Embroidering onto Knitting: A Step-by-Step Guide

Embroidering onto Knitting: A Step-by-Step Guide

Knitting is not just about creating beautiful garments and accessories, it’s also a fantastic canvas for adding extra touches of creativity. Embroidering onto knitting is a popular technique that allows you to personalize your projects and make them truly unique. Whether you want to add intricate designs, colorful motifs, or delicate embellishments, embroidery can take your knitting to the next level.

One of the key tips for successfully embroidering onto knitting is to choose the right yarn. Opt for a smooth, lightweight yarn that complements your knitted fabric. It’s important to select a yarn that is sturdy enough to withstand the embroidery process and won’t distort or stretch your knitting. You can experiment with different yarn weights and textures to achieve the desired effect.

Before you start embroidering, make sure your knitted piece is properly blocked. Blocking helps relax the stitches and ensures a smooth surface for embroidery. You can use blocking mats or towels and gently steam or mist your knitted item to shape it. Once it’s dry, you’re ready to start embroidering.

When it comes to embroidery techniques, there are numerous options to explore. You can use basic stitches like backstitch, satin stitch, and French knots to add simple details or create intricate patterns. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can experiment with more advanced techniques like crewelwork or stumpwork to add dimension and texture to your knitting.

Remember to plan your design before you start embroidering. Use a fabric marker or stitch markers to outline your desired pattern on the knitted surface. This will help you stay on track and ensure that your embroidery is symmetrical and well-placed. You can also try practicing your stitches on a scrap piece of knitting before starting on your main project.

Embroidering onto knitting is a delightful way to add a personal touch to your creations. Whether you’re a skilled embroiderer or just starting out, this technique offers endless possibilities for creativity. So grab your needles, choose your favorite yarn, and start embellishing your knitted pieces with beautiful embroidery.

Choosing the Right Materials

When it comes to embroidering onto knitting, selecting the right materials is crucial for achieving the desired results. Here are some tips for choosing the right materials:

  • Embroidery Thread: Choose a thread that complements the color and texture of your knitting. Embroidery floss or specialized embroidery thread designed for knitting works well. Consider using a contrasting color to make the design stand out.
  • Embroidery Needles: Look for embroidery needles with a sharp point that can easily pass through the stitches of your knitting. Depending on the thickness of your yarn, you may need to experiment with different needle sizes to find the right fit.
  • Knitting Yarn: The yarn you use for your knitting project will affect the outcome of your embroidery. Smooth, tightly knit fabric works best for embroidery. Avoid using textured or fluffy yarns, as they can make the embroidery difficult to see and work on.
  • Embroidery Hoop: An embroidery hoop can help keep your knitting fabric taut and prevent it from stretching or distorting while you work. Choose a hoop that fits comfortably around your knitting without causing any tension or pulling.

It’s important to test your materials on a small swatch of your knitting before starting your embroidery project. This will allow you to assess the compatibility of the materials, as well as gauge the tension and stitch size needed for your design.

Remember, the choice of materials will depend on your personal preferences and the specific effect you’re trying to achieve. Don’t be afraid to experiment and try new combinations to create unique and stunning embellishments for your knitting project!

Preparing Your Knitting

Before you begin embroidering onto your knitting, there are a few steps you should take to prepare your project:

  1. Block your knitting: Blocking your knitting is an important first step as it helps to even out the stitches and ensure that your fabric is smooth and ready for embellishments. Follow the blocking instructions for your particular yarn and knitting project.
  2. Choose your design placement: Decide where you want to add your embroidery and mark the area lightly with a removable fabric marker or safety pins. This will serve as a guideline as you work.
  3. Gather your materials: Make sure you have all the necessary materials for your embroidery project, including embroidery floss, embroidery needles, embroidery hoop (if desired), and any additional embellishments such as beads or sequins.
  4. Prepare your embroidery floss: If using multiple strands of embroidery floss, separate the strands and thread them through the needle. You can use as many strands as you prefer, depending on the thickness of your knitting and the desired effect.
  5. Practice your stitches: If you are new to embroidery, it may be helpful to practice your stitches on a spare piece of fabric or a swatch of your knitting. This will allow you to get comfortable with the stitches and experiment with different techniques before embroidering onto your main project.

Once you have completed these preparation steps, you will be ready to start embroidering onto your knitting. Remember to take your time and enjoy the process as you add embellishments to your project!

Selecting the Embroidery Design

When it comes to embroidering onto knitting, selecting the right embroidery design is essential. Here are some tips to help you choose the perfect design:

  • Consider the knitting pattern: Look at the overall design of the knitting project and choose an embroidery design that complements it. For example, if you are knitting a textured sweater, you may want to choose an embroidery design with simple lines and shapes to ensure that it doesn’t compete with the knitting.
  • Think about the size: Take into account the size of the area you want to embroider and choose a design that will fit well within that space. If the area is small, opt for a smaller, more detailed design. If the area is larger, you can go for a bigger, more intricate design.
  • Consider the complexity: Determine the level of detail you want in your embroidery design. If you are a beginner, it may be best to start with a simpler design that won’t require too much stitching. If you are more experienced, you can choose a design with more intricate details.
  • Think about the color: Consider the colors of the knitting project and choose embroidery threads that will complement or contrast with those colors. You can choose to match the embroidery threads to the knitting yarn for a cohesive look or go for contrasting colors to make the design stand out.
  • Look for inspiration: Browse through embroidery design books, magazines, and online platforms for inspiration. You can also look for embroidery designs specifically created for knitting projects to get ideas.

Remember, selecting the right embroidery design can truly enhance your knitting project and make it one-of-a-kind. Take your time to choose a design that speaks to you and fits well with your overall vision for the finished piece.

Transferring the Design onto Knitting

When it comes to adding embellishments to knitted pieces, transferring the design onto the knitting is an important step. There are several methods and tools you can use to transfer your design onto the knitting.

1. Tracing

One of the simplest methods of transferring the design onto knitting is by tracing it directly onto the fabric. Place the design or pattern underneath the knitting, secure it with pins or tape, and use a fabric-safe pen or pencil to trace the design onto the knitting. Make sure to use a light touch to avoid pulling or distorting the stitches.

2. Graph paper

If your design is a simple pattern or motif, you can use graph paper as a guide. Each square on the graph paper represents a stitch, and you can follow the pattern by knitting according to the colors and shapes on the graph paper. This method is especially useful for intarsia or colorwork designs.

3. Thread or yarn markers

Another method is to use thread or yarn markers to outline the design on the knitting. Choose a contrasting color of thread or yarn and stitch along the lines of the design. This method allows you to see the design more clearly as you work and ensures accuracy.

4. Stitch markers

If your design consists of repeating motifs or patterns, you can use stitch markers to mark the beginning and end of each motif. This will help you keep track of where to start and end each section of the design and ensure that the motifs are evenly spaced and aligned.

5. Embroidery transfer pens

Embroidery transfer pens are specifically designed to transfer designs onto fabric. These pens allow you to draw or trace your design directly onto the knitting and then iron it to set the design. This method provides a more permanent and precise transfer of the design.

6. Stencil and spray adhesive

If you are working with a larger design or want to repeat the design multiple times, you can use a stencil and spray adhesive. Place the stencil over the knitting, secure it with spray adhesive, and then use a fabric-safe pen or pencil to trace the design onto the knitting. This method allows for accurate placement and repetition of the design.

Whichever method you choose, it’s important to test it on a swatch or scrap piece of knitting first to ensure that it doesn’t damage or distort the stitches. Take your time and carefully transfer the design onto the knitting before you start embroidering to achieve the best results.

Embroidery Techniques for Knitting

Embroidery can be a beautiful and creative way to enhance your knitted projects. Whether you want to add small details or create intricate designs, here are some embroidery techniques to help you get started.

1. Duplicate Stitch

Duplicate stitch, also known as Swiss darning, is a common embroidery technique used to add color and texture to knitted fabric. It involves stitching over existing stitches to create a design. This technique works best on stockinette stitch or other smooth surfaces.

2. Intarsia

Intarsia is a technique that involves knitting with different colored yarns to create patterns or images. You can use intarsia to create geometric designs, animals, or any other image you desire. It requires careful planning and can be a bit more advanced, but the results are stunning.

3. Surface Embroidery

Surface embroidery involves stitching decorative designs on top of your knitting. You can use a variety of stitches like satin stitch, chain stitch, or French knots to add texture and visual interest to your project. This technique works best on flat or lightly textured knitted fabric.

4. Appliqué

Appliqué is a technique where you sew a fabric shape or design onto your knitted project. You can create appliqués using different materials, such as felt, fabric scraps, or even lace. This technique allows for more three-dimensional designs and is a great way to add a pop of color to your knitting.

5. Bead Embellishments

Adding beads to your knitting can create a beautiful and eye-catching effect. You can sew individual beads onto your project or use a crochet hook to add beads as you knit. Beads can be used to highlight certain areas or create intricate patterns.

6. Cross-Stitch

Cross-stitch is a technique where you create a design using X-shaped stitches over the fabric. It can be done on knitted fabric as well. You can create cross-stitch designs on background stitches or work them directly into your knitting by using a waste yarn grid.

These embroidery techniques can take your knitting projects to the next level. Experiment with different stitches, colors, and techniques to create unique and personalized designs. Happy embroidering!

Finishing Touches and Embellishments

When it comes to adding that extra special touch to your knitted projects, there are many techniques and embellishments to choose from. Whether you want to add a touch of whimsy or a touch of elegance, there’s a technique or embellishment that’s perfect for you.


Embroidery is a popular way to add decorative stitches and designs to your knitted items. You can use embroidery to add flowers, animals, or geometric patterns, among other things. Embroidery can be done with a needle and thread or with yarn that matches your knitting. It’s a versatile technique that allows you to customize your knits to your heart’s content.


Appliqué involves attaching pieces of fabric to your knitting to add color and texture. You can use appliqué to create intricate designs or to add simple details. The fabric can be sewn or glued onto your knitting, and you can use a wide range of fabrics, from plain cotton to fancy lace. Appliqué is a great way to personalize your knits and make them truly one-of-a-kind.


Adding beads to your knitting can create stunning effects. You can sew beads onto your knitting or string them onto your yarn as you knit or purl. Beads can be used to create subtle accents or to add sparkle and shine to your projects. They come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors, allowing you to get creative and experiment with different designs.

Ribbons and bows

Ribbons and bows are a simple yet effective way to add a touch of elegance to your knitted items. You can sew ribbons onto your knitting as trim or create bows and attach them as decorative accents. Ribbons come in a variety of colors and textures, making it easy to find the perfect match for your project.


Adding finishing touches and embellishments to your knitting can take your projects from ordinary to extraordinary. Whether you choose to embroider, appliqué, add beads, or use ribbons and bows, the possibilities are endless. Don’t be afraid to get creative and try out different techniques to make your knits truly unique.

Care and Maintenance

Embroidered knitwear requires special care to ensure that the embellishments stay in place and the garment retains its shape. Here are some tips for taking care of your embroidered knitted items:

  1. Handwashing: It is recommended to handwash embroidered knitwear to avoid damaging the delicate embellishments. Use lukewarm water and a gentle detergent specifically designed for delicate fabrics.
  2. Soaking: Before washing, soak the garment in a basin of water for a few minutes to loosen any dirt or stains. Gently agitate the water without rubbing or wringing the item, then drain the water and refill with clean water for rinsing.
  3. Drying: After washing, gently press the excess water out of the garment without twisting or wringing. Lay it flat on a clean towel or a drying rack to air dry. Avoid hanging embroidered knitwear as it may stretch or distort the shape.
  4. Storage: When storing embroidered knitwear, fold it carefully and place it in a drawer or on a shelf. Avoid hanging it for long periods as this may cause the garment to stretch. To prevent any snags or damages, keep the knitwear away from sharp objects or jewelry.
  5. Ironing: If ironing is necessary, use a low heat setting and place a pressing cloth or a thin towel over the embroidered area to protect it. Avoid direct contact between the iron and the embellishments to prevent melting or flattening of the threads.
  6. Spot cleaning: In case of minor stains, use a mild detergent or stain remover specifically formulated for knitwear. Apply it to the stained area and gently blot with a clean cloth or sponge. Avoid rubbing or scrubbing, as this may damage the embroidery.
  7. Professional cleaning: If your embroidered knitwear requires more extensive cleaning or if you are unsure about properly caring for it, it is best to seek professional cleaning services. They will have the expertise to handle delicate fabrics and embellishments safely.

By following these care and maintenance tips, you can ensure that your embroidered knitwear remains in excellent condition for years to come.


Can I embroider onto knitted fabric?

Yes, you can definitely embroider onto knitted fabric. In fact, adding embroidery to knitwear can be a fun and creative way to personalize your projects.

What kind of embroidery stitches work best on knitted fabric?

When embroidering onto knitted fabric, it is best to use simple stitches that won’t pull on the yarn. Some recommended stitches include running stitch, back stitch, and chain stitch.

Do I need any special tools or materials for embroidering onto knitted fabric?

While you don’t necessarily need any special tools, it can be helpful to have embroidery needles with a larger eye to accommodate the yarn. It is also recommended to use embroidery hoops to keep the fabric taut while stitching.

How can I prevent my embroidery from distorting the knitted fabric?

To prevent distortion, it is important to work with a stable and well-blocked knitted fabric. You can also use interfacing or backing fabric to add stability to the area you plan to embroider on.

Can I use any type of yarn for embroidering onto knitted fabric?

While you can technically use any type of yarn for embroidery, it is recommended to use a yarn that is similar in weight to the knitted fabric to ensure a cohesive look. You can also experiment with different textures and colors for added visual interest.

Are there any specific techniques for embroidering onto different types of knitted stitches?

When embroidering onto different types of knitted stitches, it can be helpful to use a stabilizer to prevent the stitches from sinking into the fabric. You can also adapt your stitching technique based on the stitch pattern, such as following the lines of a ribbed stitch or filling in the gaps of a lace stitch.

Can I combine embroidery with other embellishments on knitted fabric?

Absolutely! Embroidery can be combined with other embellishments such as beads, sequins, or appliques to create unique and eye-catching designs on knitted fabric. Just make sure to secure the additional embellishments properly to ensure they don’t come loose.


Learn How to Do Duplicate Stitch Embroidery on Knits

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