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Jessica Joy

Knitwear designer and writer

Kitchener stitch is an invisible way to graft two sets of live stitches together. It’s used to close the toes of socks, the tips of mittens, and anywhere that you’d like your seams to look uninterrupted. You’ve probably seen kitchener stitch used to graft stocking stitch together, so it might come as a surprise to see it used with garter stitch, but it’s entirely possible. The trick is to work out the orientation of the stitches, and then the correct combination of movements with the needle. Let’s look at how it works on my Jersey Basket pattern:

Tutorial: Kitchener Stitch for Garter Stitch

To begin Kitchener stitch you will have an equal number of live stitches on each needle, positioned with wrong sides facing. In this example the front needle has purl bumps directly underneath the stitches on the right side, and the back needle has knit stitches directly underneath the needle on it’s right side (the outside).

Cut the yarn from the ball leaving a tail roughly three times the length of piece you’re grafting. It doesn’t matter if the yarn is coming from the back needle, or the front. Thread this onto a darning needle and secure the yarn by passing it purl wise through the first stitch on the front needle, and then purl wise through the first stitch on the back needle. You’re now ready to start grafting!

1. Insert the needle knit wise into the first stitch on the front needle.

Tutorial: Kitchener Stitch for Garter Stitch

Pull the length of yarn through the stitch and then let it drop off the end of the needle.

Tutorial: Kitchener Stitch for Garter Stitch

2. Then pass the darning needle purl wise through the second stitch and leave it on the needle.

Tutorial: Kitchener Stitch for Garter Stitch

3. Repeat the same two steps on the back needle. Insert the darning needle knit wise into the first stitch.

Tutorial: Kitchener Stitch for Garter Stitch

Slip it off the end of the needle.

Tutorial: Kitchener Stitch for Garter Stitch

4. Insert the darning needle purl wise into the second stitch on the back needle, and leave it where it is.

Repeat this 4 step sequence to the end of the needle. It may help you to remember the sequence in shorthand, for instance: knit, off, purl – knit, off, purl, remembering to work two stitches from each needle at a time.

Reversed Garter Stitch

Now, if the orientation of your stitches is reversed, so there are knit stitches on the right side of the front needle, and purl bumps on the right side of the back needle, you will need to reverse the sequence: pass the needle knit wise through the first stitch on the front needle, and knit wise through the first stitch on the back needle to set up. Then work: purl, off, knit – purl, off, knit, as the four sequence graft.

Seamless knits are my favourite, so this technique is a great one to have in your knitting arsenal if you dislike seaming as much as I do – happy grafting, folks!

P.S Try out the technique now with my new Jersey Basket Pattern.

9 comments
  1. jenn 22 September 2015, 10:22 pm

    Thanks so much for this tutorial! It is very helpful and is much appreciated!

  2. Chrissie 19 October 2015, 12:32 pm

    Thank you for a great tutorial, the best one I found!

  3. Dawn 25 January 2016, 4:46 pm

    many thanks for this – very much appreciated when I’d been brain fogged enough to make a blanket strip 4 rows too long.

  4. Liz 28 March 2016, 12:19 am

    Excellent tutorial! Thanks for this, it’s really simple when you know how :-) and now I do know how.

  5. Sheila 16 November 2016, 3:50 pm

    Thanks so much for this, very clearly explained and a godsend! Shoulder seams look so much neater and no video to rush me through it!

  6. Christine Donaldson 16 March 2017, 4:47 pm

    Thanks for this – it’s very helpful. I think I am going wrong on the provisional cast on method for your jersey basket. I’m using a knitting needle and a crochet hook but the seam doesn’t sit well on the finished basket. How do you do your provisional cast on? Thank you.

  7. Mo Hand 20 May 2017, 3:34 pm

    Wow brilliant explanation of the kitchener method able to perform it straight away Thank you

  8. Marguerite 20 May 2017, 6:02 pm

    I don’t get it at all. I have read and reread your instructions along with others that say the very same thing about the knit stitches and the purl bumps. I end up with four rows on the inside that look al knit stockinette, and the outside looks like reverse stockinette. What am I doing wrong? I have tried this so many times, my yarn is getting frayed. Please help!

    • Jess 22 May 2017, 9:32 am

      Hi Marguerite, the orientation of the stitches is really important for this method. Whether there are purl bumps or knit stitches directly under the needle depends on which row you finish on. Finishing on a wrong side row (in garter stitch) will give you purl bumps directly under the needle, and finishing on a right side row will give you knit stitches directly under the needle, so you may need to re-arrange the stitches on your needle to set this up. Feel free to pop me an email using the ‘say hi’ page if you’d like to talk it through in more detail! Best wishes, Jess

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