I am often asked by knitters I meet to suggest the best method of sewing in yarn ends at the end of a project. This is a topic that is often overlooked by knitting technique books, and a process that some people come to dread.
I’ve always been a bit of a seam-wiggler, to be honest, but what should you do with those smaller projects where there’s nowhere for the yarn ends to hide? Here we have put together some of the more common techniques, to give a refresher on what to do with those pesky threads.
Methods to try
1. Perhaps the most common method used for stocking stitch or garter stitch fabric is to weave a path with your yarn tail through the purl bumps on the reverse side of the work. The threads in these photographs are going from right to left. When you come to the end of the yarn, reverse direction and cross back through the strand you’ve woven in, sewing through the strand itself for extra security.
2. Occasionally you’ll find your thread will need to be woven diagonally - perhaps if you are working shapes in intarsia colourwork, or if there are a lot of ends in one area and you need to distribute them to avoid any lumpiness in your fabric. Again, reverse the direction when you reach the end to make a hook shape.
3. Duplicate stitch is always a great option, and the woven-in ends will be quite invisible from the right side of the work, as shown below. With a blunt needle threaded with your yarn end, follow the path the yarn takes across the row, trying to match the tension. You’ll need to work in pairs of purl bumps - up through one diagonally to the left, then through the one above it diagonally to the right. Then follow back down - go into the next purl bump in the row, then back into the first bump. Pull the fabric gently if the path to follow is unclear.
4. On reverse stocking stitch, the same principle applies for duplicate stitch, and again doesn’t show too much on the right side. We have shown contrasting yarns here so the stitches show up. On the wrong side, follow the path of the yarn across the row, this time going in under the two strands at the bottom of each knit stitch and then the inverted ‘V’ of the two stitches on the row below.
5. When weaving in yarns through a section of ribbing, wiggle the yarn in through the column of stitches vertically, so as not to affect the way the rib stretches. Using both sides of the column will help to distribute bulk, but depending on the pattern you may wish to use just one side, as with the next method.
6. Here the yarn has been woven in just using the left column of stitches, and then duplicate stitched around the lace and reverse stocking stitch on the wrong side of the ribbed sock cuff.
Top tips for a tidy result
- You’ll find splicing your yarn when you join in a new ball is helpful, as is weaving in ends as you go. Splicing is particularly helpful in lace work, where the ends are a little harder to hide.
- Always leave yarn ends of around 15-20cm for best results.
- If you’re working a garment with few ends, weave them in once the garment is sewn up - you’ll have more options for where to hide them.
- If you’re working intarsia, weave the ends in before all the pieces are sewn together after the first block.
- If you’re stuck with really short yarn ends, try using a crochet hook, a blunt needle backwards or threading the needle after you have already inserted the needle.