An easy way to remember the Kitchener stitch

With the help of these 4 very simple rules you’ll easily remember the steps for the Kitchener stitch. In addition to stockinette, these rules apply for any knit and purl stitch combination such as 2 by 2 ribbing or seed stitch. With Kitchener stitch, you can create an invisible seam and it can be used for instance to close a toe of a sock or graft the ends of a headband together.

1. The stitches are worked in pairs

You first work two stitches from the front needle, two stitches from the back needle, two stitches from the front needle and so on as long as you have worked all the stitches.

2. The first stitch sets the direction

If the first stitch of the pair is a knit stitch, you’ll go through it knitwise. If the first stitch of the pair is a purl stitch you go through it purlwise.

3. The first stitch of the pair is dropped

After working the first stitch of the pair you’ll always drop the stitch. The second stitch always stays on the needle.

4. If the stitches are the same the directions are different and vice versa.

If the stitches are the same the directions are different. If the stitches are different the directions are the same.

If the stitch pair you are going to work next are two knit stitches, you go through the second stitch purlwise because the stitches of the pair are the same type. Similarly, in case of two purl stitches next to each other you go through the second stitch knitwise.

If the first one is a knit stitch and the second one is a purl stitch you’ll go through both stitches knitwise. Similarly, if the first stitch is a purl stitch and the second stitch is a knit stitch you’ll go through both stitches purlwise.

Setup round

I usually on do the setup round if I graft flat. You can remember the setup round by imagining that next to the first stitch on the front needle was a knit stitch you already worked knitwise and dropped so you go the first stitch on the front needle purlwise. Similarly you imagine that next to the first stitch on the back needle was a purl stitch you already worked and you go through the first stitch on the back needle knitwise.

If I’m closing the toe of a sock I usually skip the setup round because that way the end result is in my opinion much neater and there are no “ears” at the beginning.

Checkout from my Youtube channel a step by step guide for following these rules and drop a comment below if you think these rules helped you to memorize the Kitchener stitch.

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6 Responses

  1. Kathy says:

    This info is great. TY. I saved the link.

  2. Doris says:

    When do you use this stitch and why.

    • knitgrammer says:

      The Kitchener stitch can be used to create an invisible seam. This technique is used for instance to close the toe of a sock or sometimes if you have to cut your knitting to fix a mistake you can then seam the pieces together with the Kitchener stitch and the knit looks like it has never been cut.

  3. Sue says:

    Do you do the set-up stitch? (Which is actually just working the second half of a “pair” before you begin.) I once had a discussion with a knitting instructor at Stitches West who insisted the set-up is required, but I find it works fine without it. Interested in your thoughts. Thanks for this very clear posting.

    • knitgrammer says:

      Hi Sue!
      I do setup only if I graft flat but if I work in the round I skip it because I find the end result is much neater that way (no ears). Thanks for dropping by and leaving a comment. I think I’ll write a paragraph about the setup round to this post to make it a bit more helpful. -Ida

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