Joining Yarn in Lace Patterns
When you’re working a lace pattern, joining yarn can be a bit challenging. Lace is inherently light and sheer, so how the heck are you supposed to hide the yarn ends? There are a few workarounds you can use to reduce the number of ends to weave in.
First, you can buy your yarn in mega-skeins with more than enough yardage to finish your project. Some lace yarns come in skeins of 1,000 yards or more! However, this limits your yarn choices; your perfect yarn may not come in such large skeins.
Secondly, you can alternate two skeins of yarn throughout your project; that way, you only have to weave in tails at the beginning and end of the project. The downside to this method is that it limits the size of your project to two skeins—that definitely won’t work for a traditional Estonian shawl!
If you want to make a lace project with multiple skeins of yarn, you’ll need to figure out how to weave in ends invisibly. There are a few different approaches to hiding your tails in a lace project.
Join at the Edge
Most triangular and rectangular shawls have some sort of border at the end of each row, usually a few stitches worked in garter stitch. Between the bulkiness of garter stitch and the fact that no one really looks at the edge of your shawl, you can usually weave in the ends fairly invisibly along the edge.
While this is a perfectly good solution for projects worked back and forth in rows, it doesn’t work for projects worked in the round. For projects in the round, you’ll want to try one of the joining methods below.
This is one of those techniques that you either love or find disgusting.
1. Work until you have about 8″ of working yarn left, then get the tail of your working yarn wet (yes, I use spit; more genteel knitters may dip it into water).
2. Place the wet working tail parallel to your new strand of yarn in the palm of your hand with the tails going in opposite directions.
3. Rub your hands together rapidly to felt the two ends together.
Or try Vicki Square’s method, fluffing the yarn ends and twisting the two strands together:
Both techniques result in a nearly invisible join; you’ll end up with a slightly felted-looking section, which generally blends in fairly well with the rest of the project. Note that this method only works with feltable yarns such as wool or alpaca; if you try this with superwash wool or silk, you will just end up with two slightly damp pieces of yarn.
The Russian join is a clever way to “sew” two strands of yarn together. It weaves the ends into the strands of yarns rather than the fabric.
1. Work until about 8–10″ of yarn remains, then loop the end of the new yarn around the end of the old yarn so that about a 3″ tail of yarn on each length is overlapping.
2. Insert the tapestry needle through the core of the old yarn so that the eye is close to the point where both yarns are looped together, then thread the tail of the same strand through the eye of the needle.
3. Pull the needle through the length of yarn, bringing the tail out where the needle tip emerged.
4. Repeat steps 2 and 3 with the new yarn.
5. Grasp one of the linked loops between your thumb and finger, then pull on the tail end of the other strand until its loop is almost completely pulled through the core of the strand.
6. Pull on the tail end of the other strand until its loop is buried in the core of the strand as well. Smooth out the yarns and trim off the tail ends.
This results in a slightly thicker join than the spit-splice method, but still makes a continuous piece of yarn that blends into the fabric fairly well. It also works with any kind of fiber—wool, cotton, even acrylic!
Try one of these joining methods on your next project and you’ll never have to weave in ends again! Have you used one of these methods, or do you use another technique to hide your yarn tails? Let me know in the comments!
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