What is a kitchener stitch for?
Who doesn’t love warm woolen mittens, especially when they’re made by hand? Okay, maybe you’re picturing something really amazing, or maybe all you can think of are those weirdly-shaped felted old things you find once a year in your bag of winter gear. (Just me?)
I don’t have a mitten pattern for you just yet, but I was making a quick pair for my son when someone in my community requested a tutorial for the kitchener stitch. Perfect timing!
The kitchener stitch is a grafting technique that’s used most often for creating a seamless finish on sock toes and the ends of mittens. (The first time I used it, it was to bind off a 1x1 ribbing on a sweater. It created a fantastic finish but Jenny’s Super Stretchy has since taken the place in my heart for that purpose.)
When you see the directions listed out, it might look a little bit intimidating, but I promise you’ll get the hang of it in no time. Watch the video or keep reading, and it will all make sense.
Start with an equal number of stitches on 2 knitting needles.
I’m using double-pointed needles here, but straight or circular will work fine too. Cut the yarn length to about 4 times the width of the area you’re grafting. Thread it onto a tapestry or darning needle.
1. P front leave it on.
Which means: Insert the threaded needle purl-wise through the first stitch on the front needle but don’t slip it off.
2. K back leave it on.
Thread your needle knit-wise through the first stitch on the back needle, leaving it on.
3. K front take it off.
Now thread it through the front stitch again, this time knit-wise and slipping it off.
4. Repeat step 1.
5. P back take it off.
Thread the needle through the back stitch purl-wise and slip it off.
6. Repeat step 2.
Then repeat steps 3-6 until you have just one stitch left on each needle. Then it’s just steps 3 and 5. And you’re done! Thread the tail to the inside of your work, turn inside-out, weave it it and trim. Voila!
My memory trick:
I have a super easy way to remember what I’m supposed to do for each one. I simply think of the front needle as a knit needle and the back one as a purl needle. Then I tell myself that in order to remove a stitch from the needle, I need to be doing it ‘correctly.’ In other words, knit on a knit needle and purl on a purl needle. When I’m doing it backwards, it’s just a reinforcement. Does that make sense to anyone besides me?
Next time you see the kitchener stitch mentioned in a pattern you want to knit, don’t let it scare you off! Just get out your darning needle, open my video, and give it a go! Don’t forget to show me your results! Tag me @becca.j.norman on Instagram and to let me know how you used it.