Knitting Bummer: Joining New Yarn

Here's one of my overlapping joins. You really can't see it at all! Note that this is pre-blocked, so when it's blocked it'll be impossible to find. Now, the puppy hair that's knit into the sweater? I think that'll be visible forever!

There's no getting around it: there are some knitting bummers that we just can't avoid. Joining a new ball of yarn is one of them, but I think I've finally figured it out.

I always try to join a new yarn at the edge of my piece of knitting, but there are some instances where that's not possible, such as when knitting in the round.

I'm currently working on the Lapis Yoke Pullover knit-along, which is knit in the round. On the body section, which is basically a tube, all of the yarn joins happen at about the same place—or within an inch or two of each other because of the waist shaping—so it's really important for yarn joins to look nice (or be invisible if possible!).

Throughout my knitting career I've been joining new balls by knitting a stitch with both the new and old yarns and then dropping the old yarn, just like all of the knitting instructions say. But I always got what looked like a twisted stitch! So frustrating.

So I switched to a method of simply starting the new ball on a new stitch without knitting the two yarns together. Technically it works, but it's not elegant. There's a hole that needs to be fixed when weaving in ends and the tension is so loose that I have to tie the end of the old ball and the tail of the new ball in a bow to secure them until I weave them in.

I was getting fed up with this technique so I decided to check my knitting Bible, Vicki Square's Knitter's Companion, to see what it recommended.

There are a lot of ideas for joining yarn in the Knitter's Companion, but I wanted to perfect the knitting with old and new yarns method.

I studied the entry and I realized that my mistake was that I was wrapping the yarn the wrong way and therefore making a twisted stitch. Here's the correct way to execute this join and avoid the bummer in the process!

Overlapping the Old and New Yarn

Use this joining method in an inconspicuous place, such as 1-2 inches from the side edge or in a textured area. This method is well suited for wools, synthetics, blends of any kind, and novelty yarns that are worsted-weight or finer. When worked with nonelastic yarns such as cotton and ribbon yarn, this join may be visible from the right side.


Step 1. Overlap the end of the old ball and the beginning of the new ball for about 6 inches.
Step 2. Work two stitches with the two strands held together as if there were a single strand.
Step 3. Drop the strand from the old ball and continue working with the new.
Step 4. On the next row, work the double-stranded stitches as if they were single-strand stitches. During finishing, secure the two loose ends by weaving them diagonally into the wrong side of the knitted fabric (weaving them horizontally or vertically may create a visible ridge on the right side).

—From The Knitter's Companion by Vicki Square

Now the trick here is how you position the new yarn with the old yarn. Take a look at the "Step 1" illustration above. See how the tail of the new yarn (shown in blue) points to the right and the end of the old yarn points to the left? that's the key. I was holding the tail and end of the old and new yarn together and not overlapping them correctly, creating a twisted stitch with the new yarn.

No more bummer!!

You can turn your bummers around, too, with The Knitter's Companion, now available in iPod app! It's the perfect companion when you want to know how to work a certain technique or when you just want to know how to knit something better.


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