Do you love duplicate stitch for weaving in ends? Then read on! This versatile technique serves at least three solid purposes for knitters.
1. It's a great way to weave in yarn tails on the wrong side of a project. It secures the tails, hides them neatly, and is a perfect choice when you don't have a seam to weave them into. But there's more...
2. It can save time when you make a mistake in stranded knitting. If you worked one stitch in a wrong color, or if you were off on an entire row and don't notice the mistake until much later, instead of ripping back you can use duplicate stitch in the correct color to fix the mistake. The application is the same as decorative duplicate stitch which is worked on the right side of the fabric that has been completed usually in stockinette stitch. On the right side of the fabric the needle/yarn follows the flow of the stitches in the fabric and lies directly on top of each stitch, effectively covering it with a different color.
3. The last application isn't about hiding or fixing, but it very visible and just for fun... The creative part of duplicate stitch is endless. "Write" your name, initial, or a message into the visible part of a garment, or in the hem. Use it to create images, motifs, or to add little flourishes to a finished project.
The direction in which you move across your knitting, and the direction in which you insert your needle determines how successful your duplicate stitch will be. Moving the wrong way creates gaps and twisted stitches.
How to form a Duplicate Stitch
1. Thread onto a tapestry needle a contrasting color yarn of the same or similar weight as the knitted yarn. This is most easily done over a background of plain stockinette stitch that has been blocked. Insert needle from back to front in the center hole at the bottom of the V-shaped stitch that is to be knitted over.
2. Insert the needle from right to left through both loops of the stitch directly above.
3. Insert needle from front to back into the same center hole at the bottom of the V-shaped stitch. Pull yarn slightly to take up any slack. You've successfully covered one stitch.
To move horizontally while duplicate stitching, insert needle from back to front in the center hole at the bottom of the V-shaped stitch that lies immediately to the left (or right, depending on which direction you’re moving) of the stitch you just duplicated. If you’re moving from right to left, after inserting needle through center hole, insert needle from right to left (same direction as you’re moving) through both loops of the stitch directly above. If you’re moving from the left to the right, insert needle from left to right through both loops of the stitch directly above, to avoid twisted stitches. Always insert needle through both loops at the top in the same direction that you're moving!
If you worked a row from right to left, and inserted needle from right to left through both loops of the stitch above, when you start a new row and work in another direction. For example, move up a row and work back across from left to right by inserting the needle from left to right through both loops across this row.
To move diagonally, after completing one stitch, insert needle from back to front in the center hole at the bottom of the V-shaped stitch that lies 1 row higher and 1 stitch to the left (or right) to form a diagonal line. To avoid twisting stitches, if your diagonal line slants from the right to the left and you’re working from the right to the left, then insert needle from right to left through both loops of the stitch directly above. You want to be mindful of the direction in which you’re stitching and keep the needle moving across the stitches in the same direction as the flow of stitches. Avoid going against the movement. This consistent movement prevents stitches from twisting.
When moving straight up and down, create a duplicate stitch the same way we did above (steps 1-3). Then bring the needle down one row and insert from back to front into the center hole of the next V-shaped stitch (if you are working from top to bottom). For this stitch, on one row down, insert needle from left to right through both loops of the stitch directly above, then insert needle from front to back into the same center hole that you came out of. Tug yarn gently. To move down a third row, insert needle from back to front of the center hole of the V-shaped stitch that lies directly below. Insert needle from right to left through both loops of the stitch directly above, then insert from front to back into the same center hold you came out of. When working vertically, by alternating left to right, then right to left through both loops, you can avoid twisting stitches.
Another way to avoid twisting the stitches is to make sure you weave in the yarn tails in the same direction as the flow of yarn. Do not back track and weave in the yarn tails over the part just worked. Continue weaving in the same direction as you knitted.
The cool thing about decorative duplicate stitch, is that you don't need a pattern. You can write over any part of your knitting in any color your want. Add a little heart to a plain sweater. Write a child's name in the folded under hem of sweater. Add a snowflake to a hat. Add a couple of rounds of Fair Isle motifs to stockinette mitts...the possibilities are endless!
Buss, Katharina. Big Book of Knitting. New York, NY: Sterling Publishing Co., 2001.
Hiatt, June Hemmons. The Principles of Knitting. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster, 1988.
Mates, Kathryn. “Keys to Successful Duplicate Stitch.” Cast On Feb-Apr 2008: pp. 58-59.
Vogue Magazine Editors. Vogue Knitting. New York, NY: Sixth & Spring Books, 2002.
Hello! I'm Donna Estin, knitwear designer, certified master knitter and instructor. I enjoy designing artistic knitwear that is comfortable. I specialize in sweaters with a contemporary silhouette.