Embroidering Knitted Fabric

Several of my mitten designs have embroidered flowers on them, so I get a lot of questions about embroidering on knitted fabric. The thing is, knitted stitches don’t like to be pulled (they told me so), and unfortunately, embroidery involves a lot of pulling. Ah, is it just not meant to be?

Of course it’s meant to be! Otherwise this would be an extremely short post. Here are a few tips for successfully embroidering your knitted pieces:

1. Avoid embroidering on top of really textured stitch patterns. It makes the embroidered stitches lay unevenly, and the textured background can be distracting. I usually use stockinette stitch if I plan on embroidering.

2. Pay attention to the tension in your embroidered stitches. Too loose, and they’ll catch on things. Too tight, and they’ll distort the knitted fabric.

3. Consider the weight of your embroidering yarn. Anything significantly heavier or lighter than the weight you used to knit the piece can cause difficulty. Heavier yarns can distort the knitted fabric, while too light a yarn will just get lost.

4. To prevent your knitted fabric from becoming distorted (are we noticing a theme here?), use the thumb of your non-embroidering hand to hold the last couple of stitches in place as you embroider a new one. This prevents the pulling motion of the new embroidered stitch from screwing up you knit work.

5. Detail is the enemy!  Okay, not really, but keep in mind that unless you have very very very tightly knit fabric, you will not be able to achieve the detail you can on traditional cross stitch fabric. Plan accordingly!

6.  Don’t be afraid to splice a stitch!  If you find your embroidery just won’t stay in place when you pull through the more obvious spaces between stitches, try going through a stitch so that the strands of yarn in that stitch are divided.  The twisting of those strands will keep your embroidering yarn in place.

Hope this helps you create something fantabulous!


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