Monday, April 19, 2010

Working in ends as you go along: same color or changing color

In this post are links to ten different methods (all illustrated) for working in ends, eight of which are as-you-go.

1. The Russian join--this join is well-known as a simple method of joining two colors, but works just as well for same-color joins. An example of where you might want to work in two different colored ends is with stripes or with fair-isle methods. An example of same-color joining is where you run out of yarn and need to switch in a new ball of the same color. This join, like most the others on this page, not only secures the transition stitches, but also works the ends in as-you-go.

2. The back join is an improved Russian join--with the back join, it is possible to exactly choose the spot where the yarns will change--not the case with the Russian join. Another improvement is that the back join is WAY faster than the Russian join--no need to dig out a sewing needle! Like the Russian join, the back join is usually touted for changing smoothly from one color to another, but is also a nifty trick for same-color joins. Also like the Russian join, if you use the back join, there will be no ends to work in at the end--all you have to do is snip off the excess after blocking and you are done!

3. For same-color joins, there is also the overlap method. (scroll at link) This method is probably the very fastest of all. The overlap method will not work (or at least, will not work very well) for changing color, but for same-color joins, there is nothing simpler. With this method, and depending on the yarn used, it may be necessary to leave little tags (tails) on the inside where the yarn changed, but because the stitches are overlapped, these tags will never work free--the transition stitches will remain tight and good looking for the life of the garment. This method can be adapted for lace, also, without the tags.

4. Not to be confused with the overLAP method (above) we also have the overCAST method. For delicate work, or for thin yarn, this trick lets you work in the ends with no added bulk on the face of the fabric. Therefore, this method is to be preferred to the Russian- or the back-join when bulk is an issue: both of Russian- and the back-join add a bit of bulk to the fabric surface, which this overcast method does not. Like the Russian- and the back-join, with the overcast method, the ends are worked in as-you-go. You need only trim off the excess after blocking, and your fabric-finishing is complete.

5. Another great (if slightly icky) method for dealing with ends is the spit-splice, also called "felting ends" (scroll at link). This works best for same-color joins--for different color joins, you would have a length of yarn which had both colors at the same time. Felting ends is not so much a method for working-in ends--instead, felting actually
eliminates the ends!

6. We also have two methods of working in ends using a sewing needle--an after-the-fact fix for loose ends. The first of these is the art of weaving in ends. With weaving, the end is worked into the fabric face along the same path as the underlying stitches--it is a species of duplicate stitch. A sub-set of weaving is how to weave ends in ribbing. Weaving is quite, quite secure, but it can add a little bulk on the fabric face, so if this is a concern, consider using the method below, instead.

7. The second method of working in ends with a sewing needle is the skimming-in method. This method is not quite as secure as the weaving-in method, but it avoids bulk on the fabric face, and so is better than the weaving-in method for thin yarns or delicate work. Both the weaving-in and the skimming-in method work with different color yarns OR same color.

8. A sub-set of the skimming-in method occurs when you are facing a very short tail--so short that you can't really thread the needle. For this problem, we knitters can adapt a classic dressmaker's tip for working in the too-short ends.

9. Another place where ends might be an issue is at the beginning of a circular knit. That tail hanging where the join occurs can work itself loose and get ugly. A trick for preventing this AND working the tail in at the join is the three-in-one TECHjoin. Further, the three-in-one TECHjoin also prevents the nasty "jog" where the first round meets the cast on.

10. We end with a quite-specialized trick for working in your ends on textured stripes. This trick shows how to make jogless stripes in textured fabric AND work in your ends-as-you-go. It's a nice time-saver for those who like to make stripy ribbed hats.

Good knitting! --TK


French Press Knits said...

Wow- what a great comprehensive collection. Thanks for everything you do!

thistledown musings said...

Thank you for bringing it all together.

Lyn said...

As usual, you're a wealth of information! Always appreciated!
On the three-in-one Techjoin, why are the bulk of the sts CO over 2 ndls?

TECHknitter said...

Casting on over two needles, followed by casting on over one needle makes the loops into which the tails are worked (the ones cast on over one needle) the same size as those cast on over two needles. In other words, when the tail is worked into the loops cast on over one needle, the tail bulks up those stitches. Making those stitches smaller in the first place means all the loops wind up the same size.

Anonymous said...

This is truly excellent - one place to find all the best ways of joining. Thank you!!

berlinBat said...

I didn't see this trick in the original postings; maybe I just missed it, but here goes an unvention:

You can also "thin out" the back join or the overlap join to avoid bulk by splicing a multi-plied yarn, i.e., cutting off 2 plies of a (say) 4-ply yarn for the last 3-4 inches and keeping the other 2 plies. Then make a (say) back join with the remaining 3-4 inches. Allow little overlap between the cut end and the long end, depending whether you want to sew in the ends afterwards. Do the same with the new yarn end, cutting half of the plies and making a loop of the remaining ones. You will have no bulk whatsoever in your join, but the yarn will always have the original thickness.

TECHknitter said...

Hi BerlinBat:

I have tried that trick (most recently in a cotton shawl) but I get little wisps of yarn where the excess plies are cut out. Can you write and say how you avoid that?

Thanks, TK.

berlinBat said...

Hi, I know exactly what you mean by the wisps..

I was not able to formulate any reasonable answer in less than 20 rows, so I posted an answer in my blog. I try and add some pictures to it tomorrow..

Marjorie said...

It is terrific to have all these methods listed together, making it easy to compare them and choose the best for a particular project.

Judy said...

Not being a very experienced knitter, I am wondering which method you would suggest when joining yarn to pick up stitches around the opening of a sleeve, where there might be some stress on the join.
All of the friends that I have sent to this blog agree - it is so very helpful! Thank you

TECHknitter said...

Hi Judy--thanks for writing. It's great to hear that you and your friends find TECHknitting blog useful.

As far as joining yarns to pick up stitches, I wouldn't do it! I'd start picking up stitches with a fresh length of running yarn right from the skein of yarn. Picking up stitches is fiddly enough without having to contend with the doubled-back yarns of the Russian- or back-join, or overlap join, while the overcast join is too fragile. The only exception--the only join I, personally would consider making would be the the spit splice (felting ends) because this actually makes the two yarns into one, so no distraction will occur.

If you have further questions, write again, OK?


Anonymous said...

Thank you so much! You are my "go to" for any knitting question or problem...Any chance a book will be coming out?

berlinBat said...

So, pictures added, I hope they're helpful!

TECHknitter said...

Thank you, Berlin Bat. That is a very interesting technique. Thanks for adding photos and a link, also.

staceyinchina said...

OMG, I love you. This was just the explanation I needed! I always come to your blog every time I have questions. I think there are so many nuances of knitting, especially finishing, that are comepletely overlooked by knitters. So many instruction manuals skim over finishing, when it's so important for finish products to look good! I admit I am horrible at finishing, just due to ignorance alone.

I was not taught knitting, so I never had anyone to ask about the nuances of finishing. "Sew in ends" is not enough information, but your tutorials answer a lot of questions that I've had-- when to cut the ends, how long to sew in, how to weave in ends, etc.

I am knitting a sweater with LOTS of color changes and was hoping I didn't have to continue to weave in a hundred ends, since I've been keeping up with . SO happy I can pretty much just snippy snip!

Anonymous said...

What about the tail from the start of adding a thumb to a mitten.

TECHknitter said...

Hi Anon--the tail from the thumb can actually be a valuable asset--many knitters use it to judiciously tighten up or eliminate any holes which might be forming at the base of the thumb. This is done by some adaptation of the skimming-in method, which is shown in these posts (copy and past links to browser window). Thanks for writing, TK

Anonymous said...

Wow, I am a new knitter What a brilliant site Thanks so much

Catlady said...

You missed method 11 - which is a variation on your "Overlap" method. It works for same colour joining:

While you still have several inches of yarn left, and leaving a short tail to weave in later, knit one stitch with new yarn, then one stitch with old yarn. Knit one stitch with new yarn, one with old. Continue for a minimum of six stitches (three new, three old) up to 10 stitches.