A Slick Way to Weave In Slippery Ends

I'm literally zooming up the shoulders of the Drawstring Raglan (from Summer Knits 2008) and I only have about thirty more rows to go. It's a fun section, because each row is shorter than the last due to the raglan decreases. Whoo!

I was getting really excited about that, until I realized I had a gadzillion ends to weave in. OK, I just counted, and so far, I have 31 ends to wrangle. Eek. Weaving in ends. Not so much fun.

I've noticed a fair number of requests asking for helping with weaving in ends, particularly with yarns like this one, slick and shiny and just a bit slippery. So, let's have a little adventure in end-wrangling, shall we?

Let me preface this by saying: There are many ways to handle yarn ends. You, as Fearless Knitter, have to evaluate your particular knitting situation and choose the method that suits both your fabric and your yarn best. A method that works with a fuzzy stockinette fabric may not work as well in a slick silky lace shawl. So it's best to arm yourself with several methods, and, as the gentleman in Indiana Jones would say: "Choose wisely."

In any yarn-tail weaving situation, you have several basic objectives. You want to weave in the ends so that: (a) they are hidden from the front side of the garment, (b) they do not distort the fabric in any noticeable way, (c) they do not make a stretchy fabric less stretchy, and (d) they stay woven in.

A Method For Weaving In Silky, Slick Ends in an Open Fabric

I knit my Drawstring Raglan (Knits Summer 2008, did I say that already?) in the yarn called for in the pattern: Berroco Seduce, a shiny, half-slippery, half-rough blend of linen, silk, rayon, and nylon. The yarn is slightly thick-and-thin; for you yarn nerds, its construction is a three-ply base held together with a shiny binding thread.

The lace skirt of the jacket is made up of 5 colors distributed amongst 13 stripes; the stripes are too far apart (methinks) to carry the colors up along the edges as one might normally do in a striped fabric. Therefore, I'm going to have to weave in a bunch of ends.

Considerations: I don't want the woven-ends ends to show; I certainly do not want them to come undone. The additional consideration here is that most of the ends will be woven into a lacy, rather stretchy fabric; I do not want to destroy this property of the lace.

Here's how I manage all those silky, multicolored ends:

1. I try really, really hard to change yarns at the end of a row.
2. I tie both ends, old and new, together using a loose overhand knot, leaving about six to eight inches of both ends. (This knot is just to hold the yarns in tension while I knit; it will be undone later.)
3. I knit until several inches past the yarn change, creating enough fabric to give the area around the yarn change a bit of stability.
4. When I am ready to weave in the ends, I untie the overhand knot, and thread one of the ends through the eye of a yarn needle.

5. Working on the wrong side of the fabric, I weave the needle through the first couple of "purl bumps," up and down through each purl bump.
6. This is a lace pattern, so I do not want to run the yarn tail across any of the holes in the pattern. Instead, I make sure the thread follows the stitches already there, weaving in and out of various stitches as I go. Sometimes I go up, sometimes I go down; but I never cross over a lace "hole" and I never cross over into another color.
7. Important: I do NOT pull the yarn tail tight as I am weaving. I try to match the tension of the yarn-forming-stitches that I am weaving into.
8. Every couple of stitches, I use the needle to "split" the yarn in the next stitch I am weaving into, so that the yarn does not just go "next to" other stitches, it literally goes through them. (This will help keep the yarn from slipping out of place.)
9. After weaving in and out and through for a couple of inches, I carefully snip the yarn tail close to the wrong side of the fabric.
10. I repeat the above for the other ends in this area–however, I try to weave in other directions, in other rows, so that not all the ends are packed into a single small area.
11. Final step: I give the fabric a gentle tug in all directions in the area where the yarn was woven in, to ensure that there is still plenty of elasticity and drape in that section

This all might seem like a lot of work, but I've seen a lot of badly woven-in ends that were visible flaws in otherwise gorgeous garments. So listen to an audiobook, turn on the TV, and take some time to weave in those ends properly, and you'll save yourself from feeling like you have to make excuses later: "Oh, don't look at that part, that part didn't work out so well." Be proud of every last stitch!

Want to learn more about finishing your sweaters? The Knitter's Companion has an entire chapter on seaming, including some of the best diagrams I have ever seen. Those diagrams have saved many a seam in my sweaters (thank you, Vicki!)

Have any other tips for how to weave in ends with slippery yarns? Leave a comment!
— Sandi

Sandi Wiseheart is the editor of Knitting Daily.

 What's on Sandi's needles? Shoulders of the Drawstring Raglan. What's on Sandi's spinning wheel? Awesome handpainted alpaca fiber that badly wants to become a shawl when it grows up. What's in Sandi's sink? A brand new Corriedale fleece, being scoured and rinsed!

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