Tips with Trish – Kitchener Stitch

Kitchener Stitch is a clever way to join two pieces of live knitting using your working yarn and a darning or tapestry needle. The particular order in which the stitches are worked mimics a row of knitting resulting in a smooth and seamless finish. Kitchener Stitch is the most common way to finish the toes on socks, but it can also be used to join shoulder seams and underarm stitches. It is worth noting, however, that grafting shoulder seams does not provide any structural integrity and should not be used for heavy yarns.

It can take a while to get the hang of Kitchener Stitch so don’t give up if it isn’t perfect the first time. Let’s walk through the steps together and then I’ll tell you a few tricks that help me maintain an even tension and keep track of which step I’m on.

We will work two Set-Up Steps to begin, and then repeat Steps 3 through 6 until all stitches have been worked.

Set-Up Step 1: Cut your working yarn leaving a generous tail and thread it through a blunt darning or tapestry needle. Holding your knitting needles parallel, insert your index finger between the two needles to give yourself some room to work. Insert the tapestry needle into the first stitch on the front needle as if to purl and pull the yarn through leaving the stitch on the needle.

Set-Up Step 2: Insert the tapestry needle into the first stitch on the back needle as if to knit and pull the yarn through leaving the stitch on the needle.

Step 3: Insert the tapestry needle into the first stitch on the front needle as if to knit, pull the yarn through and take the stitch off the needle.

Step 4: While still working on the front needle, insert the tapestry needle into the next stitch as if to purl, pull the yarn through and leave this stitch on the needle.

Step 5: Insert the tapestry needle into the first stitch on the back needle as if to purl, pull the yarn through and remove this stitch from the needle.

Step 6: While still working on the back needle, insert the tapestry needle into the next stitch as if to knit, pull the yarn through and leave this stitch on the needle.

Repeat Steps 3 through 6 until all stitches have been worked. Be mindful of your tension and try not to pull too hard as this will distort the line of stitching. I find it helps to keep my index finger in between my needles and under the fabric as I’m working as it enables me to see the stitches and measure my tension. Gently pull your yarn every few stitches to adjust your tension or use the tip of your tapestry needle.

The Kitchener Stitch isn’t hard, but it does require concentration and patience. I have a little mantra to keep me on track that goes through my head when I’m grafting. After I complete the first two set-up steps, I chant through Steps 3 through 6 like this: Front – knit take it off, purl leave it on. Back – purl take it off, knit leave it on.

You’ll find your Kitchener “tune” in time and once you get that rhythm, you’ll wonder why you avoided grafting for so long!

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