The Man Behind the Kitchener Stitch

I got interested in the history of this stitch, wondering how it got its name. A search on Google (where else?) provided me with the answer.

Well, I'll be - a man is responsible for this knitting technique! Field Marshal Horatio Herbert Kitchener, 1st Earl Kitchener, is credited with promoting this method of grafting knitting stitches. According to the story, he encouraged the populace of Britain to knit "comforts" for the boys in the troops. At that time the method of finishing the toe of a sock was with a seam and the Earl knew that this seam caused his men great discomfort on long marches and wet/damp trench conditions. He put into public circulation a new sock pattern, one which used grafted toes, using his high status in the Empire to promote it. Unknowingly, he changed the course of sock knitting history as these socks were so much more comfortable for the soldiers. He probably didn't invent the grafting technique but he certainly made it famous enough to bear his name.

And then, if the fact that a man was responsible wasn't fab enough, it turns out he was a rather famous homo, too. There was Captain Oswald Fitzgerald, his "constant and inseparable companion" and his aide-de-camp. He gathered around him a cadre of eager young and unmarried officers nicknamed "Kitchener's band of boys". He avoided interviews with women, took a great deal of interest in the Boy Scout movement, and decorated his rose garden with four pairs of sculptured bronze boys. Apparently, there is no evidence that he ever loved a woman.

I hope you will be able to open the attachments. I love the second one: "You are the man I want!" Yeah, right. I'd like a knitting bag made out of that fabric.

The Earl was certainly a 'man's man', a highly decorated and successful soldier who enjoyed great popularity in the United Kingdom. His face is well-known on the famous military recruitment poster of his time. Patrick Barkham, a contemporary journalist, remarked that Kitchener "has the failing acquired by most of the Egyptian officers, a taste for buggery". (from Wikipedia)

I know that whenever I make a mistake while grafting and mutter "bugger!" I can recognize my indebtedness to Field Marshal Kitchener.

File Kitchener 1.odt18.95 KB
File Kitchener 2.odt10.66 KB


Nehkhasi's picture

Cool and Very interesting!


KenInMaine's picture

Interesting and informative. Thanks for sharing!

Bill's picture

I'm unable to open those two attachments. I'm a mac person, and even photoshop doesn't recognize the .odt ending.

Just like those other famous ones: Duke of Wellington (boots), Earl Sandwich, Lord Raglan (sleeves). All fine military men.

Joe-in Wyoming's picture

I never knew the second poster had Kitchener as the model and the first one is new to me.

Books, knitting, cats, fountain pens...Life is Good.

kiwiknitter's picture

A Google images search shows many photos of him. He was a very handsome man.

Never trust a man who, when left alone in a room with a tea cozy, doesn't try it on.  ~Billy Connolly

cacunn's picture

 You Are the Manr


For those having problems viewing the pictures.

kiwiknitter's picture

Chris, Thank you for posting these for me. I couldn't figure out how to insert them into the body of the text nor to link the photos. I appreciate that you did this!

Never trust a man who, when left alone in a room with a tea cozy, doesn't try it on.  ~Billy Connolly