Duplicate Stitch, or Swiss Darning as it is sometimes called, is a decorative stitch usually worked over stockinette stitch. Its basic concept is in its name: You sew over your finished knitting with a contrast color, “duplicating” the original stitches. It’s easier than Fair Isle or intarsia, and best of all, Duplicate Stitch can be an after-thought, when you think you’ve finished something and it’s just not quite enough!
For your duplicate stitches, you’ll probably want to use yarn that is either the same as the knitting yarn you used or thicker. Thinner yarn won’t cover the knit stitches as well.
A good method for planning out your strategy is to mark the stitches you’re going to “duplicate” with an erasable fabric pen. Winging it is fine too!
Here, we work the Duplicate Stitch over the “A” oriented stitches, rather the “V” oriented ones. This was simply a design decision, but either way, the technique is the same. You can find some visuals and tips for working over the “V” stitches at the end of this tutorial.
First, cut a length of yarn no longer than 24 inches (longer and the yarn will probably start to look a bit ratty from being sewn so many times!). Thread it onto a tapestry needle.
Bring your needle from the back of the work to the front through the top point of a stitch, or an “A.” (Leave a 6-inch tail in the back so you can weave it in at the end.)
Next, cross the needle under the stitch BELOW the one you are duplicating.
To finish that stitch, insert the needle back into the top of the “A” (the same place where you began), and at the same time, begin the next stitch by exiting the needle at its top point. One stitch duplicated and ready for the next one!
The next step is always to cross the needle under the stitch below the one you’re duplicating.
And then, no matter what direction you need to move in, you always finish a stitch by inserting the needle into its top and begin the next stitch by exiting the needle at its top.
Here’s what finishing a stitch and starting a new one looks like if you’re moving up a vertical column…
Sometimes when you cross the needle under the below stitch, you’ll have to sew under both the original stitch and the duplicate stitch. That’s okay!
As you work, don’t pull the yarn too tight or it will thin out and not adequately cover the knit stitches. Try to keep a loose, but even, tension.
When you run out of yarn, weave the tail into the back of the work and start a new length of yarn.
Keep going until you’re done!
To work duplicate stitch over the “V” stitches, you simply start at the bottom point of the stitch…
…and bring the needle under the stitch ABOVE the one you’re duplicating.
We used duplicate stitch for our Monogrammed Hats for Everyone, a very basic hat with the perfect opportunity to practice your new skill!
These charts show you how to make the entire alphabet in duplicate stitch. They are based on a gauge of 3 stitches to the inch. If you use them on knitting that’s in a different gauge, they may be proportioned differently, but give it a try!