Burning Question: Stranding or Duplicate Stitch?

By Ann Shayne
April 16, 2019

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  • There is a viable third option. I made Papa, truly enjoyed the knitting and love the result I even recalculated the whole thing because my yarn (Noro silk garden solo) was an Aran, only 3 pattern repeats for me then!
    I did stranded knitted but with the most clever technique I came across within the last years (literally changed my knitt8ng life!), ladderback jacquard. No long floats, no colour blips showing through! Sockmatician has an awesome tutorial on youtube https://youtu.be/ntEcHzj5lg4.
    And yes, sometimes I got a little lost in the counting, but that’s the same challenge, if you strand or stitch. It’s no a problem though, nobody will see if a little flower is one stitch higher or lower, more to the left or right or a bit wonky, smaller, bigger, after all it’s a doodle, irregularity is part of the game….

    • PS: yes, I changed needle size and it was the right choice!

    • Nathan is amazing! What a great video and wild technique.

    • Another great reference for the ladderback jacquard technique, especially for those who want a practice pattern to guide them through it step by step:

      It’s one of the coolest knitting things I’ve learned about in years, and really opens up a ton of exciting options for Out There stranding. And, as a bonus, since learning about the technique I can finally make sense of what I’m seeing on the wrong side of some of my off-the-rack machine knit stranded sweaters

    • I have bought the yarn and planned to do the LBJ too! I watched the video but couldn’t work out what to do with the extra stitch. Does it just get worked together with one of the same colour when that appears in the pattern? What if this doesn’t happen by the end of the stranded portion?
      Techknitter also has a LBJ method on her site that is worked a bit different (STUART) Has anyone tried that?

    • whoa! Thank you for the tutorial video! 🙂

    • Gabi, how did you anchor the extra stitch on the last row of the charted section? For each 90 stitch pattern repeat, I can only see 5 points where you can knit 2 tog with the same colour. Did you just knit 2tog anyway? Thanks! I’m counting stitches and calculating logistics as we speak!

  • I would go with stranded knit on the delicate flowers. I am good at it and I am not very good at all the eyeballing and guess work the duplicate stitching requires. It is a lovely design.

  • You’ve never made a circular swatch :-O!! What do you do instead then? Because I really do hate circular swatching…

    • Oh but circular swatching is sooo easy and fun the @nellziroli way!!

  • I’m contemplating knitting this lovely jumper and for me intarsia, with maybe a little bit of stranding, would be the way to go.

  • Now I am not very experienced at colourwork, but why not intarsia? This is the sort of thing I’d have thought intarsia was designed for (except the knitting in the round stuff, of course!)

  • Love the idea of duplicate stitch before finishing the sweater- should be much easier. Now I want to add Papa to my embarrassingly long queue!

  • I think I would totally duplicate stitch this one … although now I’m curious about this ladderback jacquard (mentioned above!)

  • Your joke of the sharpie got me thinking—what about Papa flowers with bleach pen on denim yarn???

    • OMG that is a genius idea. I think the Rowan classic “Denim People” (with a very young Eddie Redmayne modeling!) has a few patterns like that.

  • I think you are right–duplicate stitch is the way to go. And the genius bit is working it before the arms and finishing work! As much as I love to do colorwork, this sweater seems like it could be a project from hell, even using ladderback jacquard. And definitely not intarsia in the round! OMG.

  • Loved the sweater at first sight but knew I would not be doing it. Some days even stockinette is a challenge. Wonder if purling the color stitches would work à la ganseys and State shapes on washcloths? Nah. Darn. I am in awe of you and those others who are tackling the other two… Oh, another thought. Would Kristin Nicholas get out her hoop and try embroidery? And would it have the same look? Apparently the musings on this design are endless. I can’t wait to see the outcome on Ravelry:).

  • P.S. Am even more in awe of Gabi..and apparently water-soluble stabilizer is the way to go for embroidery, not hoops.

    • I wondered about this – I’ve only done little bits of duplicate stitch, but as a former cross-stitcher, it seemed like something as big as these flowers would need a hoop to hold the fabric in place. Water-soluble stabilizer looks like it’s a good solution.

  • I am going to try the ladder back jacquard. I like doing stranded color work yet like the look of duplicate stitch on this sweater from photos. Ladder back jacquard seems to be a happy medium I will at least try.

  • My rule of thumb has been to duplicate stitch if the pattern is only one stitch (or sometimes two) and to use intarsia for anything more than that. It’s just a personal thing with me. Plus, I really enjoy duplicate stitching.

  • I forgot to add that I love the pattern!

  • Thank you. This has been bothering me since I first saw the pattern and I believe you have the solution……although the Sharpie alternative, that’s Genius.

  • I’ll take stranding over duplicate stitch, any day. But that’s cuz duplicate stitch is like some great mystery to me – half the time i can do it, the other half, it’s a disaster. Like I don’t remember the action. Left-handedness may play a role in this (as everyone teaching seems to be right-handed). Mind you, I’m mixed-handed, which is to say I do some things only left and others only right. So I don’t know if I can technically use this as my excuse. 🙂

  • For me, the thing about duplicate stitch is that a person can do anything. Any thing. I can imagine starting out following the pattern and then just…wheeeee!
    But I am definitely going to check out that ladderback jacquard method because 1) I fear the Very Long Float and 2) it just sounds so intriguing 🙂

  • The ladderback jacquard method is fascinating! I might try that on a simpler pattern than the Papa pullover. I also adore Halloween, so I very much liked his hat. My first stranded knitting project was last year. It too was a hat, but in my case with a very simple tree motif, suitable for a first-timer. I did swatch, with corrugated ribbing and stockinette, and was happy with the result. (Changing needles up by one size for the corrugated ribbing portion, I think.) However, when I started on the actual hat I found I had to go from size 2 needles for stockinette to size 5 needles for the colorwork portion. It may just have been a case of Newbie Stranded Knitter Syndrome, as I have found since then that going up 2 needle sizes for colorwork seems to be sufficient

  • You are a mind reader. I was fixin’ to ask how one handles the long floats in Papa. I want to do it as a cardigan and that makes the neatness even more important. You have empowered me yet again. It is also time to lay some other thank yous upon y’all. I became aware of MDK during the 3rd round of March Mayhem voting last year. You just sort of ran over me. Your writing style is dear to me. Your sense if humor is what is found in my Christmas letters – or more likely what I wish was found in my Christmas letters. I have learned just a bunch…and enjoyably . The spit splice is truly life changing. Approaching swatching from the point of view of not forcing yourself into a certain number of stiches/rows, but to experiment with different combinations to come up with a fabric that you like; then fudge the pattern. (I’m not sure I got this entirely from an MDK post, but perhaps from a link which led to another link and possibly to another.) Some process or other I used even though I was sure it wasn’t acceptable in the higher circles of knitting was vindicated. I’m so comfortable with it now I can’t remember what it was. Anyways, thank all of you associated with MDK for your knitting based posts, as well as inspiring fringe posts. I am a better knitter and person.
    Addendum: This is also on of the best thread of comments; most fascinating ideas.

  • I love stranded colorwork, but what I love about it is the rhythm! So I think I’d opt for duplicate stitch in this case. I also think I’d like the fabric better if the yoke isn’t double thick.

    Duplicate stitch: You know you can move over half a stitch, and then have your V’s pointing down like V’s instead of up like ^^^. That would float my boat, and keep knitters guessing!

  • Another option is to chain stitch crochet the flowers. The chain stitch gives beautiful texture and is very forgiving. I sometimes use backward knitting to avoid long strands as well, although in this sweater the backward knitting would have to be combined with intarsia to work well.

  • I think duplicate stitch is the only way I would do this sweater. I loved the look of this design but also didn’t like the idea of doing this color work stranded. I think if I knit it, I will duplicate stitch the flowers in multiple colors. We all have small balls in our stash-wouldn’t a bouquet of multi-colored flowers be fun?!

  • I am new to stranded knitting,so duplicate sticking would be the way to go.

  • There is a third option, the one that I am going with: bobbins. I’m following the chart using 2 feet long strands of the flower color.
    Not actually using bobbins, just letting the yarn hang in the back so that I can pull it up as needed. The color doodles lay smoothly and don’t thicken the fabric.

    • Ooh. Intriguing. Not sure I have the entire concept. Do you have multiple long strands hanging down the back and pick up the closest strand in each row? Not having a chart in front of me, I’m thinking that you’re going to have a strand when you need it within a stitch of the pattern. Do you give a wrap of the base and pattern yarns before and after each pattern stitch? I’m liking this if I’m even close.