Monday, June 25, 2007

Working in ends on multi-color knitting--part 1: Russian join

Several readers have e-mailed recently, asking how to work in ends. This has also been a recurrent subject on several knitting boards.

IMHO, the best way to deal with ends is not to create any.

For working in yarns of the SAME color as you go, this LINK shows two different ideas:
1) "felting ends" also called "spit splicing."
2) Overlapping join

But, what if you're changing colors? A felted or overlapping join is out of the question, because you'll have color mismatch. A knot is a bad idea--a knot leaves a hard little nub, and very frequently, comes undone with wear.

Today's post illustrates a technique called the Russian join, which is the classic solution for pre-working ends in multi-color knitting.

Step 1 (left) Make a loop in your yarn by threading the tail of the yarn onto a SHARP needle and running the tail into the standing yarn (standing yarn=yarn coming from the ball). If the yarn is plied, run the tail through the plies, if the yarn is unplied (also called one-ply) just run the tail through the fibers of the standing yarn.

Step 2 (right) Repeat with the second color, so as to make interlocking loops. Knit with the resulting yarn.

There you go: no ends.

However, although this is a BIG improvement over working in a scad of loose ends at the end of a project, there are several reasons why you might find the Russian join to be less-than-ideal.
  • It is hard to get the join just where it ought to be--any imprecision in making the joint might give you a green stitch where you mean to have a pink one.
  • Stopping and hunting out a sewing needle and sewing in ends is slow--the rhythm of the knitting gets disrupted.
  • Because the tail is worked into the standing yarn BEFORE knitting, it's hard to control where it will end up.
  • Unraveling (frogging) is dicey--the bits of yarn are so precisely calibrated lengthwise that there is no extra slack for correcting an error.
For these reasons, you may wish to investigate an "improved Russian join" which has none of these drawbacks.  This improved join is called the "back join, check it out!

* * *
PS:  Here is a link to a post with 10 (!)  different methods of working in ends in knitting, eight of which are "as you go."

(You have been reading TECHknitting on: The Russian join)


Marseille said...

I know your entry is about multi-color knitting....but I'm nearing a point where I have to add a new ball of laceweight. The Russian join seems like too much bulk, and I'm not sure if I trust spit-splicing. Any thoughts?

--TECHknitter said...

Hi Marseille: The spit splice would hold, but it mats down the yarn in a noticible manner. The Russian join is quite bulky. I prefer the overlap join for laceweight yarns. If you follow the LINK in today's post, you'll get to the post of February 12, 2007 on adding a ball of yarn in the same color. That post has a photo illustration of the overlap join in lace weight yarn.

Thanks for your question

marjorie said...

Thanks for posting on this topic. It is something I always wrestle with. On seamed objects, I'll aways put the join at the seam with a loose knot that I removed when assembling, but I was totally stymied on my first shawl. I used the method in Myrna Stahman's book, which is a splice, and it worked very well on merino. When I tried it recently on three-ply fingering weight, it didn't turn out too well (it didn't stick, and I had to rip an inch or so). For that shawl, I knitted the yarn together for about three stitches, placing this join behind ktogs. That seemed a reasonable alternative for lace, and I'm using it again on another shawl with the same yarn.


One pair of Hands said...

Thank you, thank you. From one who loathes darning ends on a finished project. The Russian join is just my cup of tea.