Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Magic of Knitting: Why the Kitchener Stitch Works

There are some things in the universe that I'm just glad they work but don't understand why. Gravity, for instance. I'm just relieved it holds me to the planet everyday, all day. For a long time there were many things with knitting that were the same way. I didn't understand why something worked; I was just glad that it did and looked pretty all at the same time. The Kitchener Stitch was one of those magical elements of knitting for me. It made the toes of my hand-knit socks comfortable to wear and looked neat and tidy. As I was kitchenering the toe of a sock I knit for my husband the other day I began to wonder why it works the way it does. Off to Google I went and here is what I found.

1. The Kitchener Stitch (KS) is a method of grafting two equal sets of live stitches together without a seam.

2. The KS is named after Lord Kitchener, the British Secretary of State for War during World War I. He supposedly invented the finishing technique because the socks with toe seams his troops were wearing were rubbing their feet raw.

But why does it work? By doing the KS you are essentially adding a row to your knitting – in pattern – with a tapestry needle instead of using knitting needles. To graft them invisibly you will either knit or purl the stitch off the needle, depending on what stitch needs to show on the Right Side of the work. By doing this you'll join the two pieces together without a seam and stay in pattern!

What magical elements of knitting did you just accept but now understand on a deeper level?


  1. I think it would be the Kitchener stitch as well - but I remember the realization that knitting in the round is just one be spiral - hence stripes are always off a notch. Great post - thanks!!

  2. I have no idea how a cast-on works...specifically a long-tail CO. I have no idea which piece of yarn (the one over your finger or the one over your thumb) makes up what part of that first row...I just do it and believe ;)