Knitting Help – Intarsia vs Duplicate Stitch

In this video, I hope to answer a few different
questions I get all the time about adding a design to your knitting. That’s the easiest
way I can put it. The people are usually asking me questions about Intarsia and I think that
the question I get most often is, “How can I add this sports logo to this hat I want
to knit for my kid?” That’s a question I get all the time. And it’s kind of such a long
answer that I wanted to make this video to cover it. Because Intarsia and what I’m talking
about is a blob of knitting, a blob of color, in a background of another color. Again, the
way I’m describing things, makes it sounds like there’s something wrong with me, but
Intarsia is very different from Fair Isle, in that a color runs all the way through Fair
Isle. And Fair Isle is knit in the round, so you carry two colors all the way around
Fair Isle and there are little bits of those two colors going all the way around. The difference
with Intarsia is, Intarsia, like I said, is a blob of color on a background of something
else. And to get back to the questions that I’m asked all the time, Intarsia doesn’t work
in the round. So if someone’s looking to make a hat with a sports logo on it – and we’re
pretending this heart is a sports logo, at this point – it doesn’t really work. Because
when you’re knitting in the round, you will knit up to the place where you’ll start with
the other color and knit across the other color. And then start working in the background
color, and then when you get back to the blob of color, your yarn is going to be over here
when you want to start knitting over here. Now that explanation, you don’t have to really
understand that to understand what I’m saying. Intarsia, doesn’t work in the round. You can
start and cut and start and cut the yarn each time to make Intarsia work in the round. And
I’ve seen some explanations of things that don’t really make sense to me, about working
Intarsia in the round. And it’s okay, because I have a better answer. Duplicate stitch is
the answer, and it’s what I end up using for everything that would either be a flat piece
of knitting with Intarsia on it, or anytime I want to add what looks like Intarsia, I
end up using Duplicate stitch. But, I’m going to show you how to work Intarsia, in case
you’re curious about how it works. There’s nothing wrong with it, I just prefer doing
Duplicate stitch. So we’re going to talk about both of those things. So let’s go and take
a look at my work. Okay, my end goal is to end up with something like this. So I have
to have this piece going here, and this is Intarsia, and again there’s nothing wrong
with the technique. I think it’s kind of a pain on the neck to work. But I’m going to
show you how this goes, how to work it. I have three balls of yarn going right now,
because I have the gray over here, the pink in the middle, and the gray over here and
there has to be three different balls going. Oh, I should show you this. This is the chart
that I’m working from for the little heart, and I’ll make this available on my website
if you want to click the little eye in the upper right-hand corner. I will make this
chart available, if you want to make a little heart. I’m going to knit up to the place where I
want to start using the pink yarn and because these are essentially two different pieces
of kitting, the pink yarn and the gray yarn, I want to connect them somehow. So I’m going
to wrap the pink and the gray, twist them together so that they’re kind of hanging onto
each other like this, so there’s no gap in the work there. Then I’m going to knit across,
tighten everything up a bit, knit across the pink, until I get to the next gray piece.
And again, because these two aren’t connected in any way, I’m going to twist the gray and
the pink together and then finish with the gray and tighten everything up a bit. So that’s
the Fair Isle technique. You can imagine that this is a very simple example, but if you’re
working on something that is lots of different colors and a much more complicated design
then this, there’s a lot of twisting going on, and a lot of different balls of yarns
going on at once. That’s why I like to use Duplicate stitch, because there are also…The
last part of it…I’m trash talking Intarsia. I don’t mean to. I kind of mean to. There’s
also such a chance of getting tension issues going between the two colors or three colors
or five colors or whatever. I want to show you how to work Duplicate stitch,
which is like the easiest answer to this. So I’m going to get myself some pink yarn.
And I’m having a tough time. I didn’t have this ready, sorry. I’m going to cut myself
some pink yarn and a tapestry needle. Duplicate stitch is essentially embroidering onto your
knitted work so that it looks just like knit stitches. So I was able to knit this swatch
completely plain. I knit it so quickly, just completely plain, and now I’m going to go
back over and make it look like I stitched Intarsia into it. I’ve already marked the
stitch where I want to start. It’s only to save time in the video, so you wouldn’t have
to watch me count. It’s this stitch. So I’m coming in from back to front at the bottom
of a V. That’s where I want to start, this V is going to be my first stitch. Now I skip
that V and go behind both legs of the stitch above it. Pull that and then go back down
into the hole I just came out of. Tah dah! Look at that beautiful little stitch. Looks
like I knitted in. Now, I’m following this chart so I want to
go to the next stitch, which is over here. You start by going from back to front at the
bottom point of the stitch that you want to put the Duplicate stitch. Everything is falling
apart, sorry. So I skip that stitch, go behind both legs of the stitch above it and then
back down into the same hole I came out off. Come in at the bottom of the next stitch,
skip that, go behind both legs of the stitch above it, and back down. You definitely want
to watch your tension because this is decorative. If you see something that’s too tight – like
that, I just made that one crazy tight – you can just take your needle and loosen it up.
If you see something that is too loose, you can tighten it all the way across to make
it match the other stitches. Just really watch each stitch as you’re doing it to make sure
that it looks like the ones next to it. I have a good start here on the very bottom
of the heart. So, I hope you can see how easy Duplicate
stitch is and you can have so many colors going. As long as you have a chart for the
sports team logo, or the initial or whatever you’re working with, as long as you have a
chart that you can work from, just getting the stitches in there and making the Duplicate
stitch is really easy. And for someone who just wants to knit a hat and embroider the
design on after the fact, that’s really the answer. I don’t want to trash talk Intarsia
to much, because it’s a valid knitting technique that people really enjoy. I just don’t. So
I wanted to show you this video. Anyway, good luck with this. Yeah, good luck.

87 thoughts on “Knitting Help – Intarsia vs Duplicate Stitch

  • "I am trash talking intarsia… I don't mean to… I kinda mean to," hahaha that made me laugh. I haven't attempted intarsia myself but from the videos I have watched explaining the technique it looks like a pain in the butt. I can't imagine how you would keep all the little balls of yarn from getting tangled in a larger project, like a patterned sweater. Definitely trying duplicate stitch! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Oh my goodness you are so funny "I'm trash talking Intarsia I don't mean to ….I kinda mean too!" Haaaaa! Thank you for the option!

  • I don't mind you trash talking intarsia. It makes me feel better about myself because I HATE it, personally.

  • Hey i love intarsia! ๐Ÿ˜œ And I also like duplicate stitch (although it has its own set of issues). I added a Green Bay Packer logo to a Christmas stocking (your pattern!) using a free web tool and duplicate stitch.

  • My 13 year old daughter doesn't like knitting but loves needlework. I am going to give her some of my work and let her go crazy with her own ideas. Thank you for sharing! I have been knitting for a couple of years and your videos are always a good to. I taught myself using YouTube and between you and Judy I caught on pretty fast. Thank you!

  • Thank you for this…LOVE the down to earth talk and now i think i will stop trying to do "intarsia" and get it right… you've shown me exactly where to go to do DS correctly..:))

  • I remember my aunties / relatives who knit intricate designs (mainly socks, Xmas stockings ) with little spools of different colors hanging off their projects like Olympic medals. I could never quite get to that level of patience .
    I always felt duplicate stitch was "cheating ". Lol. Thanks for validating it. ๐Ÿ˜ƒ

  • I have knit intarsia and am an advanced beginner , it was quite interesting but very tough , all of the new colors hanging off your project. I knitted a sailboat in intarsia and thought I was going nuts , ha!!

  • I really liked how you tried to not trash talk Intarsia! I thought you were just being honest. I have never tried it but honestly, it looks like a pain in the ass…! (: Thanks for the video.

  • Ugh I made this intarsia shawl/wrap once. Some Southwestern-looking motif. You look at it and think, "Oh those blocks of color are huge, I won't need that many changes." Before you know it, just based on a little change in shape, you've got a dozen bobbins hanging down and you want to set yourself on fire. It was too big of course for duplicate stitch — that'd have taken years — but it was enough to tell me I don't really need to ever do intarsia again.

  • I've been watching all your old videos (the duplicate stitch one too) that I didn't recognize you with the long hair! I like it. Good videos.

  • Thanks for showing us this! I think this is awesome! Now, I want to make some dish cloths to use the duplicate stitch on now. I'm a novice knitter so I'm holding off learning the intarsia technique for a while.

  • Hahaha. I love you! I'm using this technique from now on! (I knit the Norwegian way, but enjoy your vids so much that I just adapt everything, just to have fun and laugh while I'm listening to you.) Thx. Knitting and crocheting are my long loved therapy. And learning from you is such a pleasure. Big hug from Colombia.

  • How do you finish when you're done with the pattern? Do you just tie a knot in the back of the work or something? Do you have a preferred method for securing the duplicate stitch ends when you're finished?

  • I totally agree with you Staci, I do prefer duplicate stitch to Intarsia. However, my only issue with it it's I never know how much yarn I need to complete the design. I always end up with a couple of tails in the middle of it, and that is really annoying. Thanks for this video!

  • Yes that's why many years ago I gave up working intarsia. I embroider whatever graphics I want on the knitted fabric. If I just want to add a graphic to the fabric, embroidery (or double stitch as you said) is easier to manage as well as tidy and neat. But I wonder if there is useful technique or effect, if any, only for intarsia.

  • Hi, Staci! I hate intarsia, too, and would love to just do duplicate stitch whenever intarsia is called for in a pattern. Have you ever had issues with the duplicate stitches shifting or moving in such a way that the yarn underneath shows, and the design starts looking somewhat muddled? If not, . . . I may very well never do intarsia again! ๐Ÿ˜‰ Thanks for your advice and your wonderful videos.

  • I've never done it but know of some who have worked intarsia in the round by slipping the stitches of the colour piece and then purling the yarn back across the colour piece. That section is then slipped again for that row. When you come to the colour piece again, the yarn is in the correct place. So, you knit round on the odd rows and do the slip/purl/slip for the colourwork on the even rows.

  • I want to make this for the fiona baby sundress i knitted but i am not clear how to do the top of the heart. Can you do a video on that? I'm relatively new at knitting trying difficult techniques… thank you. I love your work and am a big fan.


    I have been working on a pair of socks with an intarsa pattern on-and-off for almost a year (after months of struggling with the heels I found your GSR heel video earlier this year and I finally finished the foot part!!)

    I have an attempt, get frustrated by how bad/loose/bunched-up the colour work looks (even twisting the yarns didnโ€™t help), rip it out and put it away for another couple of months! I had thought of Swiss darning the pattern in, but found the thought of it pretty daunting. Iโ€™m sure this video has helped lots, Thanks ๏Š

  • I am very new to knitting (life long crocheter) and I love your videos!!!! Please don't ever stop making them. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Please can i ask you a question off topic of your video ? I'm francophone and try to use patterns in English but sometimes I don't understand some explanations like here on one pattern:
    On round 16: k1 st to last needle, * k2, yo, k3tog, yo, k2, yo, k2, yo, k3tog, yo, k1, k 1st st of next needle onto same needle , yo,
    What I've not understood is:
    K1 st to last needle ? And
    K1st st of next needle onto same needle ?
    I would be very grateful if you help me understand

  • Thanks ever so! I do not enjoy intarsia, so you can trash-talk it to your heart's delight. This is the 1st video on duplicate stitch which makes sense — so THANK YOU! Now I have to find a project where I can embroider little pink hearts…or maybe a little red maple leaf (for Canadian content, eh?)….

  • I love love love your videos. Can you possibly make a video on how to read charts and pattern abbreviations please.

  • I love duplicate stitch. It's an easy way to even create designs "as you go", because you're just going one stitch at a time. Just be sure to use yarn that is close in weight. A fingering yarn over a bulky yarn will look strange, unless that's the look you're going for ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • Perfect timing I've been driving myself crazy in trying to make this hat for my husband with his school logo. This video was a life saver, thank you!

  • I have been struggling with intarsia for so long thinking it was the 'right' way, and getting so frustrated with 'carrying yarn over' and the messiness on the wrong side. Thank you so much for this!

  • Question about duplicate stitch: when you have a very large design to put onto a piece, would you suggest using longer lengths of yarn so you have fewer ends to weave in, or shorter lengths with more ends to weave? I figured longer would be better because I'm not great at weaving in ends, however my yarn keeps getting tangled and I'm about ready to snap. Or, are there any tips or tricks to prevent the yarn from tangling when using longer pieces?

  • Oh my goodness. This is so helpful. I was actually struggling with one of my projects. I'm going to do this Duplicate Stitch. Thank you for this video.

  • Would the double stitch technique work on a garter stitch swatch? I'm making a baby blanket with a modified ten stitch pattern and am wondering about adding designs once the background is finished. I'm also not as experienced as some, partly because I had to reinvent the wheel when learning the knit and purl stitches so I'm only just now getting into proper patterning and shaping during my knitting.

    If you need my method for knitting to answer I simply add an extra twist when slipping the stitch onto the needle before pulling it through. This effectively creates a half hitch knot around the needle before pulling it through. This allows me to work in the dark and work around my thick fingers without loosing the trend. It also makes paying attention to anything that isn't knit or purl stitch slightly more important until I've gotten the hang of it. My method definitely reduces slipage and you have to be careful about tension.

  • I've done intarsia on a hat and basically I had to knit it "flat" while attaching the ends through some really convoluted twisting. it ended up having holes which i had to weave in my ends to try to cover it up. it was a learning experience, and I probably should have had A LOT more experience with knitting before I got into it.

  • For intarsia in the round, what about having different yarns for even/odd rows? I suppose there is a high potential for tangling/confusion, and probably not worth it, but I'm wondering if it would work. (I'm a newbie so I can't yet visualize this sort of thing.)

  • Well, that is a great video. I am doing a hockey logo on a sweater, not in the round. The first try was colour pattern knitting which seemed so loose. Tore it out and tried the fair isle knitting which made the logo design bumpy ( I think some of the back strands were too tight). Not happy! Going to give duplicate stitch a try. Three times and out!!

  • Love the duplicate ! Thanks for making things so easy. However… I've been trying to work a big heart (intarsia) into a baby blanket and I can't freaking figure out how to start the heart. I completely understand the starting a new colour, crossing yarns, etc. BUT when I start the tip of the heart it doesn't come out all cute and shaped like your example. It has 2 long starting stitches on the bottom. Instead of a gradual "v", well, for lack of a better explanation, it looks more like a penis, lol. Please help.

    | | | |
    | |

    I can't seem to figure out what I'm doing wrong. If you could show/tell how you started, It'd be greatly appreciated !!!

    Much love. xo

  • Thanks for help! I was trying to figure out how to add a picture like in fair isle w/o carrying the strands around the width of the hat. Worked great ๐Ÿ™‚ Love your videos!

  • I laughed too! This was so funny as well as informative! I guess what I've done in the past is Intarsia. Now I'm doing Fair Isle as I am knitting in the round. I'll have to give duplicate stitch a try! Again, too funny!! Thanks. Laughter is always a good thing!

  • Wow, this has saved me so much labour – I was about to start trying to learn intarsia for a commission – no need! This is going to be so much easier, thank you!

  • Thank you so much!! This is so much easier and a great answer to patterns! I'm looking forward to trying it and see what the back looks like in both actually.

  • Could you use one or both of these techniques and follow a crochet graphghan pattern to make a blanket or something like that with a picture in it? The heart you used seemed to be basically the same as the graphs I've seen for corner to corner and graphghans in crochet but the duplicate stitch seems like it would be so much easier, would use a lot less yarn and it would be easier to make a smaller blanket while making the same image. What do you think?

  • I just made a hat for my nephew using intarsia (who knew?) and it was a giant pain! I'm so glad I found this video explaining the difference and how to duplicate stitch. I think that hat will be remade. Thanks for your clear instructions and great sense of humor!

  • I'm chuckling at how she talk about intarsia, because I've done it, and it really is a pain. But with this, putting paw prints on stuff is going to be so much easier.

  • THANK YOU! this video is awesome! I wasn't aware of this technique, and it's funny because it once crossed my mind of embroidering a knitted piece. You have literally opened a star gate into a new dimension for me!!! ๐Ÿ˜„

  • I am just about 25% into a hat that said to use intarsia for its pattern and I got here thinking this can't be the only way to do it, it's sooo tedious! Thank you much for this video, that hat's getting a do over!

  • I did it with 5 balls of yarn it sucked. Next time I'll use this looks so much faster. And you can trash talk a technique if you want to, it's allowed.

  • I am knitting a sweater right now that uses intarsia. I did not know what that was called but I ended up making 7 balls of yarn to use for a mini diamond in my cardigan. It is nice to learn intarsia but it is a lot of yarn to untwist in the end.

  • i try intarsia for me it s a pain, i won t knit it again loose to much time trying to do it correctly with the right tension

  • I have two questions. Does it matter if you work the motif zig -zag or always start at the right/left end?
    Second question is what does this look like on the wrong side? Can duplicate stitch be used for a scarf or blanket (to spell the person's name perhaps)?

  • I hate intarsia – do it anyway – I am going to do this next time. I didn't realize how to go up above, etc. – just tried to do it like cross stich – which failed. thnx for such fantastic help!

  • I have a question when creating letters with double knit. would it be ok to use the areas between the 'v' as another v? It's a little hard to make curvy lettering. Thanks!!

  • Thank you! I spent hours looking for techniques to put a Finnish flag on a hat knitted in the round and all the options – stranded knitting, intarsia – looked like a complicated mess and every video had some different and complicated way you have to โ€œturnโ€ your work like it was flat instead of round, and work backward and do yarnovers and ssk or K2tog stitches to hide the join. Looked like too much trouble for me. The duplicate stitch will be super easy to do for a simple rectangular pattern in two colors. Thanks for saving me hours and hours of experimentation and frustration!

  • Staci I have a question please – When working duplicate stitch, do I block the work before or after embroidering the design? Thanks!

  • I dida sorta intarsia hat. I carried all my yarn over though.. It was only two colors.. I just finished a hat in the round and it has dogs but went back using duplicate stitch for the collar nose and eye.. I feel like the other hat that I did the hat flat but carried the yarns, I feel it wouldve looked better if I made it as duplicate stitch instead. And easier than juggling yarn around

  • Oh my life I love you!!! I was wondering how to work a steelers logo into a blanket but this is so much simpler. I canโ€™t wait to get started now!!!
    And your intarsia method is so much better than one I just saw. She used only two balls and carried the yarn across the back of her work. Can you imagine the mess?!
    Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
    Oh, and did I say… thank you!!!

  • Would it be possible to work the pattern like fair isle and just hide the float every three to four stitches? Iโ€™m talking about a hat.

  • I knit a pokeball shaped baby blanket with intarsia. I did work back and forth, but I connected the end as I worked. It is a round blanket.

  • Thank you so much! Iโ€™ve been trying to figure out intarsia for a while, but none of the other tutorials made any sense to me. Now I know thereโ€™s a better way ๐Ÿ™‚

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *