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Duplicate Stitch

I made these slipper socks from a pattern in Leigh Radford's book, One Skein. True to the name, the socks only required one skein of Lorna's Shepherd Worsted Superwash Wool. (The background fabric is from Kokka's Trefle collection, the print is Lilac Ladybugs).

These socks are intended as a gift, so I felt like jazzing them up a little. Besides attaching an I-cord to the cuff, I also embellished the heels with some hearts done in Duplicate Stitch.

Duplicate Stitch, or Swiss Darning as it is sometimes called, is a really simple way to add personality to a project. The basic concept of Duplicate Stitch is in its name. You sew over your finished knitting with a contrast color, "duplicating" the original knit stitches. It's much easier than fair-isling or intarsia. And, wonderfully, Duplicate Stitch can be an after-thought, when you think you've finished something and it's just not quite enough.

Here's a step by step how-to:

If you want to plan out your strategy, a good method is to mark the stitches you're going to "duplicate" with an erasable fabric pen. Otherwise, you can just wing it...


Bring your needle from the back of the work to the front through the bottom point of a stitch, or a "V". (Leave a generous tail in the back so you can weave it in at the end.)


 Next, thread the needle across the stitch ABOVE the one you are dupicating.


And then insert the needle back into the bottom of the "V", the same place where you began. One stitch duplicated!


Do the same thing for the next stitch. Start at its bottom point, sew across the stitch above it, and back down your starting place.


If you want to duplicate vertically adjacent stitches, you'll have to sew under both the original stitch and the duplicate stitch. That's ok.


Keep going until you're done.


Try other simple drawings, letters, meandering lines, flecks of color, or whatever-else-you-can-imagine.  So easy. So satisfying.

Reader Comments (24)

The answer to my prayers. I have been struggling with duplicate stitch on a pair of socks from Lucy Neatby.
November 1, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterAvice
You have just changed my life. Using an erasable fabric marker...brilliant!
November 1, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterCourtney Suzanne
That is the easiest tutorial for duplicate stitch I've ever seen! I have no idea why I was afraid of it...
thank you!!
November 1, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterKristin
Thank you thank you thank you! I think I'll finally try this soon :)
November 1, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterChristina
That is brilliant to use the marker pen - so much easier to do the stitching if you don't have to watch the pattern at the same time.

Thank you!
November 26, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterCynthia
Ok, I am totally in love and DEFINITELY will be doing this on one of my next projects !! :) :)
December 18, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterColey
Thank you! I've tried duplicate stitch before based on written instructions and my results were less than satisfactory. There were always parts I couldn't quite visualize. I can't wait to use my new understanding.
March 19, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterT2
Thanks so much for doing this tute! The pen marks on the stitch itself showed me how I was going wrong. My project turned out amazing! :)
October 6, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterLilBean
Thank you sooooo much! I am new to this knitting thing but am trying to make Christmas presents. This was a wonderful tutorial!
November 8, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterashley
Oh thank you, thank you for having a simple (with very good illustrations!) tutorial for duplicate stitch. This is going to be MUCH easier for me than trying to writing in intarsia.
November 22, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterrecoveringactor
This is wonderful... but what happened to the other photos? :(
November 22, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterbecky
Thanks so much for the tutorial on duplicate stitch! It is very helpful! I am a long time knitter, but one who has never tackled intricate Christmas stockings because they looked too complicated. This year I am completing one for a new member of our family, thanks to your easy instructions.
December 7, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterDiana
Oh my gosh!! Thank you so much for this terrific tutorial! I am making Twilight (the movie) socks for my daughter and I have been having a very difficult time making the stitches....come to find out I have been trying to make these up side down! No wonder I have been having so much trouble making it look nice!
Now I have to frog the other sock, because it will be opposite this sock!!! At least it will finally look like it's supposed to.
March 30, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLeisa
"So easy. So satisfying" is right! Last week I spent an entire morning trying to figure this out and failed miserably. This morning, I stitched a whole name onto the stocking in question in about an hour. Thanks for posting such clear instructions (and photos!).
November 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterBecca
This is such a perfect explanation! I promise that the next pattern or anything else crafty I buy will be one of yours. Scout's honor.
March 27, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCrystal
I love your site! Im doing a watermelon hat pattern involving duplicate stitching for the seeds, is it ok to link?
April 13, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterpuggerhugger
Hi! I am a new knitter, and I read somewhere that duplicate stitching must be done over a stockinette stitch. Is this true, or could I use this method for duplicate stitching over a garter stitch? Thank you so much for this tutorial, I found it very helpful and easy to follow!
November 25, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCrystal
Hi Crystal,

I've never done duplicate stitching on garter stitch before, but I did find this step by step tutorial for you to try: It doesn't look as versatile as stockinette stitch for creating images but may be great for simple patterns!

Good luck and thanks for your question!
November 30, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterpurlbee
Thanks so much for such easy directions. Although I have been knitting many, many years, I have never tried to Duplicate stitch yet and this has been a god sent. Thanks again.
January 3, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBillie Jo
Thank you very much for the link for duplicate stitching on top of a garter stitch, I will be sure to try it out.... in the meantime I used your 'heart' stitch pattern on a pair of leg warmers for my one year old niece and they turned out great! Thanks again!
February 8, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCrystal
Thank you so much - so simple! Battled with other instructions for over an hour last night. This took 5 mins! Magical ;-)
July 16, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAlison
When do you recommend blocking a garment with a duplicate stitch? Before, or after adding the duplicate stitch? Thank you for this clear instructions and images!!

December 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMelissa
HI Melissa,

I suppose It depends on the state of your knitting. If your stitches are quite uneven, then you might want to do a round of blocking before you add the duplicate stitching, but if your stitches look good, I think it's fine to just start right in with the duplicate stitch. Either way, duplicate stitch does benefit from a final blocking.

Thanks for asking!
December 6, 2012 | Registered Commenterpurl bee
and I finally understood what a duplicate stitch is and how to do it, thank you very much!
Your pictures and explanations are the best, again thanks for these great tutorials :)
June 9, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAna Cepeda

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