A Tutorial on Combined Kitchener’s Stitch/Swiss Darning for attaching knit applique

I love the way knit stitches can flip over and camouflage themselves, so that they mimic themselves upside-down.   Continuous Cables (called Ring Cables in the 3rd Treasury of Knitting Patterns) are a great example of this, so are provisional cast ons, tubular cast ons, and offs; Duplicate Stitch and Kitchener’s Stitch are two more chameleons. With duplicate stitch, you can add a color of yarn that you didn’t actually knit in, or weave in ends almost invisibly, or darn a heel before it actually gets a hole while keeping the elasticity of the original.  With Kitchener’s stitch (named after Lord Kitchener who is said to have invented the technique in order to create smoother socks and thus decrease trench foot during WWI)  you can join toes, shoulders, afghan squares, and sleeve heads…anywhere you want to invisibly connect live stitches.  (You can actually do it over cast off stitches too, if you want a firmer seam, but I digress from my rambling introduction…)

If you are unfamiliar with these techniques, here are two tutorials:

Knitty tutorial on duplicate stitch in patterns

Knitty tutorial on Kitchener’s stitch AKA grafting

So, why would anyone want to combine these techniques?  Well, I hope a lot of people will want to use it to connect the heart shaped leaves to the background when I finally finish my mitten pattern this Fall!  It is a tidy way to sew down any knit applique, such as Fafnor the dragon’s head in Viking Knits by Elsebeth Lavold.  Basically, the bottom of the seam treats the live stitches as if you are grafting, and the top of the seam treats the background fabric as if you are using duplicate stitch.

First arrange the motif attractively on the background.  If the motif looks best on an angle, then you will attach it to stitches in different rows.  If you like it best lined up straight, then the sewing will go linearly.

Put the live stitches on the motif onto a knitting needle (they have probably been on a holder until there was a background to sew them to.)

Thread the tail onto a tapestry needle (My nice blunt ones were missing, so I used a sharp one, I like blunt ones better because I’m not as likely to split a pile).

Enter the first stitch on the motif from behind as if to purl it.

Lining up the stitch that best fits below the motif (taking the turn of the cloth into consideration) Follow the path of the stitch of the background fabric .

Draw up the thread neatly (not too tight, not too loose, but just right…passing up a great chance for a Baby Bear joke, you can adjust the tension later, I just don’t like to wait) Then continue out the other side of the background stitch.

Re-enter the first stitch on your knitting needle as if to knit it, lift the stitch off the needles.  Enter the next stitch from behind.

Choose the next background stitch to work duplicate in (it could be the one next to the one you just used, or diagonal to it) follow the path of the yarn.

Into and out of the background stitch.

Enter the knit stitch as if to knit.

If your yarn end is too short, like mine here, you can arrange the tapestry needle, then re-thread the eye before pulling it through.

Pull the stitch through, weave in the end, and you will have one satisfyingly mysterious bit of knitting in your hands.

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