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Eight Surface Embroidery Stitches for Knitters

A few simple stitches can add texture and personality to your knits!

Pat Olski Jun 3, 2024 - 7 min read

Eight Surface Embroidery Stitches for Knitters Primary Image

Pretty embroidery threads are a nice addition to a knitter’s toolkit. Photo by Bozhin Karaivanov on Unsplash

A little embroidery can elevate your hand-knitted pieces and add an artistic touch.

Surface embroidery stitches (which are not counted embroidery stitches like cross stitch or duplicate stitch) can be free-flowing and fun! They are not constrained by the size and the shape of the knit stitches beneath them, and they do not have to cover a textile evenly. Embroidery is also a great way to use up the last few precious inches you have of a favorite handspun or hand-dyed yarn.

The stitches can be placed anywhere, and it doesn’t matter if the knitted fabric is made up of smooth stockinette or if it is full of texture. Surface embroidery stitches can be tucked in between lace stitches or be massed atop a pile of cables. They can also be used to repair a garment—which is a nice way to cover a hole or worn spot. Although surface embroidery may appear to be complicated, with a little practice, you will find it to be an easy way to add some spark to your knits!

Susan Strawn has embroidered lovely flowers on her Gaman mittens using French knots, outline, and lazy daisy stitches, PieceWork magazine September/ October 2017. Photo by Joe Coca

Try out your embroidery on one of your handknitted swatches. That way you will be able to test the design transfer method, your fiber choices, the washability of the finished piece, and whether or not you will need to stitch over a fabric stabilizer or interfacing. Remember that your embroidery should not interfere with the natural stretch of your garment.

Here is a palette of pretty surface embroidery stitches that work well on hand-knitted fabric:

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