Tutorial Tuesday: Duplicate stitch

Ok, so I have had this post in the oven for months now, and I really need to get it out. It is already Wednesday in New Zealand, but it is still Tuesday in some parts of the world, so I figured I can get away with it. You can see this is old, since I used the same pink Beiroa swatch from the post on lifelines from November. That said, let’s get to business.

So, what is duplicate stitch?

duplicate stitcha colourwork technique or the type of stitch applied in said technique, which allows to decorate knit fabric with a motive. It consists of embroidering stitches over the already existing knit stitches, which remain hidden behind the contrasting colour yarn used.

Although this somewhat improvised Knitionary definition may give the impression that duplicate stitch is complicated, to me it is the easiest way of adding colour to one’s knitting. This makes it the ideal technique for beginners to create their first colourwork project. Of course, having some previous experience in embroidery techniques, especially cross-stitch is an advantage.

Here is how it goes:

You’ll need 1)  a blunt yarn needle – the same you use for weaving in yarn ends should do – 2) contrasting colour yarn in the same or heavier weight than that of the knit fabric, 3) a design on your mind, and – preferably – on graph paper.

Also, if you’ve just finished knitting, it’s best to block your piece first (wash/dampen it and allow to dry).

Ready? Now, study your knit fabric. Notice the V shaped stitches that make up stockinette. These are what you’ll have to “duplicate”.

What is especially cool about duplicate stitch  is that it allows you to decorate a piece which is already finished, so in a way you can use this for afterthought personalization or simply to spice up a somewhat boring object. Note that contrasting colour duplicate stitches create a double thickness for the fabric, so they don’t blend into your work as Fair Isle proper. For this reason, I think it is best to use the technique to add smaller or compact motives, keeping in mind that the thicker your yarn, the more it will stand out. Oh, and if you don’t like the result, you can always simply remove your duplicate stitch motive.

duplicate stitch2.jpg

This image shows the way your needle and yarn has to travel to duplicate a knit stitch

And now, let’s see how it works:

  1. Starting from the wrong side pull the needle through the bottom of the first stitch you want to duplicate
  2. Insert the needle from right to left through both loops of the stitch above
  3. Pull the yarn through gently – now you’ll have the right “leg” of the stitch covered by the contrasting yarn
  4. Bring the needle through the same place you started the stitch, only, this time you go from the right side to the wrong side of the fabric – one stitch done!
  5. Pop the needle out through the bottom of the next stitch you want to cover
  6. Repeat 1-4 until finished

That easy!

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Now, in advancing with the motive to be embroidered on the knit fabric it is generally advised to go from left to right, and from the bottom to the top. However, depending on your motive, you might find that it is not necessarily straightforward to go in these directions. Don’t worry. Just keep duplicating stitches, and aim for your duplicates to stay even – don’t pull on the yarn too much.

In sum:

For horizontal stitches aim to go from left to right, i.e. once a stitch is finished, pull your needle through the bottom of the next stitch to the right.

For vertical stitches aim to go bottom up, i.e. once a you’ve finished a stitch, pull the needle through the bottom of the stitch right above.

And finally, some motivation:


On the right: Warm winter mitts by Anna and Heidi Pickles (free pattern)

On the left: The all so popular Giles Eek Hat by WTG also uses duplicate stitch!

Tips: Blocking board

This morning I’ve finally blocked my Carpino sweater. It was high time, since it had been off the needles for a few weeks now. I just hadn’t had an appropriate surface to pin in to.

The day before yesterday I spent some time online looking at options, prices and alternatives. This is one frustrating thing about our new housing situation: I can’t no longer get my bike and cycle to check out what they have in LYS or DIY shops, like in good old Europe. Plus I’m not allowed to drive on my license, so I’m left with asking Chan to drive me around to look for silly knitting supply, so I’d better get a good idea about where to go…


My research led to conclude that whatever they sell as “official” blocking boards are generally quite pricey for what they are. I also found this blog post (and other similar ones) explaining how to make a DIY blocking board with squares allowing to easily measure the extended piece. While the idea seems great, at this point I didn’t feel like investing this much energy. Eventually I decided that I will just look for the same – or similar – foam mat various knitting brands sell, only outside of the knitting realm. And voilà, I came across a foam floor mat in Mitre10 for 24 NZD.

And they work like a dream. The four pieces fit together are more than big enough for a sweater, and I think, maybe arranged differently, they should a shawl too. Thanks to the ongoing warm summer weather my Carpino is already almost dry, so I’m as happy as one can be.

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Tutorial Thursday: Free patterns online

I did start to write a post for this week’s Tutorial Tuesday, but I was in some serious lack of inspiration to finish it. Plus, I used up some of the precious tutorial writing time on getting a friend started on knitting her first hat! So that was Tutorial Tuesday Live!

For today’s post, however, it has occurred to me to speak about free patterns and how to find them, which is also kind of tutorially… So, Tutorial Thursday.

All knitters love free patterns, I think (oh, how much, we’d love free yarn… ;)) I was especially desperate to find them when I was starting out, as I didn’t have much idea of how to knit anything, but I also didn’t really feel like making an investment on something I wasn’t really sure whether I was ever going to finish. The thing, though, is that when you are new to knitting, you are also new to knitting resources, so it took me a while to figure out things beyond Google searches usually directing to personal blogs of truly generous craft and knitting enthusiasts. So here are some ideas of where to look, as well as some specific places I’ve found really worthwhile:

Knitting blogs:

I’m so amazed at how social knitting is! Yes, it can be a lonely and meditative activity, curled up on your couch stitching away in silence. But for many, knitting is also about showing your talent to the world, sharing your experience and getting to know people. Many of us may not have real life knitter friends, but we do have online friends and acquaintances. Plus, there are incredible people who do put a lot of energy into sharing knowledge, techniques and creating a community.

For instance, I made my very first pompom beanie following the instructions from the Spanish blog Ohmothermine! and some other places I unfortunately didn’t bookmark, and can no longer remember. In any case, you can often Google a given technique or type of project and find detailed explanations.


My two Fringe Hatalong beanies

For bloggers and designers it is also common to set up so called Knitalong (KAL) events, where a given pattern or set of patterns is proposed to be knit together with the followers of the site. This can be really engaging as well as helpful, since you can ask for advice, share your advance, and ultimately, learn loads from other knitters. One such initiative is the Hatalong series proposed by the Fringe Association blog, while the Spanish Things to Knit blog invites readers for monthly challenges providing either the translated version of a free English language pattern or a pattern designed by the author.


If you are a knitter and you don’t have a Ravelry account, you’ve simply got to have one. Ravelry is knitters’ heaven and hell at the same time. Heaven because you can find literally anything – yarn info, patterns, designers, you name it – and hell because you just cannot get off it. It is relatively easy to spend/waste precious knitting hours browsing patterns and projects and just marvelling on other people’s creativity.


Finding free patterns on Ravelry is easy. Once you hop on the pattern tab and carry out a search, all you have to do is tick the box next to “Free” in the window with the heading “Availability” on the left side, et voilà. You’ll probably have more than enough to look at and to get lost. My recommendation is that, before settling on something, you should also checkout the projects that have been made of a given pattern. This may give you a more realistic picture of what you are in for, as well as some yarn and colour ideas, and tips on what may go wrong.  

Websites of yarn brands, yarn shops and designers:

Yarn brands, yarn shops and designers have to promote themselves, and what better way to do this than to offer free goodies. My first “serious” knitting project was the Aidez sweater by Cirilia Rose offered for free by Berroco. I truly believe that had this not been a free pattern, I would have never embarked on the journey – thinking that there might not have been a point in buying an actual knitting pattern I quite possibly cannot make sense of. This adventure, however, taught me that knitting patterns are not written in undecipherable code, and that all is more easier than it seems – or at least worth trying.

Besides the Berroco pattern library, other good resources of free patterns are the Purl Soho website, which features modern and, for my delight, colourful designs, and the web of the Drops yarn brand, where patterns are published in multiple languages (even in Hungarian!). A brand new discovery of mine is Pickles yarn,  who publish really cool free patterns in Norwegian. I think Google Translate might be able to solve the language barrier, although, they also seem to be selling English language patterns for a modest price of 2$.

Online knitting magazines

I’m not at all knowledgeable on this ground, but quite recently I’ve come across Knitty, an online knitting magazine that appears to be completely free.  As a matter of fact, I found them while browsing colourwork sweaters on Ravelry, and found the Oranje Cardigan by Ann Weaver I’m quite keen on at the moment.


The Oranje cardigan. Photo by Ann Weaver.

So, I’ve told you about a bunch of free knitting goodness, and I’m sure this is not even a fraction of what you might already be familiar with. Some concluding remarks are in order though.

There is much out there that is free, and, as I’ve already said, this is pretty awesome not only because it’s free, but also because it can kind of give us a push to get out of our comfort zone and try the “impossible”. However, we should not forget that designers also have to make a living. Hence, while I obviously do appreciate free give-away patterns and KALs, I urge you to keep this in mind, and thank these wonderful people for their efforts by paying their work.

Another point is that I think as we grow as knitters, we do all realize that what we want is to knit, and to knit the exact thing we like, instead of a compromise. After all, knitting takes up much of our free time, so it’s best to do it wisely. In this sense investing in the right pattern(s) is an investment in our time and enjoyment.