Well, I know I promised that my next post would be a “tutorial” on mending holes in socks, but it turns out that I lied. Actually, I was about halfway through constructing said tutorial, when it occurred to me that not everyone out there is working from the same basis of knowledge. When I say things like “Anchor your yarn by duplicate stitching in the last two complete stitches of the row”, there are those out there who will go “Huh?!”. And that’s OK; I’ve got you covered. Here is a quick, but hopefully thorough enough lesson in Duplicate stitch.
First: A Definition.
Duplicate stitch is the process of recreating or tracing the line of a stitch on top of an existing stitch, usually using a different color of yarn. It is an extremely handy technique for any of the following:
1. Creating designs on finished knitting by “drawing on” stitches of a different color.
2. Reinforcing threadbare stitches to prevent the formation of holes (usually done in the same color).
3. Weaving in ends. This is a totally invisible, very secure (if somewhat fussy) way to weave in ends, and I know many brilliant knitters who use it to great advantage.
4. Closing up holes that occurred due to dropped stitches (once the stitches have been picked up, of course), unintentionally made stitches, stretched out stitches, etc.
On a more abstract level, practicing duplicate stitch is a wonderful way (it’s in italics because I feel very strongly about it) to learn more about the structure of your knitting. The path that your yarn takes as it travels through the row, the way it interacts with stitches from other rows, the relationship between a single stitch and the stitches around it; these can all be better understood by learning about duplicate stitch.
This is my goal in today’s lesson. I want to help you better understand just what your yarn is doing (and establish some shared terminology that I can use later on). I promise that it will make the following tutorial on sock mending much easier to follow.
OK. Let’s start with some knitting.
Does that help? Now, it turns out that, when trying to think of a row as an interconnected unit (which we are trying to do), the idea of “V’s” can be a little misleading. Stitches are not separate entities. Anyone who has tried to pick up an entire row of stitches that has fallen off the needle knows that what you do to one stitch has a very real effect on the stitch next to it. Let’s see how these V’s are connected.
The yellow above shows the path that the yarn takes on any given row. It’s very squiggly. For the sake of this and the next tutorial, I am going to come up with cutesy names for the different, salient parts of the row.
The part of the stitch that curves up and interlocks with the row above is now called a “Balloon”, and the part that curves down and interlocks with the row below is now called a “Teardrop” (Is that too sad? Oh well. They’re happy tears.) I call the sides of the Balloons and Teardrops “legs”. Have a look at how the Balloons and Teardrops from one row interact with those from another.
Alternately, white Balloons are coming through the top of the yellow Balloons and the white Teardrops are wrapping around top of the yellow Teardrops.
Ok. Now for a step by step virtual duplicate stitch.
Step 1: With a threaded needle (played here by a thick yellow line), go behind the legs of the first Blue stitch. Note, you will always go behind the legs of a stitch at its narrowest point; the bottom of a balloon or the top of a teardrop.
Step 2: Coming out from behind the legs of the balloon, bring the yarn down diagonally into the center of the Balloon one stitch below the Balloon you just went behind.
Step 3: Go behind the legs of the Teardrop immediately to the left.
Step 4: Go up diagonally into the center of the teardrop you came out of in step 2. Note: on the top, you will always be going behind balloons and coming out of teardrops, while on the bottom, you will be going behind teardrops and coming out of balloons. (What a very bizarre sentence.)
Now, we repeat the process.
Step 5: Go behind the legs of the next balloon.
Step 6: Go down diagonally into the center of the balloon one stitch below the balloon you went behind in step 5.
To begin the process again, go back to step 3.
Note: Whenever your thread comes out of a stitch (balloon or teardrop) it will eventually go back in that same stitch, after going behind the legs of the stitch directly above or below it.
In other words, you will always 1. Come out of a stitch, 2. go behind the two legs of the stitch directly (or rather one row) above or below that stitch, then 3. go back into the same stitch.
The tricky thing is that your point of view (whether you are focussing on the Balloons or the Teardrops) can change without warning. It is important to notice that, while you are going behind the legs of a Teardrop, you are also coming out of the center of a Balloon.
In know, sometimes labelling things does not make them simpler. The best thing is just to follow along with the steps until your eyes and hands start to recognize the movement.
Once you have a handle on the shape of the stitches and the path the yarn takes through the row, feel free to move on to the sock mending post.
I hope this helped.