the back needle as if to knit and pull the needle and yarn through.

  • Drop the first stitch off the back needle.  Adjust the tension of the grafted stitches so that it is the same as the stitches on the 2 items you are grafting together.

Kitchener Stitch, Step 8

You will repeat #1 and #2 until there is only one stitch remaining on each of your needles.

Last 2 Stitches

Kitchener Stitch, Step 9

Forward Needle:  Pass your needle through the first stitch of the forward needle as if to knit and pull the needle and yarn through.

Kitchener Stitch, Step 10

Back Needle:  Keeping the working yarn and needle UNDER the needles, pass the needle through the first stitch of the back needle as if to purl.

Kitchener Stitch, Step 11

Drop all stitches off your needles and make any necessary tension adjustments by tugging at the work.   The grafting effort is now complete.  Sit back and admire your work!