Kitchener Stitch Tutorial

Kitchener stitch is one of those things that tends to make some knitters nervous.  No need to be nervous!!  If you’re really concerned that you will mess up, then put a lifeline in the row you will graft, or the row below.  That way you can always undo what you did and do it over again. 🙂

Most Kitchener stitch tutorials assume that you have stockinette to graft, and that is the most common occurrence – sock toes especially.  So they give instructions to ‘Knit on, purl off.  Purl on, knit off.”  But what if you have something other than stockinette?  That won’t work if you have a rib, or some combination of knits and purls instead of plain stockinette.  I ran into that situation a while ago – I wanted to graft a hood on a sweater, and it had cables on the sides, with purls framing the cables, and stockinette on the rest of the hood.  I researched, and came across a different set of instructions : “Same off, Opposite on.”  Now, I always use this ‘mantra’, if you will, to work my Kitchener stitch.  And I know no matter what stitch pattern I have I will be able to graft it using this.

(One caveat:  If your grafting row needs to look different from the work below, then this will not work.  For example,  seed stitch – where every row is different from the other.  This would produce a row identical to the row below, NOT maintaining the seed stitch across the graft.  Keep that in mind.)

Kitchener stitch is just a fancy name for a sewn graft.  You are essentially working a row of duplicate stitch between two opposing live rows.  It gets a bit confusing and intimidating because instead of the work flat in front of you, you have half the knitting (the right side) in the front,  and half the knitting (the wrong side) in the back.

Until you get more confident (and even once you’re pretty good at it!) I suggest locking yourself away in a quiet room with no distractions to work Kitchener stitch, and DO NOT stop in the middle, or you may lose your place!

Cut your working yarn a good 3-4 times longer than you think you need.  Then thread it on a tapestry needle.

I will start with some photos showing the steps, and at the end of this post I will have two videos showing the process.  (You can skip down to the videos first if you’d like!) 🙂

Knitting ready to graft:

Ready to graft

Working yarn threaded on needle and ready to go (shown in contrast yarn.):

Working yarn coming from front needle. (Green yarn here.)

In this case my yarn is coming from the front needle.  When you’re knitting in the round, your yarn will be coming from the back needle instead.  Doesn’t matter!  Just start with the front needle instead of the back needle.

The first step is to work an “Opposite On” stitch on the needle that does NOT have the working yarn.

Setup step one – “Opposite On”. I’m showing the needle above the front knitting needle for clarity in the photo -DON’T do that yourself- keep the tapestry needle UNDER the front knitting needle.

In this case the stitch is a purl, so put the needle into the stitch as if to knit and leave the stitch on the knitting needle.

Now we need to work an “Opposite On” on the front needle.

Setup step two – another “Opposite On”

This is a knit stitch, so put the tapestry needle through the stitch as if to purl.

Pull the yarn through, but do not pull it tight.  We will fix the tension after everything is done.  BE SURE to keep the working thread UNDER the knitting needles.  This is very important.  If you don’t you will have a big mess.

Now we’re ready to start working the stitches off the needle.  We last did the front needle, so move to the back needle and begin working the pair of instructions : “Same Off, Opposite On”.

“Same Off”

Our back stitch is a purl, so to “Same Off”  purl this stitch and pull it off the needle.  Before you do anything else, work an “Opposite On”:  knit the next stitch (because it is a purl) and leave it on the needle.

“Opposite On”. (Again, note that I have the needle ABOVE the knitting needle – DON’T DO THAT – keep your needle under the front knitting needle. I did it this way for clarity in the photo, and wasn’t thinking about the consequences. Oops!)

Now pull your working yarn through, but not too tight.

Move to the front needle, and repeat the process, this time with your knit stitches.

First, “Same Off” – so knit the stitch and pull it off the needle.

“Same Off”

Now “Opposite On”, so purl the next stitch and leave it on the needle.

“Opposite On”

Pull your yarn through, but not too tight.

Looks sloppy, but we’ll fix it later.

You’ll continue across until you get to your last stitch on each needle.  You will work the “Same Off” step on each needle, but not the “on” step (since you have no more stitches on the needle!). You’re almost done!

Now, we need to fix the tension across the row so it looks neat.  Starting at the end where you started grafting, pull each individual stitch, one side at a time, until you get a stitch that matches the tension in the rest of the knitting.  Slowly work your way across the row until you get to the end.  Weave in your ends and you’re done!

Halfway done fixing the tension.


All done!

Now, for something other than stockinette stitch, you do the EXACT SAME steps!  As long as you pay attention to what kind of stitch is currently facing you, and remember to work “Same Off” or “Opposite On”, then you can graft any combination of knits and purls!  Here is a knit and purl rib piece after grafting:

K4, P2 rib grafted.

If you’re still confused, I made a couple of videos that might make it more clear.  I walk you through grafting stockinette stitch, and then grafting the rib in the photo above.

(I apologize – the second video is a bit blurry in spots, but hopefully you can see well enough to see what I’m doing!)

Another thing to keep in mind is that grafting always offsets the two knitted pieces by a half stitch.  This is because you have the tops of the knits facing each other, and you have to carry a column of knit stitches up into the space between two upside down knits on the opposite piece.  If you look closely at the rib photo above, you can see what I mean.  Try to graft in an inconspicuous place if you have a pattern other than stockinette- if the offset bothers you.  Most people won’t notice it, however. 🙂

I hope this was helpful!  Let me know if anything is still unclear, and feel free to add your questions or comments below!

Happy Knitting!


Closing the heel gap in socks

Here is my favorite way to ‘close the gap’ between the instep and the gusset on heel flap socks.

I’ve tried several ways to close that little gap, and this is the one I’ve settled on as my favorite because, of the methods I’ve tried, it blends in the best. My previous favorite method was to pick up a stitch from in between the gap – using one side of each stitch in the row below and knitting them together. The problem with this method was that it left an obvious twisted stitch right there at the join. It closed the gap great, but I cringe at the twisted stitch!

This method blends in so much better, while still closing that gap really well.

So, here’s how I do it!

Here’s a heel flap, ready to have the gusset stitches picked up on the one side:

Hell Flap ready to have gusset stitches picked up

I’m going to knit into the very first heel flap stitch, and essentially do a lifted increase in that stitch. Here’s the stitch:

The strand/stitch to be knitted into

And one more angle showing the stitch I’m talking about:

Another angle showing the strand/stitch to be knitted into

We’re working on the left side of the heel flap, after we’ve knit our instep stitches. The easiest way to work on this side is to use your working needle to lift up the stitch and then knit into it – like so:

Picking up the stitch with the working needle
The finished stitch.

You’re now ready to pick up the gusset stitches.

This showed you the left side, but what about the right?  When you are picking up the stitch on the right side, prior to working your instep stitches, it’s easiest to pick up the stitch using a spare needle, and then knitting into it. But remember to pick up the stitch at the base of the heel flap – not an instep stitch.

(Here’s why the heel stitch works so much better than the instep stitch – when you pick up the stitch from the heel, you are replacing the stitch column that will get eaten up when you pick up your gusset stitches.  This allows the extra stitch to blend in.  If you picked up a stitch from the instep, it would still blend in to a degree, but not as well.)

Here is what the gusset area looks like when it’s done:

The gusset area afterwards.

This sample has no gusset decreases worked, so keep that in mind.

Here is a finished sock that I used this method on:

Gusset area on finished socks using this technique

Notice how it blends in really well!!

So, that’s how I close the dreaded gap! 🙂

Happy Knitting!!

Master Knitter Posts, Techniques

Steek Sandwich

Sounds yummy, right? 😉

In actuality it is a method of dealing with steeks which hides the steek inside a few rows of knitting.  Stitches are picked up through the fabric on the right side, and then stitches are picked up from the loops on the wrong side, and a few rows of knitting are worked on both sides, completely enclosing the steek.  The two flaps are then knit together, and the rest of the buttonband (or whatever) is finished.

Here is a much more in depth post on the method, and is the reference I used in my researching.  Kate Davies’ series on steeks is excellent – my post today will be a very quick overview on how I did my steek sandwich, so go to her website if you want more details!

Here’s how I did my steek sandwiches.  My gauge worked out perfectly to allow me to pick up stitches at every row on the buttonbands.  Be sure you check your gauges, though – yours might not work out like that.  You’ll adjust the number of rows you pick up depending on your gauge ratio.  (If you don’t know what I mean by that – that’s a lesson for another blog post!)

Stitches picked up on every row – exactly between the steek stitches and the pattern stitches.

You have to be sure to pick the yarn up from behind the work, and through to the front, so that the working yarn carries across the back.  This is what forms the loops you’ll use to pick up stitches on the back.  It also reinforces the steek edge even more, since it locks all your floats!

Then, using a second circular needle, you turn your work and pick up each loop on the back and knit into it.  (Pull the yarn snug when working the first one.) This can be tricky, because the loops are pretty tight.  (You could help this by using a larger needle for picking up the front stitches, and then switching to the smaller needles for the rest of the buttonband, but I didn’t do that with my sweater.)  I used a dpn to gently lift each loop, and then my working needle to knit into it. You must pick up one extra stitch on the back to have your stitch counts the same on both sides.

(Also – I did my steek sandwiches slightly different from how Kate Davies showed. I didn’t want to have to seam the sides of my ‘sandwich’, so I worked my sandwich like a giant tube – knitting first the front and then carrying the yarn to the back, snugly, and then knitting the back. As opposed to knitting all the rows on the front first and then knitting the rows on the back.)

Loops on back, each one picked up and knit.

I worked four more rows total, front and back – ending with the wrong side completed. Now, you have two circular needles – one with the front stitches and one with the back stitches.

Front and back knit together.

You will use your front circular needle, and knit the front and the back stitches together across the row (as though you were doing a three needle bind off – but without the binding off.) That finishes the sandwich!

Front and back knit together (back/wrong side view) See how the steek is hidden – doesn’t that look nice??

Then you finish off the buttonband however you wish – I did corrugated ribbing for my sweater, but you could do an i-cord, or some other edge for the finishing.

I forgot to take a close up shot of the finished band – this picture will have to do! So here’s how the band looks when complete.

So that’s how I did my steek sandwiches for my sweater! It adds a bit of bulk to the edge, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing at the buttonbands, where you want some stability.

I hope this was informative! Happy Knitting!!

(Oh – and PS: my box arrived safely in Ohio today! That’s one less thing for me to worry about! I’ll try to patiently wait for it to come back to me…) 😉

Master Knitter Posts, Techniques, WiP Posts

Cutting the Steek

And here is the video I promised you! 🙂

Master Knitter Posts, Techniques, WiP Posts

Preparing to Steek

I promised my guild that I would videotape my cutting the steeks for my sweater, so I figured to be thorough I’d do a whole post on the process. 🙂  Stay tuned for the actual video – this post will walk you through leading up to the actual cutting.

Just FYI – this is a picture heavy post!

For those that don’t already know, a steek is a section of knitting that you are planning on cutting in your knitting.  You will use steeks when knitting things that are easier to knit in the round.  Fair Isle (and stranded) knitting is very often knit in the round (it doesn’t have to be, though!) – so steeks are commonly used in those types of knitting.  Why do you need to cut?  Well, if you want a cardigan you have to have an opening in the front.  You’ll need openings for the sleeves as well.  And if you want a v-neck or scoop neck, you’ll need a neckline opening, too.   These are all places you can use steeks.  You’ll essentially knit a large tube for the body of your sweater, and then cut it open for the front, and cut open the armholes and the neckline.

I don’t usually reinforce my steeks – they don’t typically need it if you’re using a ‘sticky’ wool, and if you make an intrinsically sturdy steek of about 8 or more stitches wide and a checkerboard pattern.  For this sweater, however, I used a very narrow steek of just 3 stitches on each side, and I used a stripe pattern.  The reason for this is because I’m going to use a ‘sandwich’ technique when I pick up the stitches for the buttonband and the collar.  (I’ll post about that when I get to that part of the sweater, too.)  This technique requires the steek to be very narrow, since the steek will end up hidden inside a row of knitting.  Because of this, I decided to reinforce all my steeks just to be extra sure they aren’t going anywhere. 🙂

Also, my steeks are all left with live stitches at the top, on holders – they need to be kept separate from the body of knitting, so I did not bind them off when the other stitches were bound off.

To reinforce, you need a small crochet hook and some yarn (I used the dark green color I’m going to be using on the buttonband.)  Place a slip knot on the crochet hook, and insert your hook directly above the cast on edge of the steek – two stitches in from the center of the steek.

Steek ready to be reinforced. (it’s upside down -the cast on edge is shown at top.)
Crochet hook inserted below cast on edge.
Slip stitch *over* the cast on edge to secure it.

I’m working on the left side of the steek here, so the hook goes in from the left to the center- under the right leg of the second stitch from the center, and the left leg of the stitch directly in from the center (I have 3 stitches on each side of the center in this steek.)

Crochet hook inserted into the two legs of the stitches to be secured.

Yarnover the hook, and pull through all three loops on the hook to make a slip stitch.

Yarnover the hook…
Pull through all three loops.

Repeat in this manner up the steek – getting every single row secured.

Next row…
And so on…

When you get to the top, the steek stitches are on a holder. Take the left three steek stitches and place them all on the hook.

Three steek stitches on yarn holder.
Hook placed through the three live stitches.
Yarnover the hook and pull through all 4 loops on the hook…

Then yarnover once more and pull all the way through. Cut your yarn.

Final steek reinforcement on one side.

You need to repeat this process on the other side – but you need to work in towards the center from the right. So you’ll start with the live stitches at the top.

Three live stitches at right top of steek.
Place slip knot on hook, and put hook through the three stitches.
Yarnover the hook and pull through all 4 loops on hook.

You will then be securing the left leg of the second stitch from the center and the right leg of the stitch to the right of center.

Insert hook in two legs to be secured…

Yarnover the hook and pull through all 3 loops on hook. Continue down the steek.

Hook inserted in next row.

Continue all the way down, ending by slip stitching over the cast on edge to secure it. Yarnover once more and pull all the way through. Cut your yarn.

Top of steek when finished.

You are now ready to cut!!

DSC08323details copy
Cutting line – you must be sure to NOT cut your crochet reinforcement.

Stay tuned for my steeking video – I should be posting it soon!

I’m blocking my sweater today, so hopefully I’ll be able to start the finishing in a day or two! I’m nearing the finish line….