A step by step tutorial on grafting knitting projects together with purl stitches
So, you know how to do the Kitchener Stitch but you don’t know how to do it on the purl side of a garment? No problem! In this tutorial, I am going to show you step by step how to graft purl stitches in knitting.
No matter if you want to graft a toe on a knitted sock or shoulders of a sweater, the purled Kitchener Stitcher stitch is an almost invisible method to join two pieces together. All you need is a tapestry needle* and some patience.
So, let’s dive right into it, eh?
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Step A: Start by distributing your stitches evenly on two needles with the knit side facing each other and the points of the needles on the right. The tail/working yarn should come from the piece that is in the back.
Both pieces should be parallel to each other – one knitting needle in the front (henceforth the front needle), and one, with an equal amount of stitches, in the back (henceforth the back needle).
Step B: Cut the working yarn using a scissor leaving a tail that is at least 3 times as long as wide as the pieces you want to graft together. Thread the tail onto a blunt tapestry needle.
Note: I am using a contrasting yarn for demonstration purposes only
Step C: Now, pull the tapestry needle through the first stitch on the knitting needle in front as if to knit (and leave the stitch on the needle).
Step D: Continue by going through the first stitch on the second knitting as if to purl (and leave the stitch on the needle).
Now that you finished the preparation, it’s time to start with the actual repeat. Pull the tail taught after each step, but don’t pull to hard. Just a gentle tug so the resulting stitches will match the gauge of your project.
Step 1: Go through the first stitch on the front needle as if to purl and slip the stitch off the needle.
Step 2: Go through the (new) first stitch on the front needle as if to knit and leave it on the needle.
Step 3: Pass the yarn through the first stitch on the back needle as if to knit and slip the stitch off the needle.
Step 4: Pull the yarn through the (new) first stitch on the back needle as if to purl and keep it on the needle.
Repeat steps 1-4 until you slipped the last stitch off.
Here’s an easy way to memorize it.
- It’s purl knit, knit purl...
- Always drop the first stitch, and keep the second stitch
- You drop the stitch the way you kept the last stitch and then you change (step 2 is inserting knitwise and step 3 is dropping knitwise, and then it’s inserting purlwise)
And even easier way to envision it is looking at the row below. If you look close enough, you can see how those little bumps that form the purl stitches two rows below. The one between the first two stitches on your needle. You basically just emulate the way the yarn goes in and out of them.
Finishing up a Kitchener Stitch on the purl side
Once you dropped your last stitch, you can actually just pull tight and everything will be secure as it is. For the toes of socks, you can then simply thread the yarn through the gap around the last stitch, bring it to the wrong side, pull tight once, and then weave in the remainder of the tail on the inside.
Then, sometimes it makes sense to adjust the seam by stretching out the grafted stitches. Do so gently and one at a time. That way you can adjust the gauge so the stitch becomes truly invisible.
Note: By combing the Kitchener stitch knitwise and purlwise you can graft 2×2 ribbing.
Tips for a better graft
Once you get the hang of it, the Kitchener stitch on the purl side is actually just as easy as the regular version. But here are a couple of things to consider:
- Be careful when you tighten up the stitches. Sometimes the yarn gets trapped above the needles and this might create an additional stitch/loop. Always keep the yarn below.
- Again, don’t tighten up too hard or you will get a visible seam. The idea is to sew as lightly as you would normally knit.
- You can actually combine steps 2 and 3. As you thread the tapestry needle through the “second” stitch knitwise you can continue onwards through the first stitch on the back needle (and likewise you can combine steps 4 and 1).