The Kitchener stitch technique is a valuable technique to have in your knitting arsenal, allowing you to create an invisible seam between two pieces of knitting. While it can seem intimidating at first, with a bit of practice and patience, you can quickly master this skill and elevate your finished projects to the next level. So let’s get started on this easy Kitchener stitch how to!
What is the Kitchener Stitch?
The Kitchener stitch, also known as grafting, is a technique that allows you to seamlessly join two pieces of knitting together. Following the step-by-step instructions of this Kitchener stitch how to, you can create an almost invisible join that looks like it’s part of the original knitting.
What is the Kitchener Stitch Used For?
The Kitchener stitch is most famously used for closing up the toe of a top-down sock. (And it’s named for Lord Kitchener who popularized the technique during WW1 to encourage production of socks for the troops.)
It’s also used for joining shoulders invisibly, see Elderwild, or finishing projects other projects like hats and mittens where you need to close up the top without leaving a visible seam.
And it’s the perfect join for tubular cowls like Silver Dusk, Truly Madly, and Viva La Rose! When paired with the duplicate stitch, you can make an invisible join for even these mosaic cowl knitting patterns.
Materials Needed for this Kitchener Stitch How To
- Tapestry needle
- Project yarn
- 2 pieces of knitted fabric with live stitches (stitches still on the needles ready to be knit)
First, you need a blunt needle (aka tapestry needle). I love a metal needle with a bent tip—it just makes it a little bit easier. The needle should have an eye large enough to accommodate the yarn and should not be so large that it will stretch your stitches.
Next, you’ll need a piece of project yarn 4 times the length of the finished edge. I recommend just cutting your tail to this length to give you fewer ends to weave in. And unlike a seam, you will see the yarn you are using to join, so it should be the same yarn you’re using for the rest of your project.
And finally, before you begin this Kitchener stitch how to, you need knitted fabric! So you’ll either need to have your knitting project ready or two swatches that have (roughly) the same weight and stitch count.
The project or swatch must have LIVE stitches—this just means that the stitches are on the needles and not bound off. (If you’ve got a provisional cast on see the next section.)
(Pro Tip: you can just unravel the same number of bound off stitches from 2 finished swatches.)
And it’s important to have the same number of stitches on each piece of fabric to be joined because the Kitchener stitch technique invisibly joins the stitches 1 by 1. Then you get started on aligning both pieces correctly before you get started!
Make Your Provisional Cast On Live Again: Aka Picking Up Provisional Stitches
If you’ve used a provisional cast on with waste yarn, you have one more quick step. Before starting your Kitchener stitch graft you first need to put your provisional cast-on stitches back on your working needles.
To do this use a needle 1-2 sizes smaller than you are using for your project. Insert the needle into the loop of each stitch below your provisional cast-on row, from back to front. You can then pull away your provisional cast-on yarn one stitch at a time.
Make sure to weave in any loose ends before starting the Kitchener graft.
Setting up Your Work for a Kitchener Stitch How To
Prepare your work for the Kitchener stitch join by ensuring that both pieces of knitted fabric are properly aligned. Make sure that both pieces of fabric are held parallel with the right sides facing up and live stitches facing inwards towards each other. As you work the Kitchener stitch how to, your live stitches on each piece line up 1 by 1.
Taking a moment to align everything helps ensure that your finished project looks neat and tidy without any visible seams. Once you have everything ready, you can proceed!
Tips for a Successful Kitchener Stitch Finish
The Kitchener stitch can be tricky to master, but with a little patience and these helpful tips, you’ll be able to create seamless finishes on your knitting projects.
- Make sure that you keep your tension even throughout the row. Uneven tension can cause bumps or lumps in the finished product. Your tension should match that of your stitch tension to perfectly mimic your stitches.
- Take breaks when necessary and come back to the technique with fresh eyes. Sometimes taking a quick break can help you see the stitch in a new light and make it easier to complete successfully.
So take a deep breath and let’s dive in!
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Step-by-Step Instructions for Kitchener Stitch in Knitting
The Kitchener stitch can seem daunting for beginners, but with the right guidance and practice, you’ll find that it’s got an easy, relaxing rhythm that you’ll come to enjoy!
So cut your working yarn to 4 times the circumference of your work to ensure you have enough yarn for the Kitchener stitch, thread it onto a tapestry needle, and let’s begin!
Set Up for Kitchener Stitch In the Round
If working a Kitchener stitch in the round, add a locking stitch marker to the first stitch on both the front and back needle.
This means you don’t need to create setup stitches and will be able to find your first stitches at the end of your cast-off to complete the invisible seam.
Set Up for Kitchener Stitch Flat
- Insert your tapestry needle into the first stitch on the front needle as if to purl. Keep it on your needle.
- Insert your tapestry needle into the first stitch on the back needle as if to knit. Keep it on your needle.
How to Kitchener Stitch: The Repeat
The Kitchener stitch is a 4 step process. There are 2 steps on the front needle and 2 steps on the back needle. And each stitch is worked twice before it’s fully bound off.
1. Insert the needle through the first stitch on the front needle as if to knit and remove it from the needle.
2. Insert the needle through the (new) first stitch on the front needle as if to purl, leaving the stitch on the needle.
3. Insert the needle through the first stitch on the back as if to purl and remove the stitch from the needle.
4. Insert the needle through the (new) first stitch on the back needle as if to knit, leaving the stitch on the needle.
Repeat steps four to six until all stitches have been worked across both needles, making sure that you keep tension even throughout.
How to Memorize the Kitchener Stitch
No one wants to be staring at instructions across a row of one hundred or even ten stitches. So here’s a little diddy you can chant to yourself while working the row.
With these steps in mind and practice under your belt you’ll ace this technique in no time!
BONUS: The Duplicate Stitch in Knitting
A duplicate stitch has a very similar construction to the Kitchener stitch, but instead of grafting live stitches, the duplicate stitch is worked over the top of existing fabric for visual effect.
The duplicate stitch is great for completing the invisible join of a tubular mosaic cowl or similar piece of knitting.
How to Duplicate Stitch on Knitting
To prepare for the duplicate stitch, cut your yarn to around two and a half times the circumference (or area) of your project and thread it onto your tapestry needle. Situate your tapestry needle so that it is at the back of your work.
The Duplicate Stitch Repeat
1. Insert your needle from the front to the back at the bottom of the stitch you wish to duplicate. (If you’re looking at the WS, it will be under on the purl bump. On the RS, it will be between the two legs at the base of the V.) Now, your yarn should be at the front of your work and at the bottom-center of the stitch you want to cover. Pull the yarn through and then stretch the knitted fabric to ensure the float is long enough.
2. Going from right to left on the RS of your work, insert your needle behind both legs (the entire V) of the stitch above the stitch(es) you want to cover/duplicate. (Note: This could be one stitch above or two stitches above the starting point if you’re mimicking a mosaic pattern) Pull the yarn through.
3. To complete the duplicate stitch, insert your needle into the same location that it emerged from in step 1—the center hole at the bottom of the duplicated stitch. Your yarn should now be sitting at the back of your work.
Move the tapestry needle along the back of your work until you reach the next stitch you would like to duplicate, then repeat steps 1-3.
If there is a long jump across the back of your work between duplicate stitches, consider catching your yarn under a purl bump to secure it. Do this by inserting your needle underneath a purl bump on the wrong side. (This has the same outcome as catching floats when working stranded colorwork knitting.)
And remember to stretch out your knitting before working step 2 of the duplicate stitch on knitting to make sure your floats are not too tight, which could cause your knitting to pucker.
Takeaway from the Kitchener Stitch How To
It’s easy! Yes, it is, I swear! You can do it!
It may take a few tries before it feels comfortable. But once it does you’ll be looking around for what else you can Kitchener together.
Still not sure? Sign up for my free Kitchener Stitch How To video tutorial below and unlock the entire video tutorial vault! It’s pretty awesome! And I think you’ll love it.
See you Thursday for the official release of Viva la Rose—a fabulous mosaic cowl on which you can practice your new Kitchener graft skills!