Kitchener Stitch

Last week I posted a two-part article on knitting in the military, and there was some interest in the method of grafting sock toes developed during WWI. I suspect many of you are already familiar with it, but I did promise to post a tutorial, just in case. The technique is named after Lord Herbert Kitchener of Khartoum, who invented the technique and encouraged a campaign for British and American women to use his pattern rather than the more foot-irritating traditional seams when knitting for soldiers. It creates a smooth, seamless appearance when joining two pieces of stockinette. It is typically used to graft sock toes, but can also be used to join lightweight sweater shoulders and all sorts of interesting less-conventional items as well. In the demo pictures I am grafting the ends of a circular sweater (Pole) together.

To Kitchener

Pre-Kitchener: If you are grafting sock toes, or anything else that involves attaching two sides of something worked in the round, you will skip this step. If you are grafting a provisional cast-on to your most recent row, you will need to remove the scrap yarn and place your stitches on the near needle.

provisional cast on

Preparatory Steps – You will do these three steps only once, when you first begin your graft.

Prep 1. Hold the needles parallel, with the purl sides facing inwards and the yarn tail on the end of the needle farther away from you. Make sure you have an equal number of stitches on each needle. If you have an odd number of total stitches, you will need to complete an extra step at the end. It does not matter which needle you put your “leftover” stitch on.

needles

Prep 2. Using a tapestry needle threaded with your nice, long yarn tail, insert the needle into the first stitch on the near needle as if to purl. Pull the tail through.

setup2

Prep 3. Now insert the tapestry needle into the first stitch on the far needle as if to knit. Pull the tail through.

setup3

Actual Kitchener Grafting – You will repeat these four steps until you run out of stitches.

Step 1. Insert the tapestry needle into the first stitch on the near needle as if to knit. Pull the yarn through, dropping the stitch off the needle at the same time.

step 1

Step 2. Insert the tapestry needle into the next stitch on the same needle as if to purl. Pull the yarn through. Do not take the stitch off the needle.

step 2

Note the new location of the dropped stitch from Step 1.

Step 3: Insert the tapestry needle into the first stitch on the far needle as if to purl. Pull the yarn through, pulling the stitch off the needle at the same time.

step 3

Step 4: Insert the tapestry needle into the next stitch on the same needle as if to knit. Pull the yarn through. Do not take the stitch off the needle.

step 4

Repeat these four steps until you have two (or three) stitches remaining. Remember: knit, purl, purl, knit.  Repeat Step 1, then go directly to Step 3.

If you have no stitches remaining, weave in your ends. You are done. If you have one stitch remaining:

Special directions for odd numbers of stitches

Thread your tapestry needle through the last remaining stitch. Pull it down against the purl side (wrong side) of your fabric. Thread your tapestry needle through the stitch again to attach it to the fabric. If your yarn is smooth and heavy, or you are worried about small objects escaping through your knitting, you may wish to do a quick whip stitch to secure this corner of the graft even more.

odd number stitch

That’s all there is to it. Congratulations, you have mastered Lord Kitchener’s pet project! Go forth, and graft stitches. 😉

invisible seam

 

Need a project to practice on? Try my Flourishing Fields.

Advertisements

5 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by caityrosey on August 9, 2012 at 8:44 pm

    What I’d really love to try is the afterthought heels and toes. Seems like such a good idea, and makes me much more inclined to wear my hand knitted socks like a normal person and less like I was afraid of hurting them.

    Reply

  2. […] a big fan of Kitchener stitch, and like to use it to make nice, seamless joins in my stockinette. However, like most knitters I […]

    Reply

  3. […] which can be found here and a video version of this, which can be seen here. I also checked out this page on the kitchener […]

    Reply

What do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: