Saturday, July 14, 2007

Part 1 of working in ends with a sewing needle: the skimming-in method

This whole series of posts started off when various readers wrote to ask about working in ends. As I wrote then, IMHO, the best way to deal with end is not to have any. So far, this blog has shown five different ways to work in ends "as you go:" felting ends, overlap join, Russian join, back join and overcast method. A sixth method, added by Noricum (a reader) is to use the tails for seaming, which also eliminates the need to work in the tail.

And yet, foresight will take you just so far. Sometimes, despite all your ingenuity and tricks, you're going to wind up with an old-fashioned hanging tail that needs to be worked in with a sewing needle.

In May, this blog told you there are two different kinds of sewing needles, sharp and dull. It is possible to work in ends using either kind of needle: a sharp needle (called a "crewel," or "embroidery" needle) is used for SKIMMING, a dull needle (called a "tapestry" or "darner") for WEAVING. The next post will cover weaving, today we'll do skimming.

(Below) Skimming-in ends is done with a sharp needle. The tail is fastened down as it follows the needle, the needle "skims" though the tops of the purl heads along the fabric back. This really is a case of a picture being worth a thousand (or at least a couple of dozen) words so here it is, illustrated. An aside: after drawing this, I realized that I always work the tail into the row in stockinette, but I'm not really sure why--On further consideration, there's no real reason not to work the tail into the column, just like for ribbing, so if you're inclined, then do it that way.

(Below) For skimming-in ends through ribbing, turn the work inside out, and skim the end up one column of purl stitches, and down another. Because the purl stitches draw further into a ribbed fabric than do the knit stitches, skimming into the purls helps keep your tails invisible from both inside and outside of the fabric--handy when you want to fold your back your cuffs or hat brim. Be sure to work the needle through the very head of the purl stitch, which helps keep the skimming invisible from the front of the ribbing.In both of the above illustrations, the worked-in end takes a u-turn. This is very advisable in a slippery yarn, such as cotton, but could be skipped in wool. Also, these illustrations show the ends worked in, but before they have been adjusted--they are still stretched straight, under the tension imparted by the sewing needle. In real life, you'd stretch this area several times to adjust the tension, and you'd make up the garment and block it before cutting off the tails, giving those ends all the opportunity they need to draw up to their final length (and hopefully, to begin felting into the back face of the fabric).

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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."
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(You have been reading TECHknitting on: "skimming-in ends with a sewing needle")


Saralyn said...

So helpful. Thanks.

Heather said...

Your diagrams are wonderful! I love your site.

I would venture to say that using ends to seam is not always a grand solution, though. If there is any chance that the sweater (or other piece) will have to come apart in the future due to mending or fit, it's a great pain to have the cast-on or cast-off end serving as the seaming yarn. (I may have some experience in this area...) I think the best approach, aside from knitting top-down and in the round, is to use a fresh piece for each seam to make for easier disassembly.

KBurke said...

Thanks. I just found your blog and it is a great help!

Dogged Knitter said...

Hello. I love your blog. Most often, I learn something new. Sometimes, I see you do something that I always do and, when other knitters praise you, I feel SO smart!

I think the reason you always follow the row in stocking stitch (stockinette to you southern folk) and the column in ribbing is because that is how the knitting LOOKS to us. If you just glance at stocking stitch, you see row upon row (especially if the knitter 'rows out'). The eye is drawn as if reading a page. In ribbing, the eye is drawn up with the column.

It would be easy for the skimmed yarn to distort a stitch slightly and, if it were following a COLUMN of stocking stitch, the distortion would immediately stand out. A slight pull to the side on such a stitch, however, would be less obvious as that is the way our eyes would already be traveling. It's the reverse for ribbing.

I'll be interested in your comments on my theory. If you like it, I have another on dinosaurs.... ;)

Dogged Knitter in Winnipeg, Canada

--TECHknitter said...

Hi Dogged knitter: I think you are right! (although I realized that I also work ends in on the diagonal, sometimes.) Hmmm...well actually, that still supports your thesis! Thanks so much for writing.


Strix said...

Question from a Dummy: Are you going through the yarn, splitting it, or are you going through the purl stitch itself? In the illustration it looks like it is going in through the yarn threads.

Hope that makes sense!

TECHknitter said...

Hi Strix--the yarn is being pierced for this method--it is done with a sharp needle.

LJP said...

This is great. But I think I have created a huge problem for myself. I am making a 1 X 1 ribbed, striped scarf, and I didn't want to see the second color yarn worked up the side of the first color. So I have been cutting the ends after each stripe! I am a relatively new knitter, so it didn't occur to me that there could be a problem with weaving in the ends. I knew it would be a lot of work, but I thought I could do it without it showing. I have tried the skimming in method you discuss here, which has made me realize that the purl columns, which are completely hidden on one side, are knit columns on the other side! You can see the yarn splitting the middle of the knit stitch. It seems like it might help to skim-in mostly on the purl side, picking up just a small part of the purl bump. Do you have any other suggestions?

TECHknitter said...

The only way I can think of doing this is to work each end into its own color, crossing the yarn ONCE at the edge with the other-colored yarn. Take a very sharp needle and try to pierce right through the very middle of the plies as best as possible, along a column.

Anonymous said...

When working in ends, I use a yarn needle and go diagonally through the top and bottom bumps on the purl (usually the wrong) side of the work. If the purl side is the right side of the work, I use the side bumps from one column of knit stitches. also, I always go several stitches (6-10) and then reverse direction for about 1/2 the number of stitches. This is very secure and great for children's clothes, which take are subjected to harder wear than most adult things.

I love your blog. I have learned so much from you, even though I have been knitting over 50 years.

Rochelle said...

I user skimming almost exclusively since reading this a few years ago. There might be something wrong with your explanation of skimming, but tell me if I'm missing something. If you turn the piece to the WS, you're skimming into the K stitches, not the P, because the stitches that look like K are the P stitches of the RS.

Often I reference your pages till I have a technique mastered. Do you edit old blogs if you have corrections?

TECHknitter said...

Hi Rochelle--Not sure to what you are referring? The first illo shows skimming into purl stitches in the back of the fabric, the second, skimming into purl sts in ribbing? Not sure where the supposed error lies? Please write again if I am misunderstanding because, yes, I do try to correct old posts if they are in error. Thanks, TK

Shari McComber said...

I may be missing something here, but what would you do if you cannot skim vertically into 1x1 rib? The scarves I'm doing now have trapped bar stripes that are only 2 rows wide and the yarn cannot be carried between the stripes due to distance. Should I be trying to skim these ends horizontally into the purl bumps between the ribs and working both sides? I can do it, but it sounds like a lot of work and I've stupidly got 56 ends per scarf to be getting rid of (I didn't know how to knit them in as I went at the time and not certain I know for sure now). Is there a way to salvage the situation or do I need to slog through finding every hidden purl bump?

TECHknitter said...

You certainly have your work cut out for you! For next time (cut and paste linky into browser window) chose one of these methods:

For this time, if it were mine, I would bordering the entire scarf with an i-cord edging (either applied, or knit in place (applied is quicker, use an i-cord mill to make the i-cord, linky to i-cord mill below, linky to applying i-cord via croched slip stitch two links below). Then, it is a very quick thing to drag all those ends inside the (hollow!) i-cord tube. It will look a lot more finished than trying to work all those ends into the fabric, IMHO.

i-cord maker:

this post shows what an i-cord looks like added afterwards (the i-cord is used as a buttonhole, but it is the same idea) (scroll down for the picture of an "i-cord looped buttonhole in action)

This post demos the crocehted slip stitch (which is what I use to apply the I-cord) (but you can sew it on, also, if the idea of slip stitching gives you a headache)

Good luck, TK