Friday, February 14, 2014

Demystifying the Kitchener Stitch

Does the Kitchener stitch scare you?  Are you frustrated because you can never remember how to do the Kitchener stitch?  Do you feel the need to sit quietly and alone in order to concentrate on the Kitchener stitch?  Do you avoid projects because they end with the Kitchener stitch?

If so, then this post is for you.  The Kitchener stitch is not hard.  It is not complicated. There's been a lot of hype to make it seem hard, impossible, and something to be dreaded.  I decided to revamp my tutorial on the Kitchener stitch because of a few comments recently about how hard and impossible the stitch is and the fear that arose after googling for tutorials.

I've been teaching a few members of my local knitting group how to knit socks two at a time on one circular needle.  This is the best way to make socks in my humble opinion because there is no second sock syndrome and no note taking or scrutinizing the first sock to see how many rows you did before the heel turn or making sure they match.

I began with cuff down socks, a heel flap, turn, and gusset and finishing the toe decreases with the Kitchener stitch.  I really don't understand the mystic behind the Kitchener or the fear.  It is not difficult.  It does not require absolute silence and a glass of wine as some tutorials out there claim.  It is simple.  Requiring only an equal number of stitches on two needles, yarn and a needle.  The process is simple and the same every time. Each stitch has to be "set up" before it is worked.  If you remember that, then you are halfway there.

Simple formula:

  •            Two needles-equal number of stitches, yarn tail attached to back needle on the right side
  •            Set up each stitch- front needle pull yarn through purlwise/ back needle pull yarn       through knitwise
  •            Start with the front needle-knit the first stitch on the front needle and pull off, pull yarn  through second stitch purlwise
  •            Back needle- purl the first stitch and pull off, pull yarn through the second stitch knitwise
  •            Repeat until all stitches have been worked.  Weave in the ends.

The first thing you need to do is relax and forget about the fear, threats, and tears that others have warned you about.

Start off by having an equal number of stitches on two needles.  If you have one extra stitch don't fret.  We'll wing it.  No need to knit another row or tear out to take care of one itty bitty stitch.

So equal number of stitches, two needles and try to have the yarn end (attached to the ball) be on the back row.  (If I am holding the needles in front of me, the back needle has the yarn still attached to the ball.)  Cut the yarn, leaving enough yarn to finish the Kitchener (about a foot or so for socks-but a good rule of thumb is double the length of whatever you are grafting).  Nothing too terrifying yet and we're all still alive.  The needle closest to you (not the one with the yarn end) is going to be your knit needle.  The back needle is your purl needle.

Each needle will be worked in order.  Two stitches will be worked for each needle before moving on to the next.  The second stitch worked is being set up for the next round.  But to start you need to set up those first stitches on both needles.

Front needle- take the yarn that is attached to the back and thread it through a yarn needle.  Using the yarn needle go through the first stitch on the front needle as if you are purling.  

Pull yarn through but LEAVE the stitch on the needle. 

 Back needle-go through the first stitch as if you are knitting, pull the yarn through but LEAVE the stitch on the needle.  (****Be careful not to add an extra stitch on your front needle when you are working the back needle stitches.)

Now you are ready to begin.

Front needle- Using the yarn needle knit the first stitch on the front needle and slid the stitch off.  Pull firmly and then on the Front needle go through the second stitch (now the first) as if you are purling but leave the stitch on the needle.

(Knitting first stitch and pulling off the stitch)

Going through the second stitch as if to purl-stitch stays on the needle

Purling and removing the first stitch before taking the yarn through the second 
stitch of the back needle as if to knit.

Continue working all stitches, remembering to set up the next stitch on 
each needle before moving to the next needle.


In this picture you can see that I am going through the first stitch on the front needle as if to knit.  You can also see how the toe is beginning to close.

When you get to the last stitch of the back row you work it the same way 
and pull the yarn completely through leaving you with a closed off sock 
and sometimes a little loop (see picture to the left).


I thread the needle back onto the tail and pull the loop through to the inside of the sock.  While weaving in the end I tack down the loop.  It's never been a problem and doesn't come loose in the wash if you make sure to weave in your ends properly.

If you end up with an uneven number of stitches when dividing for the Kitchener stitch, go ahead and follow the same plan.  Just put the extra stitch on the front needle so you can set it up before casting it off.

Tada-Finished sock.

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