A Last-Minute Finishing Trick For You

Ann Budd's Broken Cable Rib Socks

I don't have any magic words to help you get all your holiday knitting done on time. (Sorry about that.) However, I do have a nifty little grafting tip for those of you, who like me, completely and utterly despise the Kitchener Stitch.

Up until a few years ago, I literally whimpered every time I had to face those cursed Kitcheners. Since grafting has been voted the most comfy sock seam by all ten of my sensitive little toes, poor Nicholas, when finishing the Broken Cable Rib Socks for me, gamely attempted the K-stitch several times, until finally I showed him a trick some kind knitter had once shown me: how to graft on the needles.

This holiday season, in the spirit of saving our collective gift-kintting sanity, I now pass on this wonderful tip to all of you.

Grafting On The Needles

Step 1: Knit your socks to the point where the instructions tell you to graft together the final stitches.
Step 2: Divide the remaining stitches evenly between two double-pointed needles.
Step 3: Hold both needles parallel in your left hand, so that the working yarn is on your right, and is coming off the rightmost stitch on the back needle.
Step 4: Cut the working yarn to a reasonable length, say, 12".
Step 5: Using a third dpn, PURL the first stitch on the FRONT needle.
Step 6: DROP the stitch off the left front needle, and pull the yarn all the way through the dropped stitch so that there is no longer a stitch on the right (working) needle.
Step 7: KNIT the next stitch on the FRONT needle, but this time LEAVE the stitch on the left front needle; pull the yarn all the way through as before.
Step 8: KNIT the first stitch on the BACK needle.
Step 9: DROP the stitch off the left back needle and pull the yarn all the way through.
Step 10: PURL the next stitch on the BACK needle.
Step 11: LEAVE that stitch on the left back needle and pull the yarn all the way through.

Repeat Steps 5 through 11 until you get to the last two stitches; work these two stitches together as established and drop both stitches off the needles. Pull the yarn all the way through. Thread yarn onto a tapestry needle, bring yarn to inside of sock, and weave in ends, tacking down the last "ear" loops as needed. (You can pull any excess loopage to the inside to make tacking it down a bit prettier.)

I made up a little shortcut chant for Nicholas to help him remember what to do when:

PURL FRONT OFF — purl first st on front needle, drop st off
KNIT FRONT ON — knit next st on front needle, leave st on
KNIT BACK OFF — knit first st on back needle, drop st off
PURL BACK ON — purl next st on back needle, leave st on

Hopefully Helpful Hints:
Keep your tension a bit on the loose side when you are pulling the yarn through each stitch. Then, when you get to the end, before you weave in the end, use your tapestry needle to adjust the tension of the grafting stitches so that they match the rest of your work. When you are working your knits and purls, pass the working yarn under and between the two left needles, not over them.

This method has been such a sanity saver for me. I know everyone has their little grafting tricks, so if you have another good tip to share, leave a comment! We could all use a little knitting sanity right about now…

New in the Store: Annetrelac Socks

New to the Store: Annetrelac Socks!

We're still pulling patterns out of the sold-out Holiday Knits 2007 issue to put into the KD Pattern Store, and today, in honor of the flood of requests for them, we have loaded up the Annetrelac Socks for you! I know, I know, it really is not fair to tempt you with one more pretty pair of socks when it is six days before the Big Jolly Dude comes down the chimney, but lots and lots of folks have been asking for this one. More to come as soon as the KD Store elves can convert the patterns and load 'em up!

Great Free Sock Pattern eBook:
Knitting Socks with Knitting Daily:
5 Free Sock Knitting Patterns

Need a new sock knitting pattern? Want a great free sock pattern? I've chosen five of our top sock knitting downloads and put them all together in one FREE ebook for you.

So what kind of sock patterns are in this eBook? Let's see. There's a knitted lace sock pattern, a cabled sock pattern, a colorwork sock pattern, a men's sock pattern, and an easy beginner sock pattern. Something for everyone!

Download Knitting Socks with Knitting Daily: 5 Free Sock Knitting Patterns

Sandi Wiseheart is the editor of Knitting Daily.

What's on Sandi's needles? Ten (!) inches of the Gathered Pullover; a pair of socks on two circulars with partial heel flaps, and ten inches of the hood of my husband's cabled hoodie. Whoo! Progress!

Other Things You May Like to Check Out:


Finishing & Construction, Knitting Daily Blog

82 thoughts on “A Last-Minute Finishing Trick For You

  1. You mean there’s another way to do kitchener? This is how I have always done kitchener stitch… I’m not sure exactly where I learned. Isn’t it described this way in the first Stitch n’ Bitch book? I know for sure it is shown this way on knittinghelp.com – the BEST knitting reference ever!

  2. To Lynn G: YES you can use this method if you knit continental (I do too). Basically, when you go to kitchener you are no longer knitting, you are sewing 🙂 Just follow the directions and you’ll be good!

  3. This isn’t actually a new way to graft, it’s just the normal kitchner done with a knitting needle instead of a yarn needle. Each method appeals to different people.

  4. What’s the big deal about doing the Kitchener Stitch? Why do you all hate it so much? I agree with elizabeth w that this ‘trick’ is the same old K stitch with a needle.

  5. for those of you REALLY having trouble getting knitting gifts done, consider making a donation to Heifer International. I gave my family the “Knitting Basket (2 llamas & 2 sheep) and promised them random gifts of knitting throughout the year–which are all the projects I failed to finish in time!

  6. oh!! I just re-read the post and the comments and realise this is done with actual knit and purl stitches! that IS a different way to do it… I personally don’t have trouble doing kitchener so I guess I wasn’t reading too carefully. Thanks for the tip though, I will give that a try on my next sock toe 🙂

  7. Thanks for today’s Kitchener Stitch tips. I understand the logic behind it, but somehow I end up doing it backwards. Maybe I won’t have to rip it out several times before getting it right in the future.

  8. OMG!! Finally something that makes sense to me!! I’m left handed but knit right handed until it comes to the tapestry needling. Then I’m strictly a lefty. I had an awful time trying to maneuver that tapestry needle from the right with my left hand. I tried to figure it out doing it from the left but couldn’t figure out the rythem. I tried it out on a sock and it worked great! Thanks Sandi for the great tip!

  9. Here is how I get rid of those pesky sock “ears”. When the stitches are on the 2 needles ready to be grafted I slip each of the end stitches over it’s neighbour and off the needle. Your decreases will look like this /…… Just use a spare needle to accomplish this. You have the added bonus of four less stitches to graft!

    Elizabeth T

  10. Ooh! I’m about to cast on for a pair of socks and am looking forward to trying out this method. I don’t mind doing Kitchener stitch but I do mind when I poke myself with the sharp needle while I’m doing it. I haven’t found a blunt tip needle for grafting socks and now I guess I don’t have to!

  11. Many thanks for the tutorial on (cough, choke, gasp) Kitchener stitch. I try to avoid this by knitting most of my socks from the toe up, and when doing cuff-down socks, I use star or round toe decreasing and finishing. On another note, thank you very much for the discussions of gauge and custom fitting. I just finished the first cardigan I’ve knit for myself in decades, this time I really paid attention to gauge and measurements, and the results are beautiful! Yours, Barbara S., Richford NY

  12. SANDI, THANKS. I am still struggling with this stitch and I also plan to LAMINATE these directions. Thanks for all the interesting and helpful info you’ve posted for us this year. Merry Christmas!

  13. Sandi, that is the most “awesomest” of awesome knitting tips ever! I dread kitchener stitch when doing socks and have managed to avoid it pretty well by closing off the toe with a three needle bind off — but now I will definitely have to try your method now. I see much more sock knitting in my future. Thanks for sharing!

  14. I have never Kitchnered(is that a verb?) in my life. I do my socks strictly toe up. And if I have to, I reverse knit from the toe decrease insts in cuff down socks. No that I’m afraid to try it or anything, I just like toe up patterns. So I will do a pair where I have to graft, just so I can try this.
    AND- I won one of the CD drop spindles from Amy Clark! Yahoo! I can’t wait to try it!

  15. Oh, I love my family and my friends. But I have six brothers and sisters, six nieces and nephews and three in-laws to consider. I’ve had years where I made stuff for everyone and to be honest, I didn’t put much thought into each gift (there were a lot!!) and they weren’t received well. This year I’m making my first pair of socks for my mother, two toys for my best friend and boyfriend, and a hat and glove set for one of my brothers who specifically asked for them. There were also some gifts I made much earlier in the year, but decided they didn’t fit me, but would work well for so-and-so. I hope those do all right.

    I love knitting and crocheting, but I’d rather do a very nice job on a few projects where I know the person will like it, than waste a lot of effort on gifts that don’t suit.

    Maybe that’s just me, though.

  16. Oh MY!!!! That grafting tip is the best Christmas present ever!!!! You have no idea, errr, hmmm, I guess you do…what a pain in the you know what trying to to the Kitchner stitch has been for me. My students are going to love this!!! Happy happy joy joy…bless you my dear!!!

  17. forget kitchener or grafting on the needles. check out Lucy Neatby’s web site: tips and techniques page; and try her ‘sock toe chimney’. It’s truly a magical thing. Your sock toes will look wonderful, absolutely smooth and neat. And if you don’t like it first time, you can try again without losing stitches.

  18. Kitchener stitch isn?t complicated. It?s DESCRIPTIONS of the stitch that are complicated. If you know how to ?see? it, it?s a snap. Most of the directions, including the ones here, treat the process in four steps, with hard to remember combos of knitwises and purlwises and slip-it-offs and leave-it-ons. YOU HAVE THE YARN END ON YOUR SEWING NEEDLE, SO STOP THINKING OF KNITTING AND START THINKING OF SEWING. When you sew, a stitch consists of one motion that goes in one hole and out the other. So, too, with Kitchener ? in one hole and out the next on the back, in one hole and out the next on the front. The only question is which direction you enter and leave the ?holes? (stitches). Your needle, and the horizontal strand of yarn it leaves behind, makes purl bumps between the stitches. It?s that simple. So whether you?re working with the front needle stitches or the back needle stitches, enter the loop of the rightmost stitch from the OUTSIDE or stockinette side, and exit the next stitch from the INSIDE or purl side, in one smooth rocking motion, kicking the first stitch off the needle as you go, and leaving a little purl bump behind on the inside where it belongs. The only slight exception is starting the first stitch on both needles, which only uses the ?exiting? half of the stitch. I actually use the same in and out rocking motion in my head, entering an imaginary stitch and coming out in my actual first stitch, to keep it straight. Whether you use Sandi?s method or mine or someone else?s, please don?t be intimidated by Kitchener stitch ? it can be such a powerful tool! (Once when a visit to the ER took longer than anticipated, and I reached the toe of my sock, I got a plastic fork from the cafeteria, broke off all but one tine, and used that nifty tool to lace the yarn through the stitches to graft them off!)

  19. I’m another one who doesn’t understand the problem with the Kitchener stitch. It seems far easier to understand than short rows, with all that wrapping and “pick up and knit” and all that! Still, if you’ve made it that far on a sock, the Kitchener just isn’t that hard. But, I guess we each understand things differently!

    I do like the tip in the comments about the little “wings”, though. That will help! Thanks!

  20. I too thought that doing it on the needles was the only method for the kitchener stitch. It’s so easy that way and I always wondered why others seemed to find it a challenge. Suddenly everyone else’s complaints make sense! I can’t imagine even attempting it without needles!

  21. I don’t mind Kitchener stitch, but even after piles of socks (and holiday sock ornaments) I still need to have the Kitchener directions right in front of me. For some reason every time I try and do it on my own without the instructions I reverse it and have a ridge on the toes of the socks.

  22. When I first began to knit socks, it took me a long time to understand the concept of the kitchener stitch. Thank you Sandi for a different approach. I will try it. I always learn something from your column. Keep up the good work. Sue B

  23. Thanks, Sandy for the alternative. I don’t mind the kitchener, but like Seanna L, I always have to have instructions in front of me. The little rhyme might help! Thanks for such a great website, and MERRY CHRISTMAS AND HAPPY HOLIDAYS TO ALL.

  24. Ok, I’m confused. Do I hold the two needles like in a three needle bind off? Then which is the front and which is the back?

    This looks intriguing since I’ve only done kitchener three times (I’m finishing sock #2 of my second *ever* pair). No matter how many times I have tried this, and I always have the book in front of me, I tend to goof something up and not drop some stitch when I should or something else goes wrong.

  25. I love grafting toe stitches. My grafting trick gets rid of the “ears” on either end, when you’ve got your stitches evenly divided on two dpn’s. Ready? Pass the two end stitches to another dpn, lift the end stitch over the second-to-last-stitch and drop it (as if binding off), then replace the remaining stitch on the dpn. Repeat for each end stitch (so you’ve decreased 4 stitches in total), then graft as usual. No little ears!!

    I suppose my other trick is to just look down on both needles (so the knit sides of both are facing up), and if you follow the path of the needle, you just chant “down and up” for one needle, “down and up” for the other needle, and so forth. The stitches get dropped off the needle after the ‘down’ step. Hope these help someone!!

  26. Hi All,
    For those of you in the FREMONT, CA area, there are still some HOLIDAY KNITS issues left in the Borders bookstore in the Fremont Hub (2 to be exact, after I snatched up mine yesterday evening). Good luck! That Koolhaas hat is really nice!

  27. Hi all,

    To ELIZABETH T (and also SARAH A) for her tip on the sock “ears” and JERI LEA K for her truly concise way of thinking about Kitchener stitch: THANK YOU! I am able to do a passable K stitch, but these tips will definitely make things easier!

  28. Thank you!!! I hate, hate, hate the blasted Kitchener Stitch!!! Everytime I try to do it, I end up with purl stitches instead of knit stitches. So…my solution is to turn whatever I’m working on inside out and perform my dreaded K-stitch. I’m not a new knitter…I’ve been knitting for 20 years but I think I have a mental block with this. I’m going to try your method as soon as I can with the socks that I’m currently knitting. Thank YOUUUUU!!!

  29. Sandi, I wonder if I’m allowed to translate your instructions into swedish and post on my blog and on our knitting guilds website?
    And credit you (and/or IK) of course.

  30. Thanks so much for showing us a new way to graft the toes. I have always done & taught the Kitchener stitch for socks & shoulder seams. I have also given my group a little diagram to see where the needle goes along with a little chant “near knit/purl off,far purl/knit off”. I can’t wait to try this new grafting way. Most of the woman in my group hate to do the Kitchener stitchener and I always have to sit with them and do the chant. Once again the info here is invaluable. Thank- you, Thank-you, Thank-you!!:) And you can teach an old dog new tricks, keep them coming. Fire Island Knitter

  31. Thanks so much for the toe finishing tip. I never did like the way my toes came out with the tapestry needle method. Now I once again look forward to getting to the sock patterns in my pattern pile. Happy New Year to you and to your staff of co-workers and models and to your knitting husband.

  32. I’m so confused – these instructions sound just like what I thought I was already doing with the Kitchener…it’s the method in the “Learn to Knit Socks” pamphlet thingy.

  33. Your Knitting Daily was a blessing with your instructions for Grafting on the needle! I had been struggling to graft a project and had no success. Deciding to take a break and go back to that task later, I checked my e-mails and found your instructions on Grafting on the needle just waiting for me! Auspicious! It was a blessing in disguise! I used your instructions and completed the grafting. Such an easy method, absolutely the easiest instructions to follow. I am going to use this method for all future grafting that needs to be done. Thank You so much for your instructions, and the timing on my receipt of them! Now I will not need to do a three needle bind off for my sock toes and all other grafting will not be a dreaded project! What a wonderful technique!

  34. Does this work with grafting lace, too? I just finished the Clementine Shawlette from Spring (?) 2007 IK and the grafting took forever and wasn’
    t the neatest in the world.

  35. Hi All,

    I started swatching for the KOOLHAAS HAT yesterday, hoping to finish another hat before Christmas — forget it! It is very tedious with all the 1/1 cables. I’ll still do the hat, because it looks great, but it is definitely not a fast knit.

  36. I just finished a sock using the grafting on the needles technique. It was perfect as I was at work and I hadn’t brought a tapestry needle with me. I could finish the sock and start the next one without having to wait until I got home. Since I am rushing to finish the pair by Tuesday it was fantastic. I found it to be the same as the Kitchener stitch and I did have to write down the 4 steps and refer back to them every so often (the way I do for the K-stitch) but otherwise I found it very easy to do. The best part was not needing to bring another tool with me since socks are my commuter project.

  37. The other easy way to learn to Kitchener is to take some contrasting yarn of similar thickness and knit a few extra rows, then pull out your knitting needles. Tuck these rows inside the tip of your sock and hold them from the inside with your left hand. With the tapestry needle in your right hand, use the contrasting yarn as a guide while you connect the stitches across the toe? it will be obvious where the needle should go. After finishing the stitches, turn the sock inside out and remove the contrasting yarn. Then turn the sock right-side out, straighten the tension of the Kitchener stitch if necessary, and weave in the final thread. (This is a trick I learned while finishing stockings made on my antique circular sock machines, but it works equally well on hand-knit stockings.)

  38. Help! What does “work these two stitches together as established” mean? I know I should be able to figure this out, and maybe I did and have a sock ear problem instead, but I will check back here in case somebody replies. : ) Thanks!

  39. Re your quick finishing method versus the kitchener stitch. It is exactly the same but instead of using a needle (darning) you are using your knitting needle. Much easier to pull through with darning needle than knitting it. Sorry, I don’t agree. Kitchener stitch is identical to what you are doing

  40. Forgot where I learned this…”To avoid the dog’s ears at the ends of kitchener stitch pass the last stitch at either end of both needles over the stitch next to it (i.e.the first stitch is passed over
    the 2nd stitch and the last stitch is passed over the next to the last on each needle) before you start the Kitchener graft.

  41. I just tried your finishing technique using knitting needles instead of a tapestry needle (I’m on vacation and forgot my tapestry needle but remembered this post)! I loved this method so much more than using the tapestry needle and will continue to use it. THANK YOU VERY MUCH!

  42. You ROCK, this is the first time I felt like I got the toe right! Normally I just kind of fudge it. Not only that but doing it this way makes it so much easier to understand what they meant all along…. Thanks!

  43. I don’t like the k-stitch very well, so I developed my own way to seam the toes of socks or the tips of mittens. Instead of putting the stitches to be grafted on two DPNs, I put them on two small stitch holders. I then turn the sock inside out, and pull both the stitch holders through to the inside. I then put the stitches back onto two needles and then do a three-needle bind off. This results in a beautiful, firm seam. It sounds a little complicated, but really it’s not.

  44. I get all confused with the kitchner purlwise-knitwise but this knitting bind off is FABULOUS. When I’m done I don’t even have to tweek the stitches! And, yes, you can do it continental too.

  45. I just tried this for the first time a minute ago. While I can Kitcher faster (I knit A LOT of socks), my stithes were nice and even! Like Kris F. there was no last minute ‘tweeking’. Thank you so much for sharing this!

  46. I have done socks both with the kitchner stich and the grafting meathod discussed above.. I prefer the kitchner. I think its more substantial of a join, and isnt realy as tuff as some make it out to be, it is all in the directions you follow to do it. I found that a good set of instructions with illustrations for each step did the trick. the little spiral knitting book of techniques put out by interweave had good example of this. give it a try… its all in the directions!

  47. My biggest problem with grafting is not with similar stitches but with grafting in pattern like a seed stitch or other more complex stitch. I’d love to see photos and instructions for that.

  48. I’m comfortable using the Kitchener st with sock toes but as KarenK commented a technique for grafting more complex st patterns would be very helpful. I have a shawl pattern that I’ve been avoiding for 2 years because it is grafted at the center and involves p and k sts being grafted together.

  49. sorry, i can’t do kitchner either but this is not physically possible. when your tip says…”…pass the working yarn under and between the two needles, not over them.” if the working yarn is in the back of the work, bringing it under and between the needles puts in no way close to making a purl stitch. either it cannot be between the needles or it has to be over the front needle to make a purl stitch. a video of these specifics might help but so far this makes less sense than kitchner.

  50. If you want to know how to do this when there are both knit and purl stitches, I’ll try to explain. On the stitches you drop off, always work them opposite than the stitch on the needle (if it’s a knit stitch purl it if it’s a purl stitch knit it). The stitches you leave on the needle work them the same as what is on the needle (knit a knit stitch, purl a purl stitch). Work the front and back the same way. So if you need a chant it would be more like:
    opposite off, same on.
    Don’t try this method until you understand how to do it with just stocking knit, then this should make sense.

  51. I have torn a hole about 1/4″ x 1/4″ on my husband’s favorite sweater. I’m trying to mend it – can anyone help me please? Any tips would be greatly appreciated.