Wednesday, April 13, 2016

K is for Kitchener who?

Knitting lore claims that Lord Kitchener, in addition to raising armies for WWI, also rallied the knitters and submitted a pattern for a better sock for the soldiers, featuring a new way of closing the toe - grafting - that didn't leave the bulky, uncomfortable seam that the old method made.

Think of all the mittens I could have been working on while I was messing around with this poster on MS Paint

There's absolutely no evidence that the Earl Kitchener had anything to do with the advent of grafting sock toes, but it's still known as Kitchener stitch today, and it's not just for sock toes.  It creates an invisible join between two sets of live stitches anywhere you might want such a seam, including mitten tops.

Unfortunately, Horatio Herbert Kitchener popularized this method around 1915, so our mitten top isn't going to be Kitchenered.

Sorry, K is a really hard letter.

After ripping out my mitten top and reknitting it, I found that I was once again left with an odd number of stitches - 9 instead of 8.  Glaring at the mitten made no change, so I opted to just ignore the odd stitch and soldier on.  It's what Field Commander the Right Honorable Kitchener would have wanted.

The historical knitter we're trying to copy may have been frustrated with her mittens, too, since it looks like she ended up using two different methods of closing up the tops.  The mitten on the left was pretty obviously decreased down to a very few stitches and then cinched up through them, and the one of the right was probably finished with a three-needle-bind-off when there were about 16-18 stitches left.

With only 9 stitches on my needles, it made the most sense to lasso them up, so I cut my yarn, leaving a long tail, and then used a darning needle to thread the tail through the remaining stitches, and pulled tight.  The end result was a little pointy, but acceptable.

That finishes the main body of the mitten.


  1. Fascinating post, Michelle.. loved the lore behind the Kitchener stitch. Enjoyed this!
    Many Blessings,

    My A2Zs @ As the Fates Would Have It & Promptly Written
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  2. I don't know about his knitting legacy, but I've been to Kitchener, Ontario which I'm guessing might have been named after this guy.

    Arlee Bird
    A to Z Challenge Co-host
    Tossing It Out