As I promised last week, I dug to the bottom of my knitting basket at the weekend in search of UFOs. I was delighted to find only the one UFO I already knew was there; a pair of socks, one sock waiting for an afterthought heel, the other in need of a spot of Kitchener stitch to close the toe.
Having vowed to rid myself of UFOs for the year, I took out my tapestry needle to Kitchener stitch the toe closed, when it occurred to me, I could take some pictures and write a Kitchener stitch tutorial. Hopefully some of you will find it useful and hopefully it will divert all of you from noticing the afterthought heel is still unfinished.
Kitchener stitch is one of those techniques that, for the uninitiated, is often shrouded in fear and mystery. However, whilst it’s true you do need to concentrate and it’s easy to loose your place if you get distracted, like most knitting techniques we fear, it’s really not the monster under the bed it’s cracked up to be. You just need to follow these three simple rules:
- Don’t attempt your first shot at Kitchener stitch unless you have sufficient time to work on it.
- Don’t attempt your first shot at Kitchener stitch when/where you’re likely to get interrupted.
- Don’t have a glass of wine beforehand to steady your nerves.
If you already know how to Kitchener stitch, skip to the end. If you don’t, here’s the tutorial. I’m assuming you’re sewing a sock toe here – since that’s where it’s most commonly used. But wherever you use it,the principle’s pretty much the same.
How to Sew Kitchener Stitch
1. Arrange the stitches belonging to the top of the foot onto one needle and the stitches belonging to the bottom onto another. (You may already have them arranged in this way, if you’re using the magic loop technique or tiny circular sock needles.) Cut the working yarn, leaving enough length to knit about two more rounds, and thread it onto a tapestry needle.
2. Hold the two rows of stitches together with the knitting facing you, as if you’re going to knit another round.
3. Insert the tapestry needle into the first stitch as if it were a knitting needle and you were going to purl the stitch…
4. Pull the yarn through the stitch, but leave the stitch on the knitting needle.
5. Thread the tapestry needle through the first stitch on the knitting needle at the back from below the stitch i.e. from the direction you would enter it with the a knitting needle if you were knitting the stitch…
6. Pull the yarn through the stitch, but leave the stitch on the knitting needle.
You’re now ready to get going on the repeated pattern of stitching…
7. Insert the tapestry needle into the first stitch on the front knitting needle from below – i.e. in a knit-wise direction…
8. Pull the yarn right through the stitch and slip the stitch off the knitting needle.
9. Insert the tapestry needle into the next stitch on the front knitting needle as if you were going to purl it…
10. Pull the yarn right through the stitch, but don’t slip the stitch off the knitting needle.
11. Insert the tapestry needle into the first stitch on the knitting needle at the back as if you were going to purl it…
12. Pull the yarn right through the stitch and slip the stitch off the knitting needle.
13. Insert the tapestry needle through the next stitch on the back knitting needle from below – i.e. in a knit-wise direction…
14. Pull the yarn right through the stitch, but don’t slip it off the needle.
Repeat steps 7 to 14, gently tightening or loosening the stitched you make as you go, so the Kitchener stitch forms an invisible join between the two sets of stitches.
When you have worked and all the stitches, you will have closed the gap between the two rows of knitting…
Push the tapestry needle to the wrong side of the work and secure the loose end – you may wish to use this end to close any holes in your Kitchener stitch if your join is not quite invisible.
Once you’ve initially set up the first two stitches you follow a repeated pattern of..
- Stitch 1 front – Knit, slip stitch of needle
- Stitch 2 front – Purl
- Stitch 1 back – Purl, slip stitch of needle
- Stitch 2 back – Knit
Does anyone else who’s already comfy with Kitchener stitch have any tips or advice to those who are a little apprehensive about trying it?