Kitchener Stitch Tutorial
How to Graft Stitches with Kitchener Stitch:
Kitchener Stitch is a binding-off technique that allows you to smoothly and invisibly graft together two pieces of “live” knitting (knitting still on your needles). I use Kitchener Stitch to finish the shoulders of the dresses and shirts of my Simple Storybook Dolls. Here’s how it works:
- Your knitting, divided evenly over two needles
- A darning needle
- Cut your yarn, leaving a tail of at least 30 cm (12 inches) or longer depending on how many stitches you want to graft.
- Align your needles parallel, with the front sides of the work (usually the knit sides) facing outward.
- Thread the darning needle with the end of your yarn, and put it through the first stitch on your front needle as if to purl.* Leave the stitch on the needle, but pull your yarn tail all the way through.
4. Then turn the darning needle and put it through the first stitch on your back needle as if to knit.** Leave this stitch on your needle, and pull your yarn tail all the way through.
Steps 3 and 4 are the initial set-up to keep anything from unraveling. Now it’s time for the main phase.
- Put your darning needle through the first stitch on the front needle as if to knit. Pull the yarn tail all the way through, and then slide this stitch off the needle (it’s secure, I promise!)
6. You now have a new “first stitch” on your front needle. Put your darning needle through this new first stitch as if to purl, and pull the yarn tail all the way through. Leave this stitch on the needle. (This is pretty much the same as step 3, if you remember.)
7. Now put your darning needle through the first stitch on the back needle as if to purl. Pull the yarn tail all the way through. Slide this stitch off the needle.
8. You now have a new “first stitch” on your back needle. Put your darning needle on this new first stitch as if to knit, pull the yarn tail all the way through, and leave this stitch on the needle. (What do you know, just like step 4!)
That’s it: now you just have to repeat steps 5-8 until you’ve grafted all the stitches you need to graft. While Kitchener isn’t intrinsically that difficult, it can get a bit tricky with all the front needle/back needle and as-if-to-knit/as-if-to-purl and slide stitch off/keep stitch on business. So here’s a short cut to keep repeating in your head:
Front. Knit. Off.
Front. Purl. On.
Back. Purl. Off.
Back. Knit. On.
And in large font:
Every couple of stitches, wiggle and pull gently at your knitting so that the grafting stitches even out. It should look just like a knitting row, smoothly blending in with the rows on either side of it.
*as if to purl means you pretend your darning needle is a knitting needle and stick it into the stitch from the right side, coming out on the left, just like you would stick your knitting needle in from right to left if your were purling the stitch.
**as if to knit means you pretend your darning needle is a knitting needle and stick it into the stitch from the left side, coming out on the right, just like you would stick your knitting needle in from left to right if you were knitting the stitch.