How to do Kitchener stitch - with or without a darning needle

Published on October 16, 2014 3 min read

Graft sock toes, finish a hat or lengthen a scarf. Elizabeth Bagwell talks you through Kitchener stitch, a really handy invisible, seamless join.

Kitchener stitch is also called grafting, and is a way of creating an invisible, seamless join between two pieces of knitting. It’s most commonly used for sock toes, but has dozens of other applications.

In its simplest form, Kitchener is used to join two sets of live stitches (i.e. stitches that are still on the needle and not cast off). Each set should have the same number of stitches. Line the two sets up on separate needles, with the trailing thread (if there is one) at the back on the right. Now, cut a long tail of yarn: at least 1cm per stitch, more for yarns thicker than DK. At each step, pull the tail all the way through – do not create any more loops / live stitches!

It’s better to have too much of a yarn tail than not enough!" - Elizabeth Bagwell

How to do Kitchener with a darning needle


Thread the darning needle.

Set up: Working from right to left across the stitches, bring the darning needle through the first stitch on the front knitting needle from right to left, as you would put a knitting needle if you were about to purl.

Go through the first stitch on the back knitting needle from left to right, as you would put a knitting needle if you were about to knit.

Pull through in each case.

Now repeat the following until you have run out of stitches:

Knit and off, purl
Purl and off, knit

This means:
Put the darning needle through the first stitch on the front needle as though to knit, and slide the stitch off the needle. Put the darning needle through the second stitch on the front needle as though to purl, but do not slide it off.

Put the darning needle through the first stitch on the back needle as though to purl, and slide the stitch off the needle. Put the darning needle through the second stitch on the back needle as though to knit, but do not slide it off.

How to do Kitchener without a darning needle


You won’t need a darning needle, but you will need a third knitting needle, crochet hook or something else to hook the yarn through with. The process is the same as for darning with a darning needle, but as you’re hooking the yarn back through (like you do when knitting) rather than pushing a needle through (as with a darning needle) the steps appear reversed.

Set up: Knit the first stitch on the front needle, don’t slide the stitch off the needle.

Pull the yarn tail all the way through the stitch (always pull the yarn tail all the way through while grafting).

Purl the first stitch on the back needle, don’t slide it off.

Then:
Purl and off, knit
Knit and off, purl

This means:
Purl the first stitch on the front needle, and slide the stitch off. Knit second stitch on the front needle, but do not slide it off.

Knit the first stitch on back needle, and slide the stitch off. Purl the second stitch on the back needle, but do not slide it off.

The history of Kitchener stitch

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