Fair Isle Knitting: Weaving in Ends

Fresco Fair Isle Mitts
Fresco Fair Isle Mitts by Pam Allen

There are so many techniques to master when you’re working on a Fair Isle project.

You have to figure out how to manage two yarns. (I throw my contrasting color and pick my main color.)

You have to keep your yarn balls from getting hopelessly tangled. (I keep one ball on the right and one of the left. I also like the Ziplock bag method where you seal each ball in a bag and thread the yarn through a snipped corner.)

You have to keep even tension throughout the project without any of the dreaded puckering. (I’ve found the simplest way for me to avoid the pucker is to spread out the stitches on your right needle every inch or so. You don’t have to spread them too far apart, just far enough to make sure your tension is even and not pulling too much in one color or the other.)

When I was doing the Fresco Fair Isle Mitts knit-along, though, my biggest problem was all of the ends that were left hanging after the project was finished. Tons of them! It’s actually pretty easy to sew in ends in Fair Isle projects because you have two layers of yarn to work with so you can sew the ends into the inter later and they never show on the outer layer.

But there’s a way to weave in ends as you go so when you’re done, you’re done—after this in-line weaving method all you have to do is snip the ends so there’s about a fourth of an inch hanging free.

Knitting Daily TV host and Interweave Knits editor Eunny Jang is working on a really cool mitered scarf (which is available here) and in the process she demonstrates how to change colors and weave in the tail of the previous color as you go (at about 2:00 into the video). Take a look:

This method is also great to use to secure yarn when you need to carry it for more than four or five stitches. You can tack it down so there’s not a really long float that might catch on fingers in mittens or gloves, or toes in socks.

I weave-as-I-go all the time now. The process comes in handy any time I have to switch colors in a striping project, too. I’ve even woven in a tail when I’ve had to join a new ball in the middle of a row (not my favorite thing to do, but sometimes you just get caught short!).

I hope you’ll enjoy using this technique, and for even more tips and tricks for working Fair Isle knitting patterns, check out Eunny’s Knitting Daily Workshop Introduction to Fair Isle: The Ivy League Vest.

And please share your Fair Isle tips with me in the comments! What makes these projects easier for you to manage?

Cheers!

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