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Kitchener Stitch Grafting

Two sets of matching live stitches can be grafted together invisibly with a technique known as Kitchener stitch. Some knitting lore has it that this stitch was named after British Field Marshall Horatio Herbert Kitchener, who developed a pattern for knitted socks with a grafted toe to be used by British and American women during World War I. This may or may not be true, but it's a good story, and the Kitchener stitch is a great technique. You can graft sets of knit stitches together, you can graft sets of purl stitches together, and you can graft combinations, as long as the stitches on the two sets are identical in number and type.

Grafting Knit Stitches

The first example shows two pieces of stockinette stitch being grafted together. Hold the two needles containing stitches to be joined together with the knit side of the pieces facing out (Photo 1).

With a tapestry needle threaded with matching yarn (a contrasting color is used here for illustration) pass through the first stitch on the front knitting needle purlwise, leaving the stitch on the needle (Photo 2).

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Photo 1 Photo 2

Then pass the threaded needle through the first stitch on the back knitting needle knitwise, leaving the stitch on the needle (Photo 3).

Now pass the threaded needle through the first stitch on the front needle knitwise and drop the stitch from the needle (Photo 4).

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Photo 3 Photo 4

Then pass the threaded needle through the next stitch on the front needle purlwise, leaving it on the needle (Photo 5).

Pass the threaded needle through the first stitch on the back needle purlwise and drop it from the needle (Photo 6).

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Photo 5 Photo 6

Then pass the threaded needle through the same stitch knitwise, leaving it on the back needle (Photo 7).

Continue in this manner across all the stitches. It may help to repeat a Kitchener stitch mantra as you work, with the first part applying to stitches on the front needle and the second part applying to stitches on the back needle (Photo 8).

Knit off, purl on; purl off, knit on.

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Photo 7 Photo 8

The resulting join is another row of knit stitches between the two sets (Photo 9).

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Photo 9

Grafting Purl Stitches

Here's an example of grafting reverse stockinette stitch: To graft two sets of purl stitches together, you basically reverse the knit method. Hold the needles containing the two sets of stitches together with the purl sides facing out (Photo 10).

Pass the threaded tapestry needle through the first stitch on the front needle knitwise, leaving it on the front knitting needle (Photo 11).

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Photo 10 Photo 11

Then pass the threaded needle through the first stitch on the back needle purlwise, leaving it on the back knitting needle (Photo 12).

Pass the threaded needle through the first stitch on the front needle purlwise and drop it from the needle (Photo 13).

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Photo 12 Photo 13

Then pass the threaded needle through the next stitch on the front needle knitwise, leaving it on the needle (Photo 14).

Pass the threaded needle through the first stitch on the back needle knitwise and drop it from the needle (Photo 15).

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Photo 14 Photo 15

Then pass the threaded needle through the next stitch on the back needle purlwise and drop it from the needle (Photo 16).

Continue in this manner across the stitches (Photo 17) repeating this mantra:

Purl off, knit on; knit on, purl off.

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Photo 16 Photo 17

Here's what the graft looks like with purl stitches (Photo 18). Again, this would be invisible in matching yarn.

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Photo 18

Grafting Combinations of Knit & Purl Stitches

Now we'll graft two sets of knit 3, purl 3 ribbing. Hold the needles together with matching sides facing out; in this case we're using the sides that begin with knit stitches as the right side (Photo 19).

Begin as previously described for knit stitches. When you get to the last knit before a purl, pass the threaded needle through the stitch knitwise and off the needle as usual, then pass it through the next stitch knitwise, leaving it on the knitting needle (Photo 20).

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Photo 19 Photo 20

Pass the threaded needle through the first stitch on the back needle purlwise and off the needle; then pass it through the next stitch purlwise, leaving it on the knitting needle (Photo 21).

Proceed with the three purl stitches on the front needle as usual, and when you come to the next knit stitch, begin again with the knit grafting technique. The joining is a new row of k3, p3 rib, which would be invisible in matching yarn (Photo 22).

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Photo 21 Photo 22