Everyone has trouble with kitchener stitch, also called grafting.
Recently, I had the necessity to teach a friend kitchener over the internet, and ended up sending her (mostly) this. I thought it would be helpful for others--because I explain it so concisely. I think once you've worked it through once or twice, you'll find that you wonder why you ever had trouble with it before.
First, a little preparation--
Make sure that you have lots of uninterrupted time. You will need your work, a tapestry needle and a red life line (unless the work is red, in which case, use a white life line)
Put in a RED (or other contrasting color) life line on this last row of stitches. This will give you a “marker” to tell you where to tighten up the Kitchener. Work loosely the first time through, because you can then go back when you’re done to snug up the stitches. This is not hard, but you only want to snug them up so that they look like stockinette stitches. The end result SHOULD NOT SHOW A SEAM.
Let's say you bought a sweater at the store, and it was too short or two long. You can use this SAME PROCESS to insert (or take out) length. You just remove a row of stitches, put both sides on a separate needle and follow the Kitchener process to join it back together again! Cool, huh?
Remember to work somewhat loosely, and always keep the finishing yarn underneath the needles. You don’t need to be so loose that it gets in the way, but you should not have them so tight either….
The work is in two pieces, WRONG SIDES TOGETHER, on the needles…one in the back (designated BN or bn for back needle) and one in the front (designated FN or fn for front needle) the “n” stands for needle…so if I tell you kfn, you use the tapestry needle as your knitting needle and insert it into the first stitch on the front needle as if to knit. Likewise, there will be kbn (knit back needle) pfn (purl front needle) and pbn (purl back needle).
Note: You are not actually going to KNIT or PURL with the tapestry needle, but rather use it from either the left side or the right side of the stitch leg that faces you. You will go THROUGH the stitch with the tapestry needle as if you were going to "gather up the loops".
So here are some new terms, and just for us. Other people explain it differently, and it would get lengthy and cumbersome to type all of that, over and over and over…which is unnecessary. After you do this a time or two, you will never forget it.
ALSO—you may have heard this terminology---“same off, opposite on”…which is terminology that others use to describe the process of Kitchener. It means that if you are knitting (with the tapestry needle) on the first stitch on the front needle (remember knits are facing you), then you will, after knitting it, drop it off the needle (designated as (drop) here). Likewise, if you purl the stitch on the back needle, you will drop it off. However, if you purl on the front needle, you will leave it on the needle, and if you knit a stitch on the back needle, you will leave it on…that’s what it means…SAME OFF, OPPOSITE ON.
Are you ready?
It’s really not as hard as it sounds
Do each step slowly. When you are confident you understand the repetition, you can go for it.
With the tapestry needle, pfn, *kbn, kfn (drop) pfn, pbn (drop), repeat from * all the way across both needles until you have just one stitch left on the back needle, pbn and drop.
Very important that you make sure that you are weaving the correct stitch at the correct time. This is why you don’t want to set it down, because you will forget where you are…trust me, I’ve tried this over and over again, and tried to come back to it, and ended up with holes—and you don’t want a hole in your work!
Now, after you do that last stitch, the loops will be very loose. Here’s where you’re going to go back to the beginning and snug up the stitches, and why I told you to use a red life line. The loops should always be between the red life line. As you go snugging, (use the tapestry needle to help) the loop will get bigger and bigger, just hold it to the side of the work where you’ve finished, and grab the next side of the loop. After about 10 sts, the finished product will appear before your eyes like magic, and it will look just as if you knit it. If you look at your knitting (stockinette) you will see that the yarn weaves up and down the stitch below and above. This weaving technique is just exactly the same. It is just too cool to describe. Go all the way across snugging up all the stitches, just so that they look like stockinette. When you get to the last stitch, snug it up too, then return the tapestry needle to the yarn and finish off the end, weaving it to the inside of the work and back and forth through the stitches on the inside.
Now before you say “OMG! That’s so much to remember!" Keep in mind that I’m being “wordy” here. If I had you in front of me, I would say “here” a lot. Showing you would be one of these AHA! Moments. If you still feel intimidated, or it doesn’t look right after you've worked the stitches, you can always remove it and try again--that’s why the lifeline!!
When you're done, you can pull out the lifeline and admire your work!