How to Work Duplicate Stitch

Published December 26, 2015 by estherknit

Duplicate Stitch is also called Swiss Darning. It is a type of embroidery which can replace Fair Isle knitting.  Duplicate stitch is a quick and simple method to apply motifs onto a finished garment, covering over the knitted fabric with a yarn of another colour.  The shape embroidered looks just like Fair Isle.  So, duplicate stitch is a simple and yet effective way of decorating garments after they have been knitted.

The design is embroidered after you have finished knitting.  It can be decorative or you can use duplicate stitch to cover knitting mistakes and weak spots. It was traditionally used to darn socks.  Knitting is an ideal base for embroidery, the vertical and horizontal lines acting as a guide for added decoration.  One stitch in duplicate stitch copies the exact outline of the knitted stitch beneath it and can be used for the addition of motifs that were intended to be knitted in. It is an embroidery technique where the embroidery yarn duplicates the knitted stitch.

letter D chart 2

It is worked row by row and stitch by stitch following a chart.  Naturally, this method is impractical for large areas of colour which are best knitted using the Intarsia method, also called picture knitting.  However, where small areas are involved it is an extremely useful adjunct to knitting.  Besides being added to plain work, duplicate stitch may also be used to introduce additional colours to Fair Isle or Intarsia work where it is not desirable to add them during the knitting stage.

Duplicate stitch should be worked with a blunt tapestry needle to avoid splitting the knitted stitches.  Use a yarn that is the same weight as that used for the knitting as a finer one will not cover the original stitch properly and a heavier one will give the work a raised or buckled appearance.  Follow the line of the stitches, keeping the tension of the embroidery stitch exactly the same as that of the knitting.

Work on a plain stockinette stitch base.  Thread a tapestry needle with yarn of same thickness of the one used for the garment.  Use a different coloured yarn to embroider.

DuplicateStitch 1

First Row

Begin at the top right of the motif.  Bring up the needle to right side of work through stitch below 1st stitch to be worked.  **  Insert needle at right of stitch just above.  Bring it up again on the left of this stitch.

DuplicateStitch 2

Insert needle in stitch below, where it first emerged. Bring up needle in next stitch to the left. **

DuplicateStitch 3

Repeat from ** to ** as many times as required.

2nd Row

After last stitch bring up needle through stitch below – not through left stitch.

DuplicateStitch 4

Turn the work.  Work from right to left as follows:  Insert needle at bottom right of stitch below and bring it up again at left of same stitch.  Insert needle through stitch above i.e. where it emerged to begin this 2nd row. After last stitch of 2nd row, bring up needle through stitch above and turn work.

letter D sample 2

Continue repeating 1st and 2nd rows. To work on a vertical line, begin at top of motif.  Make 1 stitch and bring up needle for next stitch through stitch below.  Repeat until the motif is complete.


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