How to work the felted join (aka the spit splice)
There are many ways to join a new yarn, but I think the most invisible method is wet felting, which is a type of splice. Splicing forms an invisible join that can be used anywhere in a row. It secures two yarns together without adding a bump, and eliminates the need to work in ends. Hooray!
Wet felting is an especially nice join when knitting colorwork patterns, or when you find that dreaded knot in your ball of yarn. Here's Patty Lyons, presenter of the new video workshop An Introduction to Color Knitting, to show you how it works.
The Felted Join
Who amongst us loves to weave in ends…raise your hand. Nobody? That's what I thought. Meet one of my all time favorite tips, the felted join.
This little marvel can be done with any (non superwash) animal fibers. It works great on 100% animal fibers, but don't count those blends out, experiment with them. How well wet felting works will depend on the grip of the blend. Every animal fiber has a different scale profile (with the exception of silk, the only protein fiber with no scales). Some fibers have many small smooth scales, others have larger rough scales. It's the scales of the animal protein fiber that grab onto each other.
|Scales of various wools; scales want to hold hands and felt!|
I've successfully wet felted blends with as little as 40 percent wool, but it was a very grippy wool.
The other thing I love about this method is no WASTE!! When you are working with cashmere, or your precious handspun, you want to use every last inch.
When you get near the end of your ball of yarn, or need to add a new color, you can do your felted join. Make sure to leave yourself ten inches or so of the old ball, so you have enough room to maneuver, but once joined, you can knit every inch of your yarn!
Begin by cutting away half of the plys off each end of yarn (Figure 1). I usually cut away about an inch. If you are working with a single ply, you can untwist the yarn and pull away some of the ply. Many tutorials skip this step, but please don't. If you just felt the two ends together you will get a fat bump in your yarn.
Overlap the yarn tails together at around a half-inch from the end. The overlap should be in the middle of the cut-away plys (Figure 2).
Fold the cut-away ply ends back on the yarn, so you create two interlocking loops (Figure 3). Wet your fingers a bit (yes I use spit…hence the other name of this join, spit splice) and twist the cut ends so they stick to the yarn (Figure 4). This will help control the main splice.
|Figure 3, left; Figure 4, right|
Once the ends have been twisted, you can put the overlapping loops in the palm of your hand (Figure 5), and add a bit more of the magical splicing ingredient—your saliva. I usually just lick my palm before placing the ends in. Yeah, you heard me right, I lick my palm. What? I washed my hands first!
Finally, rub your palms together until you start to feel some heat (Figure 6). Remember the magical ingredients to create felt, animal fiber + liquid + agitation = felt. If you get a bit of fuzz on either side of the join, just move the fuzzy part to the middle of your palm and give another few rubs to smooth it down.
|Figure 6||The finished splice—perfection!|
Ta-da! Two balls of yarn fused together as if they were one. Beautiful!
Wet Felting in Striped Colorwork
The wet felting method is great to use when you're knitting stripes. Here's how to make the color change so it sits right at the end of the row.
1. Work to the end of the row of color 1.
2. Pinch the yarn right at the last stitch, tight to the needle, and cut the yarn leaving just enough to grip (about a half- to three-quarter inch). Then unknit a few inches, so you have six- to ten-inches of the color 1 yarn.
3. Work the felted join.
4. Knit to the end of the row again with color 1, and color 2 will be joined right where you want it!
—Patty Lyons, An Introduction to Color Knitting
After you do the felted join once, you'll use it all the time. It really is quite magical.
To see the wet-felted splice in action, along with a ton of other cool colorwork techniques, check out Patty's new video workshop, An Introduction to Color Knitting (you can download the video, or order the DVD). As always, Patty has lots of little tricks and tips to make knitting colorwork easy and fun!