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!

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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."

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