No matter how small your knitting project is, it is always necessary to weave in at least two ends: the excess yarn at the cast on edge and the excess yarn at the bound off edge. When you get into more complicated projects with multiple color changes and big projects that use multiple balls of yarn, you might find yourself left with quite a few loose ends to tie up.
Here are some tips for making the most of your weaving experience.
Before You Start Weaving In Ends
Make sure that you leave about six inches of yarn anywhere you will need to weave in ends. You can just eyeball this; it doesn't have to be perfect. You'll need at least six inches, though, if you want to use a tapestry or yarn needle to weave in your ends, which is an easier and neater way to do it than using a crochet hook.
If possible, plan where your ends will go for ease of weaving and comfort in the finished garment. Start a new ball of yarn at the edge of the work whenever possible. Try to avoid placing a thread that needs to be woven in a conspicuous or uncomfortable place, such as the bottom of the foot of a sock or the middle back of a shawl.
If you don't have control over where your ends end up, the least you can do for looks and the comfort of the wearer is to avoid tying the two pieces of yarn together. An easy way to do this is to hold both strands of yarn together, still leaving a six inch tail on each, and knit the next stitch (or the first stitch of the row, wherever you are) holding both strands together. This will make that one stitch a little bulkier than the surrounding stitches, but it shouldn't be noticeable on the finished product. Just remember when you get to the next row to treat that stitch as one stitch instead of two.
It seems like every knitter has her or his own way to weave in ends. There is no right or wrong way to do it. As long as your process accomplishes the goals of weaving in the ends, you've done it the right way.
What are the "goals" of weaving in ends?
- To hide the ends of the yarn, making it invisible on the right side.
- To prevent the yarn from unraveling, potentially taking your project with it.
- To make the project look nicer and wear more comfortably than it would with excess yarn lurking about.
Ask 10 different knitters how they weave in ends and you're likely to get 10 different responses. Here are some of the most popular:
Thread your needle and work the yarn through some of the stitches on the wrong side of the piece. Working through purl loops is the most popular, as the loops hide the extra yarn well. Some people work straight across a row, while others weave diagonally up for a few rows and then back parallel to the first row. Still others will work a few stitches straight across and then move up or down into the next row and work a few more stitches. Another option is to work straight up or down, staying close to the edge of the piece.
Use duplicate stitching. This is an embroidery technique that is often used as a way to decorate a finished knitted project. The yarn is stitched onto the work in exactly the same pattern that was used to knit the project, literally duplicating the knit or purl stitches in the finished fabric. This makes an incredibly strong weave that is invisible. This process doesn't work well with all patterns and is best with worsted weight or thinner yarn. Otherwise the duplicated stitches will look really bulky.
Choosing the right weaving in method for you is a matter of experimentation. Do what looks good to you and what you can accomplish easily. Many knitters hate this part, but it doesn't have to be frustrating. Just do what works for you, and that is the right way to do it.
Other Tips for Weaving in Yarn
- If you're working on a big project or a project with a lot of stripes that will have a lot of ends to weave in, don't leave them all until you are finished with the project. The last thing you want is to have to weave in 50 ends in one sitting (which happened to me when I finished the Blue Lagoon baby blanket, which has color changes every four to six rows). There will be days when you're tired of knitting; this is a perfect project for those times.
- Check your progress on the right side of the garment as you work. Make sure that the ends are not peeking through to the right side. It's fine if they aren't perfectly invisible on the wrong side, but make sure they don't show on what will be the front.
- If you're working on a project like a scarf or throw that doesn't have an obvious front and back, do your best to make the woven in ends as inconspicuous as possible. Hiding the weaving in the edge of the work is a good option.
- Be patient. Weaving in ends can be a time-consuming process, but remember that with every stitch you are making your garment stronger and longer lasting. And just think, as soon as you weave in the ends, you can start enjoying your finished project!