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Kitchener Stitch

Kitchener stitch is a technique for invisibly weaving together live stitches. The photo above shows Kitchener stitch worked in contrasting yarn so that you can see what it does. Knitters tend to shy away from learning this stitch because it seems complicated when all written out, but it's actually very simple to do; the only real challenge is keeping track of where you are in the steps.

Step 1: Thread a tapestry needle with the same yarn you used to work your project. Hold the needles with the live stitches parallel in your left hand. Insert the tapestry needle through the first stitch on the front needle as if to PURL. Pull the yarn through, leaving a tail that you will weave in later. Leave the stitch on the front needle.

Step 2: Insert the tapestry needle through the first stitch on the back needle as if to KNIT, pull the yarn through, leaving the stitch on the back needle.

Step 3: Insert the tapestry needle through the first stitch on the front needle as if to KNIT, pull the yarn through, removing the stitch from the front needle.

Step 4: Insert the tapestry needle through the first stitch on the front needle as if to PURL, pull the yarn through, leaving the stitch on the front needle.

Step 5: Insert the tapestry needle through the first stitch on the back needle as if to PURL, pull the yarn through, removing the stitch on the back needle.

Step 6: Insert the tapestry needle through the first stitch on the back needle as if to KNIT, pull the yarn through, leaving the stitch on the back needle.

Repeat Step 3 - Step 6 until all stitches have been worked. Every few stitches, adjust the tension of your work, making sure not to pull too tightly. Remember, you are making an extra row of knitting rather than sewing together a seam.

41 Responses to Kitchener Stitch


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  1. judy says:

    Hey, thanks for the tutorial!

    I just want to add two little pieces of information:
    1. This will add a row of stitches to your finished object (this is something not always immediately apparent to beginners).
    2. This method will give you an invisible stockinette stitch _not_ garter stitch.

    :)

  2. Noemi says:

    Thanks soooo much for this tutorial! I’ve seen it done before but I never tried it myself it was nice that I knew exactly where to go to find out how to do it! HERE! thanks!!

  3. Stacey says:

    Thank you so much. I used the attached i-cord tutorial and the kitchener stitch as well. Both were EXTREMELY helpful. Your directions and photos are very clear. Thanks again!!!

  4. Charlene says:

    Thanks for the pattern! I am enjoying making it. I am having one problem though. Everytime I try to graft the icord together, it doesn’t look right. I’ve taken it apart so many times already and I can’t figure out what I’m doing wrong. The front needle is the needle without the working yarn correct? Or am I doing this wrong? Any advice?

  5. purlbee says:

    Hi Charlene,

    It sounds like you have the needles properly arranged. I suspect the trouble is in identifying the first and last stitches of the I-cord. They can be somewhat obscure because of the way an I-cord folds around, making for a tricky initiation into the world of kitchener stitch.

    I might advise you to practice the kitchener with two pieces of normal flat knitting. Just knit up two quick stockinette swatches, don’t bind them off and try grafting them together. The confidence and experience you get from that practice may be all you need to tackle the I-cord!

    Good luck!
    Whitney

  6. Elida Dillon says:

    Your step by step instructions for the kitchener stitch was extremely helpful to me while I was recently finishing a pair of socks.

  7. Abby says:

    This was really helpful! Thanks for all the great photos to go with it – it was like having a helpful friend there to guide me along. I used the kitchener stitch to finish off the Lovely Leaf Lace scarf which i made for my aunt and which turned out great – thanks for linking those instructions to this tutorial, too.

    I do have a question – I threaded on yarn that was about 5X the width of the scarf and still ran out before I reached the other side. Is there a handy ratio/way to tell how much yarn you will need for wider projects?

  8. Paul says:

    Thank you for the clearly illustrated and worded explanation of the Kitchener Stitch. We need a little memnonic to help remember the steps – if I can come up with a jaunty jingle I will be sure to share with you – until then, this is so well done – I am a new knitter and using this to finish my Turkiish Bed Socks. Thanks for the great photos and description of the technique. Paul :-}>

  9. Brennie says:

    Hooray! A depicted kitchener tutorial! Thanks so much for posting this, I've already used it many times :)
    I do have a question though; what if your project is ribbed? I'm working on a sweater and I'm supposed to work the kitchener stitch over a 1×1 ribbed neckline. Any tips? Better yet; any pictures?
    Thanks again!

  10. Kay says:

    Thank you for this VERY clear tutorial. It was better than all the videos available for me. My first Christmas stocking is now done. Only 8 more to go :-0

  11. Kathy says:

    The tutorial instructions seem very clear, and I've double checked with a few videos. However, I'm having a bit of trouble; to me, there's a fairly obvious seam once I've finished grafting. I used this stitch to graph the two sides a stockinette practice piece and the right side isn't bad, but along the wrong side there's a raised seam.
    Given that the stitch is described as being invisible, I'm guessing this is incorrect. Any suggestions?

  12. Sarah says:

    Just a quick question – are you grafting with what was your working yarn?

    Thanks for the great pictures and instructions.

  13. purl bee says:

    Hi Sarah-

    You are indeed grafting with the working yarn. Thanks for your question!

  14. Bronwen says:

    Thank you very much for this tutorial, the result is very attractive!

  15. Sheila says:

    I knit constantly but use this stitch only every now and then and can never quite remember how to do it. Your photos are the best and so easy to follow, thanks so much!

  16. prairiedale says:

    Thank you for making your tutorials printable. I used this tutorial to finish up my first lace project tonight!

  17. iris says:

    Hi! I just finished a scarf on regular knitting needles and I'd like to join the two ends to make an infinity/circle scarf. I was wondering if the kitchener stich was what I needed to do. If so, I understand I need the same amount of stitches on each needle…but does it mean I have to use my second needle and go through the stitches of the very first row of my scarf and then, start grafting with the very last row of my project? I'm confused and it wouldn't suprise me if I don't make any sense haha! If the kitchener stitch doesn't have anything to do with this, could you give me some advice on how I join the two ends? I've tried the sewing technique with the tapestry needle but I don't understand what to do after joining the ends. Am I supposed to cut the yarn and make a knot? Sorry for the long comment and thank you for your time!

  18. iris says:

    HI! You don't have to approve of this comment, I was just wondering when were you going to answer my latest question on this post? It has been approved already but there's no answer for it.

  19. purl bee says:

    Hi Iris-

    Someone should be answering your question this week. It can take a few days because of the volume of knitting questions we get.

    Thank you for your patience!

    Molly

  20. purl bee says:

    Hi Iris,

    The Kitchener Stitch requires two sets of “live” stitches. Since it sounds like you did a regular cast on, you only have one set of live stitches (provided you haven't bound off yet). In other words, it's too late for the Kitchener Stitch! In the future, if you know you're going to want to graft two ends of a scarf together, you should consider beginning with a Provisional Cast On (here's our tutorial: http://www.purlbee.com/provisional-cast-on-tutorial/).

    So, what to do with what you have? I would bind off and cut the tail quite long (2-3 feet). Then thread the tail onto a tapestry needle and use it to sew the two ends together. How you do that depends on your stitch pattern. For example, if you knit a 1 x 1 rib, the Finishing section of our Baby Bloomers pattern shows you how to neatly sew the two sides together: http://www.purlbee.com/baby-bloomers/ . You can also surmise from those instructions how to sew together stockinette or garter stitch.

    Please let me know if you have any more questions! Thanks you for these and good luck!

    Whitney

  21. iris says:

    Thank you very much for your detailed answer and so sorry for my impatience!

  22. iris says:

    I checked out the Baby Boomers pattern for a guideline on joining the two ends but I was wondering: Am I supposed to simply sew under the stitches until there is no more visible tail and just leave it there? Won't the tail move if I just sew it in without making any sort of knot at the end? I've taken so much of your time! Thank you again for reading

  23. purl bee says:

    Hi Iris,

    No problem! We're happy to answer every question you have until you get it right!

    It sounds like the next step for you will be our Weaving in Ends Tutorial (http://www.purlbee.com/weaving-in-ends-tutorial/2011/7/14/weaving-in-your-ends.html). You actually hardly ever tie a knot in knitting. Instead, you sew your ends into the finished piece as invisibly as possible. Believe it or not, this is neater and more secure than knots!

    Please let us know if you're still stuck… really!

    Whitney

  24. cynD says:

    I am now ready to do some socks so as to do this stich for real… the toes I have made in the past are not so great… a me-modified stich of sorts to close the toe.. I look forward to following these steps.

    THANK YOU!

  25. Shirley says:

    I thought I understood until I got to the last photograph where you said to insert the tapestry needly into the first stitch on the back needle but the photograph looks like you are putting it into both of the stitches where the red thread already is.

    did I miss something or can you help me out?

  26. purl bee says:

    Hi Shirley,

    I hope it helps to know that in Kitchener Stitch each stitch gets sewn twice: once when you keep the stitch on the needle and then again (two steps later) when you take the stitch off the needle.

    So, yes, the photo of Step 5 shows a stitch that already has the red yarn sewn through it because it is the second time that that stitch is getting sewn. Confusing, I know!

    I hope this helps sort the Kitchener out for you. Please let us know if you have any more questions!

    Thanks!
    Whitney

  27. Sally says:

    This is a fantastic tutorial, thank you x

  28. deirdre says:

    just love your site and tutorials. wonderful to receive these in Western Australia. thanks!

  29. Dorria says:

    Thanks for the great pictures and instructions.

  30. Mary says:

    I am completing the Snowdrift Mobius Cowl and am at the "Finishing". Is the Kitchener tutorial how I do the "stitch live stitches to CO row to make a continuous loop with one twist".?
    Thanks – love your site!!!
    Mary

  31. Lisa G says:

    Your tutorials are great! This was so helpful I'm actually *enjoying* Kitchener! But no matter how many times I do it there's always a little nub at the end after doing the last stitch. Could I be ending it wrong or is that normal?
    Thanks again for tutorials, and all your fabulous free patterns!

  32. purl bee says:

    Hi Lisa G.
    I'm so glad you found this tutorial helpful. That last stitch, it is always a bit tricky. The key is to use your working yarn to kind of tack it down or work into stitches beyond the live stitches (as you would if weaving in an end) to get your last stitch to not poke up.
    I hope that helps a bit. Long story short… it's normal.
    Let us know if you have any other questions.
    Laura

  33. Natasha says:

    Thanks for the tutorial. Enjoyed working on the lace leaf scarf.
    It was very helpful.

    Good job
    Thanks

  34. Carol Cowan says:

    I have a shoulder that was tapered in the last five rows or ten rows, where you cast off 5 stitches and then knit one row , then cast off 5 stitches,etc. So it was a tiered finish. When I did the Kitchener across the finish was not the same. Although I could see the stocking stitch there is a bump all the way across on both sides of the work. Is there a way to put the stitches back on the needle and/or work them differently?

  35. purl bee says:

    Hi Carol,
    Kitchener Stitch is typically done across live stitches, building a row of knit stitches, grafting the live stitches to one another. It sounds as though you did this technique across bound off stitches. While the idea of Kitchener Stitch can be applied to sewing together bound off edges, it will not create the same seamless join.

    Rather than binding off the shoulder stitches, you could work in short rows (working only a portion of the row) to create the tier and still maintaining live stitches which would take Kitchener better. Here is a link to our short row tutorial: http://www.purlbee.com/knitting-tutorials-advanced-te/2008/6/18/short-rows.html

    Please let us know if you have any other questions.
    Laura

  36. nancy says:

    Thank you so much for this picture tutorial. I didn't know what was meant by insert purl or knit wise. My project looks like you picture. Thank you again it was very helpful.

  37. Donna says:

    Someone mentioned a mnemonic…Here's what I use: front needle…Knit off, purl…back needle…purl off, knit. It's just a little chant I use while working kitchener. You just have to remember to do the set up for the first stitches.

  38. Elaine says:

    I just viewed your site for the 1st time. I don't have a question–yet–but I read through all the comments and was amazed at your friendly, patient answers, so concise. If I ever attempt Kitchner, I will be right back to your lesson. Thank you.

  39. Deb L. says:

    I’m at a loss for what to do if, when I put the right sides facing out, the working yarn is in the front (for the kitchener stitch, it should be in the back, I think…). Does anyone know how to graft in this situation? Believe me, any help or tips you can offer will be GREATLY appreciated. :) Thanks so much~~

    • Whitney from the Purl Bee says:

      Hi Deb L.,

      It’s okay if the yarn is coming from the front needle. In that case, I always do the preparation steps in the same way: insert the needle into the front stitch purlwise (it’s okay that the yarn is also coming from that stitch!), then into the back stitch knitwise. It’ll work out fine!

      Thanks for asking and please let us know if you have any other questions!

      Whitney

      • Nina Dilley says:

        Dear Whitney,

        Making the Coda sweater from Brooklyn Tweed, about to graft the arch cable, ended up with the working yarn positioned on the front needle. I searched for a few days and was stumped until now I found your answer to this dilemma. I can now move on. Thank you for your words of wisdom.

        Nina

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