Apr 30, 2013

5 tips for Weaving In Ends

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Below are 5 tips for weaving in ends on your hand knits that are beyond a simple "how-to"  (here's my "how-to" video, if you're looking for that). Everyone does it a little differently, and there are probably 100 different techniques. My favorite way is to thread the end onto a yarn needle and use the duplicate stitch on the wrong-side, but obviously there are many variables that effect the way I do this and contribute to the success of the outcome.
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1. Do a little planning. With garments that involve seaming, you can easily hide ends in the selvage, stitching up along the edge then backstitching a little to secure the end. For this reason, it's best to join new yarn at the beginning of a row. Try to pay attention to the amount of yarn that is left as you begin each new row. Also, if you will be sewing a seam, you can strategically place a very long end and use it for seaming, which eliminates two extra ends, and leads to the next tip.

2. Leave long tails. whether it's at the beginning middle or end of a row, you always want to leave enough of a tail to thread one of those giant yarn needles, plus a few extra inches. 8 inches is usually enough. Use your long tails to attach embellishments, sew seams or for closing the top of a hat.

3. Block your knits after weaving to smooth everything out.  It's not always easy to weave ends into smooth fabric textures. Some of your stitches might end up looking a bit distorted but a little blocking can work wonders. Wet-blocking will yield the best results. I cannot stress the importance of blocking enough.

4. Split plies for bulky yarn. This is one of my favorite tips. If you are using a bulky weight yarn, it can be difficult to hide your ends. If your yarn is plied, you can split the plies apart and weave them in separately. Similarly, you can grade, or taper the yarn as you weave it, trimming the plies as you go.
Splitting Plies of Thick Yarn

5. Fake the duplicate stitch by doubling your yarn when you join a new
ball. This is a great time saving technique for finer yarns, and especially useful when working in the round. When you have about 10" left on your ball of yarn, join the new ball leaving about a 6" tail. Work 8 stitches holding the old and new yarn together, then drop the old yarn and continue the round (drop the ends on the backside). On the next row, work the doubled stitches normally. When it comes time to weave in these ends, all you need to do is trim them close. For extra security, I usually run the tail through a few purl bumps to keep the ends from creeping out on the right side.

BONUS TIP: SPLICING
Sometimes it is possible to avoid weaving in ends by splicing the ends of two strands together. This works best with especially fuzzy yarns that are able to felt.
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TO KNOT, OR NOT TO KNOT
Someone recently asked me why they shouldn't just tie a knot, trim the ends, and call it a day.

Knots aren't terrible, but they don't always stay tied and can be uncomfortable to the wearer. Also, they have a tendency to float to the right side. Knitted fabric can be very fluid, especially if you're using slippery yarn.  Over time, the knot can pull and distort the stitches around it. If you weave in your ends, a knot is totally unnecessary.

SPECIAL CASES
Cotton yarn- It's especially difficult to hide the ends of cotton yarn, but you can almost always split the plies as in tip #4 and get a nice looking result.
Chunky Single ply yarn- You might still be able to divide the ply in two, but if not, you can weave the end in tightly, trim the end at a long angle to taper it, and then stretch the fabric to pull the end into the stitches. Some people actually secure the ends of very chunky yarn with sewing thread and a sharp needle. I've never had cause to try this, but it's worth mentioning.

Do you have any little tricks you’ve picked up along the way? I’d love to hear them in the comments below.

This is part of my ongoing “5 tips” series. Future topics will be swatches, and substituting yarn, and reading a pattern. Please let me if there is another topic you would like to see me write about.

Comments

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    Elisa
    about 6 years ago

    Thank you for writing this! I just bookmarked this page, it's nice to have all of these ideas in one place to come back and refer to. I started knitting about a year ago. Since I was all self-taught, I "winged it" when I would weave in my ends at first. After becoming frustrated with the way it looked, I finally started researching the correct way to do it and use the duplicate stitch on the wrong side. I love the way it stretches with the fabric. I just have a couple of questions: I am weaving the ends in right now on a garment that is a slick acrylic and the stitches seem to be sinking in a little on the front where my ends are woven in. Will wet blocking help just as much with acrylic (or even a wash and dry)? Also, how much of a tail do you leave when you cut the yarn (especially on slicker yarns). close to the fabric, or should there be a little bit of a tail on the back? Thanks again for the great tips!

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    Alexis Winslow
    about 6 years ago

    Hi Elisa, I'm so glad you like my post! You should try washing and drying your acrylic piece. That should even things out. Often times, the very tips of the ends you weaved in will emerge in the wash. Trim these as close to the fabric as you can. Right before I trim my ends close, I like to kind of sew through a stitch or two. Try to stick your needle into the yarn of a purl bump so that the needle is completely encased by the fibers. Then pull the end through and repeat once more on the next stitch over. You can then cut the yarn very close. Stretch the fabric just a little and the end should disappear inside.

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    Claudia
    almost 6 years ago

    After knitting with old and new yarn for 5 or 6 stitches , I then snip the old yarn and hold between the needles for a couple more stitches....no need to weave the end in. Just snip it off.

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    Alexis Winslow
    almost 6 years ago

    Thanks Claudia, I need to try that one!

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    Catherine
    almost 6 years ago

    Thank you for all of the helpful tips. I am certain that I will be using the one involving bulky yarns. Recently, I knit a linen shawl and your tip about joining new yarn at the end of the row would have been handy. I guess linen falls in the same category as cotton although I find it more challenging if the linen is a bit stiff and the individual plies can be a tad unruly!

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    Pamela Hans
    about 5 years ago

    Love this explanation - very helpful!

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    Jo Ann
    about 5 years ago

    Re knots: I have had good success with the magic knot, especially with non-animal fiber yarns (cotton, silk, bamboo) that will not stick together. It is very strong so you can trim the ends very close to make it virtually invisible.And if all else fails, a little fray check works wonders :)

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    Carlyn~
    about 2 years ago

    So, what do you recommend for super bulky #6, or jumbo #7 yarn like Bernat's discontinued BUG and Sophia Knit or Knot? With the huge diameter of the yarn and the single ply, I just can't come up with a way to both hide and secure any yarn changes, even just to add a skein. Changing colors might be a nightmare but without figuring this one out, I can't get past doing one skein projects. :-( I know it's being done, but working with roving is a LOT different than working with single ply "tube" yarn, but it also has the added benefit of being fuzzy which helps hide any "indiscretions." Thanks for any input! C~

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    Alexis Winslow
    about 2 years ago

    Hi Carlyn, I actually don't have much experience working with yarn in the Jumbo category. You could try securing the ends with a sewing needle and matching thread, or trimming the ply to a very long tapered point before weaving in. Please let us know in the comments if you have any suggestions or discoveries.

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    Susan
    11 months ago

    Hi, Thanks for your blogs. I truly appreciate your style. You are clear and succinct! Question: I’m knitting with 3 strands of cotton to get a dk gage. I usually use tip 5 above to anchor the ends and leave long tails. I then sew the ends in to hide them. I’m concerned that the cotton will slide out and I’ll have floating ends. I’m working top down so I won’t have seams. Any suggestions? Susan

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    Alexis Winslow
    11 months ago

    HI Susan—Thanks for your comment! I have done something similar in the past (check out my Arno Pullover, knitted with 2 strands of fingering weight yarn to make a marled effect). I would stagger the spot where I joined ends for the different strands. Use tip #5, but only drop one of the strands, work for at least a few inches, and repeat the process with the other strand(s). I would suggest strategically placing these spots on a side area to guard against the possibility of rogue ends working to the surface.

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