How to do the Kitchener Stitch

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.

closing the seam of a project knit in the round with the kitchener stitch - the seam is invisible

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.

A swatch where two knitted pieces where grafted together with a kitchener stitch in a contrasting red yarn

Instructions

Before you can start grafting the actual Kitchener Stitch, you need to do some preparations. You can use the same technique to stitch together two flat pieces or a project knit in the round.

Preparations

the stitches of a round project distributes on two needles in preparation for the kitchener stitch
  1. First, you need to distribute the stitches onto two needles. If you are knitting with the magic loop technique or flat, 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.
  2. Slide the stitches to the right side of the needles. This graft is worked from left to right.
  3. 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.

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.

From here, you have to graft two preparation stitches. You will only have to do this once.

Step A: Put your tapestry needle through the first stitch on the front needle as if to purl.

inserting the needle purlwise to prepare for the kitchener stitch

Step B: And then pull the yarn through the first stitch on the back needle as if to knit.

Inserting the needle knitwise in the back as a preparation

The repeat

The next 4 steps describe the actual Kitchener Stitch. It will seem a bit complicated at first, but once you get the hang of it, it will be super easy.

Step 1: Put your tapestry needle through the first stitch on the front needle knitwise and slip the stitch off the needle.

inserting the tapestry needle knitwise into the first needle on the front needle and dropping the stitch

Step 2: Insert the tapestry needle through the next stitch on the front needle purlwise and leave the stitch on the needle.

Inserting the needle knitwise and keeping the stitch on the needle

Step 3: Pull the yarn through the first stitch on the back needle purlwise and slip the stitch off the needle.

Inserting the tapestry needle into the first stitch on the back needle knitwise
Inserting the tapestry needle into the first stitch on the back needle knitwise and dropping the stitch

Step 4: Put the tapestry needle through the next stitch on the back needle knitwise and leave it on the needle.

Inserting the tapestry needle purlwise in the next stitch on the back needle and keeping the stitch on the needle

Repeat steps 1-4 until you reach the end of your project 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.

Some help to memorize the repeat:

A little cardboard card with the kitchener stitch instructions written on it
  1. Imitating knit stitches means starting out inserting knitwise.
  2. You never insert the needle the same way twice on the same needle.
  3. 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.
  4. 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 up

Tightening up the graft stitches of a kitchener stitch join with a tapestry needle

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 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.

And that’s it. That’s how you do the Kitchener Stitch in knitting. Feel free to ask your questions in the comments below

How to the the kitchener stitch in knitting

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