“Weaving in ends is the best part of knitting,” said no knitter ever! There is something daunting about this sometimes-monumental task. You’ve put hours into your project and have finally cast off that last stitch, hurrah! Oh, but wait, now you have anywhere from two to a hundred and two ends to weave in, ugh! How quickly that cheer turns into fear can be disheartening to say the least.
There are so many different ways to weave in ends it can be hard to know what’s best. I always recommend trying as many techniques as you can to find the ones that work best for you, and fortunately, there are lots of online videos that give step-by-step demonstrations to choose from. Today, I’d like to share some simple techniques that work well for me.
Whenever possible, join new yarns at an edge. If the piece is to be seamed, weave the tails into the seam once completed as this provides a snug ridge to bury the tails and ensures they won’t pop out to the right side of the fabric. It’s not always possible to join new yarns at an edge in which case, consider your pattern. If you’re making a sleeved garment for example, try to join new yarns in inconspicuous areas such as along the sides under the arm. If your pattern is cabled, the twist of the cable creates a dense area that is ideal for discreetly weaving in ends.
Like everything in knitting, personal preference plays a huge role in how you choose to deal with your yarn tails. Many knitters knit their ends in, but I prefer to weave my ends in with a darning needle, and I use both a blunt needle and a sharp. I use the blunt needle for the majority of the weaving and switch to a sharp so that I can pierce the last few stitches for extra security. Once the ends are woven in, I trim them to two inches and then proceed with blocking. When the blocking is complete, I then trim all ends flush with the fabric. This allows the ends to settle and results in less tails sneaking out and showing up on the right side of the fabric.
It helps to be able to identify your stitches when weaving in ends. In both stocking stitch and garter stitch, there are visible bumps in the ridges of stitches on the wrong side of the fabric. These bumps are going to be your guide to weaving and are often referred to by knitters as “smiles” and “frowns.”
For the purpose of this article, I have used a contrast colour to better demonstrate, and the last photo in each block shows the right side of the fabric with the ends woven in using a constrast yarn.
The first rule of thumb when weaving in ends is to always weave them in on the wrong side of the fabric. In stocking stitch, I weave diagonally in one direction and then in the opposite direction. Using a blunt needle, insert the needle under and through a smile and then angle it slightly to insert it into the adjacent frown in the same ridge. Always working on an angle, go up a ridge to the next smile, insert the needle in the smile and then the adjacent frown. Continue in this manner for five or six ridges, and then work in the opposite direction for another five or six ridges.
Similar ridges are present in garter stitch, only there is a little more space between each one. You can easily use the method above however I prefer to do something similar to a duplicate stitch. Insert the darning needle into a frown, angle it slightly to the right and insert it through the smile in the ridge above. Working in the same ridge, insert the needle through the next smile from top to bottom, and then angle it slightly to the right to go back through the first frown on the ridge below. Next bring the needle through the next frown and up through the smile that your yarn previously went down through. You should now be able to see how the tail is duplicating the stitches. Continue working the tail across several stitches to secure it in place.
Ribbing is probably the easiest place to hide yarn tails. On the wrong side of the fabric, insert the needle from right to left in the right leg of a knit stitch and continue in this manner for several stitches. Move over to the left leg of the stitch and, working from right to left, repeat the process in the opposite direction.
Knitting the tails along with the working yarn is another popular method for working in ends. Simply knit the first stitch with the new yarn and then work several stitches using the tail and the working yarn. On subsequent rows, treat all double stitches as one. This method can create a slightly larger stitch that is unnoticeable in fine to medium weight yarns, though I would not recommend this for bulky yarns as it would be more visible.
Another way to work in the ends as you are knitting is to carry the tail as you would a float in stranded knitting. If you are using wool, especially fine weights of wool, this method is wonderful as it can provide just enough friction to slight felt the ends, thus securing them nicely.
Whatever technique you choose, one thing to remember is that practice makes perfect. Many knitters take years before they find themselves comfortable weaving in ends so don’t get discouraged if it doesn’t look perfect the first time you try. The next one will look better, and the next one even better than that!
What’s your favourite way to weave in ends? Leave us a comment in the comments section, we love learning new tricks too!