The Magic of Duplicate Stitch

While I was finishing up knitting the Flurries Cowl for knitscene, I noticed that I had made some mistakes in the stranded colorwork way back at the beginning. I wanted to fix them before I sent in the sample, of course, but I did not have time to rip back to the beginning. Duplicate stitch to the rescue!

duplicate stitch

Let me show you how you, too, can use this magic technique to fix errors in your stranded colorwork. You can also use duplicate stitch to add colorwork after knitting when you do not want to use stranding while you’re knitting. This technique is especially helpful for small bits of color that are not worked all over, such as words, faces on dolls, and little-used third colors in Fair Isle patterns.

The technique is called duplicate stitch because you will be duplicating stitches that you have already knitted. However, instead of using knitting needles, you’ll use a tapestry needle threaded with the correct color to trace over the stitches of the wrong color to correct them.

Step by Step
Here are the actual errors in my Flurries Cowl; as you can see, I made several. I’ll show you how to use duplicate stitch to fix this square (Photo 1).

duplicate stitch

Step 1: Thread the correct color yarn onto the tapestry needle. From the back of the fabric, bring the needle up into the bottom of the stitch to be fixed (Photo 2).

duplicate stitch

Step 2: Trace the stitch by taking the tapestry needle behind both legs of the stitch above (Photo 3).

duplicate stitch
Step 3:
Take the needle back into the fabric at the same place it entered, completing the stitch (Photos 4 and 5).

duplicate stitch

duplicate stitch

If you’re fixing multiple stitches, bring the needle back out at the base of the V of the next stitch to the left to begin the next duplicate stitch. Repeat for as many stitches as you need to fix (Photo 6).

duplicate stitch

You can work duplicate stitch either horizontally, like I did with the Flurries Cowl, or vertically. Vertical duplicate stitch is worked in a similar fashion. Begin at lowest point and work as for horizontal duplicate stitch, but end by bringing the needle back out at the base of the stitch directly above the stitch just worked. Repeat these steps across the area you are working (Figure 1).

duplicate stitch

Have you tried using duplicate stitch to fix your colorwork mistakes? How else have you used duplicate stitch?


Heather Zoppetti lives and works in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, with her husband and yarn collection. She’s the owner of Stitch Sprouts and can be found online at www.hzoppettidesigns.com and www.stitchsprouts.com.


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One Comment

  1. Anne H at 4:37 pm December 6, 2017

    I have used duplicate stitch for making a snowflake on the back of a mitt.

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