A step by step tutorial on how to graft two knitted pieces together using the Kitchener Stitch. Easy to follow instructions for beginners.
Are you looking for an invisible way to graft two knitted pieces together? Then you came to the right place! No matter if you want to finish the toes of socks or join a scarf into a loop, the Kitchener Stitch is what you are looking for.
In this tutorial, I am going to show you exactly how to knit it and give you a little help to memorize the repeat once and for all.
Note: This technique only works for stockinette stitch. Here’s a tutorial for Kitchener Stitch on the purl side and one that works for garter stitch seams. Also, check out my full tutorial on grafting knitting stitches.
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Instructions for the Kitchener Stitch
The Kitchener Stitch only works for stockinette stitch. You can use it for flat projects or when you knit in the round. Before you can start grafting, you need to do some preparations.
Note: I will be using a contrasting yarn for this tutorial so you can see the seam better. If you like the look of it, you can certainly toy around with a different color, but usually, most knitters graft the knit stitches using the working yarn.
- Preparations for the Kitchener Stitch
First, you need to distribute the stitches onto two needles. If you are knitting with the magic loop technique or in the round, you should already be set. The working yarn should be coming from the first stitch on the needle in the back.
There should be an equal number of stitches on both needles. If there aren't, redistribute stitches or decrease/bind off until there are - otherwise you won't be able to finish the row.
Slide the stitches to the right side of the needles. This graft is worked from right to left.
If you are knitting flat, then align the two pieces you want to join with the wrong side facing each other. (If you are knitting in the round, then this will be the default).
Now, cut the working yarn leaving a tail that is at least 3 times as long as the edge you want to join is wide, and thread it on a tapestry needle.
From here, you have to graft two preparation stitches. You will only have to do this once.
- Preparation stitch a: Put your tapestry needle through the first stitch on the front needle as if to purl.
- Preparation stitch b: Next, pull the yarn through the first stitch on the back needle as if to knit.
From here, you will start with the actual repeat for the Kitchener stitch.
- Put your tapestry needle through the first stitch on the front needle knitwise and slip the stitch off the needle.
- Insert the tapestry needle through the next stitch on the front needle purlwise and leave the stitch on the needle.
- Pull the yarn through the first stitch on the back needle purlwise and slip the stitch off the needle.
- Put the tapestry needle through the next stitch on the back needle knitwise and leave it on the needle.
Repeat the last 4 steps until you reach the end of your row and you have grafted all stitches together.
After each step, you should tighten up the stitches lightly. You don’t want to pull too hard because you want to emulate knit stitches and not tie knots.
Be careful that the yarn doesn't get caught. You always have to keep it below your needles as you pull tight.
Some help to memorize the Kitchener Stitch:
- Imitating knit stitches means starting out inserting knitwise.
- You never insert the needle the same way twice on the same needle.
- You are always inserting the needle into the first stitch of the next needle the way you did the last stitch on the first needle (step 2 + 3 = purlwise, step 1+4 = knitwise).
Another way of saying this could be: You start purlwise on the back needle because you are actually grafting the wrong side and a purl will appear like a knit on the right side.
- The first stitch is always slipped, and the second stitch is always kept on the needle for now.
I would recommend you writing the instructions on a little piece of paper and keep it in front of you. If you write it on cardboard, you could even find a more permanent home in your project bag for future patterns. This is what I could write:
- Front: Knit & slip, purl & keep
- Back: Purl & slip, knit & keep
Finishing your seam
Once you are finished grafting the two pieces together and depending on how tight you pulled after each step, the result may et look a bit wonky. This, however, is no problem at all.
Simply pick up the tapestry needle one more time, and go through each stitch (starting on the far right) and tighten it up by pulling on the loops. While you do that, the loop of the stitch you are currently working on will naturally get bigger and bigger. Once you reached the end of the row, you can simply pull on the tail and it will vanish.
The idea is to meet the gauge of the rest of your project. It might take a little time to do so, but it’s far easier than trying to loosen the stitches up because you grafted too tight.
Once you are satisfied with the results, simply weave in the tail on the wrong side. If you are knitting in the round, then you can pull the tail through the last stitch of your graft, pull tight, and weave in the rest on the inside.
Note: I also have an advanced tutorial on how grafting 2×2 ribbing using a similar technique.
9 thoughts on “How to do the Kitchener Stitch”
Very easy to interpret. Thank you.
Happy to hear that!
Very helpful, thank you
Really clear instructions. Love the bit about tidying up the stitches at the end. Perfect
Sometimes I can’t follow picture tutorials, but all of these instructions were VERY clear. I love that you show exactly where the needle should go and that you used a different color yarn. Thank you so much!
What does the wrong side of a kitchener joined piece look like? The right side of my work looks okay, it is difficult to see the join, but on the wrong side you can see a tiny ridge across…..perhaps I pulled the stitches too tight?
probably. there shouldn’t be a ridge and it should be invisible from both sides.
Thank you! How do you avoid the little bump at the last stitch of toe, please. I refer to it as an ear.
Thanks for these very clear written instructions.
well, I typically pull the tail through the little “hole” right below and that kind of draws the ear in.
Some ppl don’t do the preparation stitch to avoid it at the beginning.