Tutorial: Grafting with Kitchener Stitch (Stockinette & Garter)

Grafting is like knitting magic! Really, that’s what it feels like. You start with two rows of live stitches and a yarn needle, and you end up with … nothing! No seam, no line, no evidence that it wasn’t all knit in one piece, just a magically closed piece of knit fabric. What you’re doing is actually creating a row of stitches using the yarn needle, threading the yarn in and out of live stitch loops in exactly the pattern that a row of stitches makes, so it’s truly seamless. It takes a few times to really get used to, to get the rhythm of it down, but once you do, I think you’ll love it like I do!

Note: If you just want a plain text refresher on the basic steps, scroll down to the bottom!

Important note for grafting: Pull your stitches snug as you go—not TOO snug, but probably a bit tighter than you think is good. For a truly seamless join, it’s important that the grafted row is the same size as the knitted rows, and a common beginner error is not pulling the stitches tightly enough and ending up with a loose graft. It’s possible to tighten it later, once you’re done, but it’s much easier to just tug on the yarn as you graft.

Two live rows of stockinette stitch

Grafting Stockinette Stitch

We’ll start with the classic version of Kitchener Stitch, grafting two live rows of Stockinette together. Your work should look like this, above (well, ignore that peek of garter stitch on the left). Both rows of live stitches (they could also be one round of live stitches, but divided in half to look like two parallel rows) on needles, held parallel, tips pointing in the same direction.

These swatches each have a tail, but your knitting probably just has one tail—it may be coming off the front or the back. Cut the yarn so that the tail is approximately four times the length of the row of stitches (for example, if the live stitches are about 5 inches wide on the needle when spread out comfortably, then cut the yarn with a tail approximately 20 inches long). Thread that tail onto a blunt yarn needle.

Two live rows of stockinette stitch, needles held parallel, ready for grafting

Now, hold the needles together like this, in your left hand, so you’re looking at the right side of the front row, and the wrong side of the back row is facing you behind it. (Wrong sides are touching in the middle.) I’ll use a contrasting color yarn to graft so you can see the stitches, but you’ll be using the yarn tail (or another piece of yarn in your working yarn color, if you don’t have a tail for some reason).

Setup step 1: through front first stitch purl-wise

Start by bringing your yarn needle through the front first stitch purl-wise, as pictured above, leaving the stitch on the knitting needle, and thread the yarn through it.

Setup step 2: through back first stitch knit-wise

Then bring the yarn needle through the back first stitch knit-wise, leaving the stitch on the knitting needle, and thread the yarn through it. These first two steps are setup steps. The next step will begin the repeating steps.

Stockinette Step 1

st st step 1: through front first stitch knit-wise

1: Bring yarn needle through front first stitch knit-wise …

st st step 1: drop stitch off needle

… and drop that stitch off the knitting needle.

Stockinette Step 2

st st step 2: through front next stitch purl-wise

2: Bring yarn needle through front next stitch purl-wise …

st st step 2: pull yarn through, leaving stitch on needle

… and pull yarn through, leaving the stitch on the knitting needle.

Stockinette Step 3

st st step 3: through back first stitch purl-wise

3: Bring yarn needle through back first stitch purl-wise …

st st step 3: drop stitch off needle

… and drop that stitch off the knitting needle.

Stockinette Step 4

st st step 4: through back next stitch knit-wise

4: Bring yarn needle through back next stitch knit-wise …

st st step 4: pull yarn through, leaving stitch on needle

… and pull yarn through, leaving the stitch on the knitting needle.

Row of grafted stockinette stitch, done with contrasting color yarn

Now repeat Steps 1-4 until you reach the end (you can scroll to the bottom to read the simplified steps without photos). On the final two stitches, you’ll work the step which includes dropping the stitch off the needle on one side, then skip to the step which includes dropping the stitch on the other side. (If the two rows had the same number of stitches, you’ll end with Step 1 then Step 3.)

Grafting Garter Stitch

Two live rows of garter stitch

Now that you know how to do standard Stockinette Kitchener Stitch, let’s try grafting Garter Stitch! It’s exactly the same, except that you’ll flip the knit-wise/purl-wise on the back stitches. So we’ll move a bit more quickly through these steps.

Firstly, your garter stitch should look like the stitches above: the bumps right up against the needle on the front row, and the bumps down off the needle on the back row (these are the two right sides facing up, which will be facing outwards when the needles are held together parallel). If your garter stitch doesn’t match this, then you could maybe knit one extra row on one or both side(s) to make it match.

For the setup steps (not pictured), instead of going purl-wise through the front stitch then knit-wise through the back stitch, go purl-wise through both stitches, front then back, leaving both on the knitting needles.

Garter Step 1

garter step 1: through front first stitch knit-wise

1: Bring yarn needle through front first stitch knit-wise, and drop that stitch off the knitting needle.

Garter Step 2

garter step 2: after dropping first stitch off needle, through next front stitch purl-wise

2: Bring yarn needle through front next stitch purl-wise, and pull yarn through, leaving the stitch on the knitting needle.

Garter Step 3

garter step 3: through back first stitch knit-wise

3: Bring yarn needle through back first stitch knit-wise, and drop that stitch off the knitting needle.

Garter Step 4

garter step 4: after dropping first stitch off needle, through next back stitch purl-wise

4: Bring yarn needle through back next stitch purl-wise, and pull yarn through, leaving the stitch on the knitting needle.

Repeat Steps 1-4, and end your row of grafting as explained for Stockinette. There you go! You’ve worked knitting magic!

Swatch with grafted garter stitch and stockinette stitch sections, in contrasting color yarn

Now here are the steps in simplified text.
P-wise = purl-wise
K-wise = knit-wise
st = stitch

Grafting Stockinette

Setup Step A: Go through front first st P-wise, leaving st on needle.
Setup Step B: Go through back first st K-wise, leaving st on needle.

Step 1: Go through front first st K-wise, dropping st off needle.
Step 2: Go through front next st P-wise, leaving st on needle.
Step 3: Go through back first st P-wise, dropping st off needle.
Step 4: Go through back next st K-wise, leaving st on needle.

Grafting Garter Stitch

Setup Step A: Go through front first st P-wise, leaving st on needle.
Setup Step B: Go through back first st P-wise, leaving st on needle.

Step 1: Go through front first st K-wise, dropping st off needle.
Step 2: Go through front next st P-wise, leaving st on needle.
Step 3: Go through back first st K-wise, dropping st off needle.
Step 4: Go through back next st P-wise, leaving st on needle.


1 comment

  1. Brenda Sykes / September 27, 2019 / Reply

    Beautiful