In our sister masterclass, we examined ways to weave in yarn ends. In this post, we take a look at methods of joining in new yarn during your knitting, to leave you with fewer of those pesky threads to sew in when you’re finished!
One of the general ‘rules’ we’ve probably all heard is to never join in yarn in the middle of a row. But this theory doesn’t always work. What if you’re knitting in the round, for example, or your yarn breaks, or you’re happily knitting along until you come across one of those irritating little knots in your yarn?
Here, we suggest a few methods designed to neatly join in a new yarn while minimising sewing-up time.
The felted ends technique
One of our favourite techniques is to felt the ends of the yarn. Sometimes referred to as ‘spit-splicing’, the idea is to moisten both old and new ends of yarn (using whatever method you are most comfortable with – water or spit) and felt the two ends into one, by rubbing your palms together and creating friction. Note that this technique will only work with yarns that are at least 70% wool; acrylic and cotton will not felt.
To prepare the yarns, pull apart the plied ends and graduate the lengths of them over about 15cm. Moisten them slightly and lay both yarns across the palm of your hand in opposite directions.
Rub your palms together quickly to join the two yarns until you feel your hands begin to heat up. Keep checking the yarns and pulling them slightly to make surethey are securely joined.
When the felting is complete, the two yarns will have joined seamlessly and you can continue knitting.
The russian join
This join can be a little fiddly, but once you’re finished the ends are quite well hidden. Unlike the felted ends technique, the Russian join can be used with any fibre, so it is a good choice if you are joining in the middle of a row with a yarn type that won’t felt, and you want to minimise the amount of sewing in to do at the end.
Thread the end of a tapestry needle with the old yarn. Keeping hold of the tail, insert the tapestry needle into the yarn, a few centimetres along, going in between the threads. Try to keep the amount of threads either side of the needle even, if possible.
Twist yarn in the opposite way to the ply, moving the needle so the threads begin to ply around it. Continue this for a few centimetres. Pull the needle through the threads to fold it in on itself and remove the tapestry needle. The yarn may need a gently pull and a roll between your fingers to relax it.
Steps 6 & 7
Thread the tapestry needle with the new yarn, and after inserting it into the loop created in at the fold in the old yarn, repeat the process.
Pull the yarns gently and give them a wiggle, before trimming the ends.
The twined knitting join
We like this join, although it will still require a little sewing-in once you’re done. The idea is that you alternate knitting with the old and new yarns for a few stitches to help secure them during the weaving-in stage. By using the twined knitting technique, the yarns will be held neatly in place on the wrong side of the fabric.
When you come to the place you would like to join the yarn, with at least 30cm of old yarn remaining, insert the right needle into the next stitch, and instead of wrapping the old yarn around, take the new yarn with about 30cm folded over at the end, using the loop on the end as your new stitch, and bring this through to the right needle.
Steps 10 & 11
Bring the old yarn up from underneath the new yarn (and yarn end) and knit the next stitch. Continue in this manner, always bringing the next yarn up from underneath the yarn previously used, to create a twist on the WS. After 5-10 stitches, continue in the new yarn only until you reach the end of the row. On the next row, alternate stitches again as before.
After two rows of alternating stitches in this section, continue in the new yarn only, weaving in the ends as you go by knitting underneath them in every other stitch. Depending on how sticky your yarn is, you might also wish to duplicate stitch a few centimetres in when you’re finished.