As a matter of graft, I do know how
Tuesday September 01st 2009, 8:45 pm
Filed under: "Wrapped in Comfort",Knit

Second Sock Syndrome: a good excuse for avoiding sitting down and re-teaching myself (for the umpteenth time) how to do kitchener stitch. (To the non-knitters, that’s the method of grafting the toe stitches together on a well-made pair of socks.)  Rather, dive right on into that second sock, quick!, before you lose your momentum.

STR Sock Gate socksYou know, I reverse-engineered the flower for my Zinnia Scarf so that the coming and going sides would look pretty much the same, even though they would look exactly the same if one were to knit the thing in two pieces and kitchener the middle.

Which is how I originally wrote and made it.

But I didn’t want people to have unfinished scarf halves sitting in their closets…

It’s been six years since I finished a pair of socks, not to mention eight since I started that last pair.  My fingers know how to do that final step: it’s just when my brain butts in and starts asking questions that they throw up their hands and stop.

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Every time I graft a toe I have to look up kitchener stitch again. It just won’t stick. (Also, why is it called “kitchener” stitch, anyway? Makes me think of The Wind in the Willows . . . “Is it the king or the Kitchener? No, it’s Mr. Toad!”)

Comment by Lanafactrix 09.01.09 @ 9:11 pm

That’s part of why I do my socks toe-up! I have to look up the directions, sit somewhere without distractions and talk myself through it. I try to time it so that no one is in the house…

Comment by Kathy in San Jose 09.01.09 @ 9:42 pm

Kitchener stitch ahh, yes I have to sit down with my instructions and figure it again too.

Named after Lord Kitchener, a British military man (poster of him pointing his finger, so it is closest to you, with his moustached face, with the words “You’re country needs you” fame)who thought that his soldiers should have comfort with the socks that they wore (handknitted socks usually needed replacing after three weeks, with the marching that they did) and he implored, found and instigated the use of the Kitchener Stitch – it sounds a bit fanciful, but that is the story.

Comment by StellaMM 09.02.09 @ 12:14 am

I vanquished second sock syndrome with magic loop. I do both socks on one circ. Love it!

Kitchnering is a different story. It’s the getting started I always have to look up. Once I get past that the knit/purl off front, purl/knit off back mantra is easy.

Never done a toe-up yet but someday!


Comment by Gretchen 09.02.09 @ 12:42 am

Shoot, I’m the queen of socks, yet I have been known to call DD in Texas on my cell phone from the car (passenger seat, no fear) and ask how to set up the Kitchener stitch. I do it well, just can’t remember from pair to pair. Actually, that happened more than once. Socks make good road trip knitting, and there I was, mid-trip, with no way to get the thing off the needles.

Now I own a dog tag key chain that has the Kitchener instructions on it. Whatever it takes, I say.

Comment by Barbara-Kay 09.02.09 @ 2:33 am

I can Kitchener with the best of ’em, and I would rather *not*. The three-needle bind-off is my favorite technique. Could there be a simpler way to turn live stitches into mummified ones?

Comment by Lynn 09.02.09 @ 3:34 am

Can’t help but laugh when I imagine your fingers throwing up their hands! lol

Comment by Suzanne in Mtl 09.02.09 @ 5:32 am

I love doing Kitchener; the first time I tried it I was nervous as hell because so many have claimed it’s hard. I find it has a real rhythm to it and I love how great it looks! The only thing I need is a little reminder on how to set it all up. So that’s written down on a tiny sheet of paper that I keep in my knitting notions bag.

Comment by (formerly) no-blog-rachel 09.02.09 @ 5:33 am

Getting started is my grafting Waterloo. Once I am humbled and look up the start, it breezes along.

Comment by Channon 09.02.09 @ 5:47 am

I’ve always been interested in trying the kitchener stitch. I have never knit anything that called for it…no better time than tomorrow right? 🙂

Comment by TripletMom 09.02.09 @ 7:15 am

@Stella: Ah-ha! So I’m right to think of Wind in the Willows!

Comment by Lanafactrix 09.02.09 @ 7:22 am

After about a dozen socks I think I have the Kitchener stitch down pat. As long as there are no interruptions. I actually find myself with the same self-satisfied smirk on my face that I wear while wielding 5 DPN’s. I once had a group of Chinese ladies stop in front of me on a B.C. ferry when I was sock knitting. They smiled and bobbed their heads like I was the on-board entertainment!

Comment by Julie 09.02.09 @ 8:31 am

I’ll offer you two non-kitchener alternatives. Three needle bind off for the first and the second is something I’ve come up with: bind off all stitches, and mattress stitch them together in the way you’d Kitchener. When I finish a sock I typically Kitchener and then mattress stitch the back and the front to neaten it up since my weaving never looks as pretty as the instruction photos.

Comment by Michelle 09.02.09 @ 8:34 am

I have no idea what to say, so I won’t.


The following exercise is designed to build muscle strength in the arms and shoulders. It is suggested for three days a week.
Begin by standing on a comfortable surface, where you have plenty of room at each side. With a 5-lb potato sack in each hand, extend your arms straight out from your sides and hold them there as long as you can. Try to reach a full minute, then relax. Each day, you’ll find that you can hold this position for just a bit longer.
After a couple of weeks, move up to 10-lb potato sacks, then 50-lb potato sacks,  and then eventually try to get to where you can lift a 100-lb potato sack in each hand and hold your arms straight for more than a full minute.
After you feel confident at that level, put a potato in each of the sacks.

Comment by Don Meyer 09.02.09 @ 9:33 am

Ooh, they are beautiful! And Patricia is totally right- sock yarn is like crack!

I just couldn’t get my brain around the mnemonics in the books to remember Kitchener, but I eventually came up with my own:
Front needle- knit, purl
Back needle- purl, knit
Your first loop and the last one only get half the instructions: the first gets the back half (purl on the front needle, knit on the back one, leaving the loops on the needles), and the last front loop you knit (and there’s no second loop on the front to purl) and then you purl the back- and you’re done. Which probably makes no sense whatsoever to anyone but me, but it’s how I finally memorized the damned thing.

But I mostly knit socks toe-up- easier to try them on as I go (and since 4/5 of my immediate family conveniently has the same size feet as me- I only occasionally have to drag out the charts!

Comment by RobinH 09.02.09 @ 10:14 am

The instructions I’ve found for the kitchener stitch always seem to leave something out (like how to make it match the photos.) But there are many procedures like. I wind up doing something completely my own. (But then, I tried in on something nobody had to wear.)

Comment by LauraN 09.02.09 @ 10:39 am

LOL I love the mental image of fingers throwing up their hands!

And the best place for me to learn (or re-learn) stuff is great videos.

Comment by Diana Troldahl 09.02.09 @ 11:16 am

It’s important not to overthink grafting. Of course, I’m the oddity — someone who actually really enjoys Kitchener stitch 🙂

Comment by Jocelyn 09.02.09 @ 12:01 pm

Love it! Title gets me every time hehe

Comment by Alicia 09.02.09 @ 2:51 pm

The knit witch has a great kitchner grafting video I personally only like knitting wee tiny socks as the adult size take me to Hugs Darcy

Comment by Darcy 09.02.09 @ 8:19 pm

I love to kitchner ( or graft) absolutely love it. I knit tings that need it on purpose, just because I find it so entertaining. I was not dropped on my head. Stop it.

Comment by Laura 09.02.09 @ 9:39 pm

You can actually graft ON THE NEEDLES with no needle and yarn. Knitting Daily has a great tutorial on it. I hated grafting until I learned how to do it without getting a yarn needle. Now I can have them off lickety-split.

1.Break working yarn, giving it a 12-14″ tail (or shorter if you are brave). Move stitches to two needles, half on each, sole to the back, instep to the front.

2.With the working yarn coming off the back needle, knit the first stitch on the FRONT needle, but leave it on the needle, pulling the yarn all the way through.

3. Purl the first stitch on the BACK needle, again leaving it on, but pulling the yarn tail through.

4.PURL the first stitch on the front needle (the one you already knit and left on the needle), pull yarn through and pull it off the needle.

5. KNIT the next stitch, pull yarn through,but leave it ON the needle.

6. KNIT the first stitch on the BACK needle, pull yarn through, jump it off the needle.

7. PURL the next stitch on the BACK needle, pull yarn through, but leave it ON the needle.

8. Repeat steps 4-7 until done.

The rhythm of those steps after setting up in steps 1-3 is:

Front needle: PURL OFF, KNIT ON
Back needle: KNIT OFF, PURL ON

Pull yarn through last stitch, thread needle and weave end in on the inside (I go in the stitch right below the last graft to pull in the “donkey ear” that sometimes can form.


Comment by AndiN 09.03.09 @ 2:28 pm

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