My recently published Darling Dotty design is a larger shawl that uses two skeins of yarn. That means, somewhere into your knitting, your first ball will finish and you’ll have to introduce a new skein.
There are a number of ways to join yarn and I had a play with quite a few when I was knitting my Darling Dotty. After trying them out, I decided some were better than others and some were easier than others and I thought it’d be helpful to talk about joining lightweight yarn and show you my favourite methods.
Where to join?
When you’re knitting a shawl it’s a good idea to join your yarn in the body of the shawl rather than the edge. It’s more noticeable at the edge and as the edges get really stretched out, there’s a risk everything might unravel over time.
I also try to change my yarn in an area that isn’t too fussy or patterned. That way you’ll avoid getting confused with double stitches or extra lengths of yarn when you’re trying to negotiate your way around a fiddly stitch and your textured stitches won’t look interrupted.
In my Darling Dotty Shawl I avoided changing yarn at a dot or bobble stitch. I added my new yarn in the stocking stitches in between. I also like to change yarn on a right side row to keep things simple.
I avoid knots in shawl knitting. In fact, I don’t tend to knot my yarn at all. There are some fancy knots that apparently hold well but I’m not sure how they stand up over time. Plus, a good stretched blocking for shawls puts more pressure on knots that they might get in something like a hat or sweater. There’s nothing worse than a short length of yarn wriggling free and making a big hole in your precious knitting so I stick to other methods of joining.
Fusing two ends of yarn together?
Firstly, I looked at two methods of fusing my yarn together. A felted join and a Russian join. Both involve separating the strands of yarn into their individual threads and working them back together as one single piece.
The felted join involves rubbing and felting the two yarns together. While it might be a good option for a pure wool that felts easily, it doesn’t work where you have a high percentage of super wash yarn or silk/cotton in your yarn because it won’t felt no matter how much you rub them. It was hopeless for my merino/silk blend.
The Russian join involves looping and sewing your threads together. It’s fiddly and again, when you’re using a yarn that contains a high percentage of slippery fibre I found it wriggled free.
The other things that put me off these two methods was the time it took to do them. They weren’t quick and simple and I couldn’t gauge where the join would fall in my knitting. Overall, they made me nervous!
In the end I found two methods that I liked best and both are straightforward, secure and fairly discrete.
Knitting both yarns together for a few stitches
My go-to method of joining yarn is to grab my new yarn and, leaving a tail of a few inches for each, knit it together with my old yarn for three or so stitches. It secures the yarn in place, I can decide exactly where and when I want to join my yarn and it’s simple.
I can leave my tails of yarn hanging until I’m finished or I can weave them in a couple of rows on. The back of my knitted join is the bottom example in the photo above and you can see my ends hanging waiting to be dealt with.
If you’re going to try this method, avoid tugging your ends of yarn until you come back to deal with them later. The idea is that the two pieces of yarn in each of the stitches settles into place together and if you vigorously pull on one or both ends, you’ll muck up the tension of each piece of yarn within the stitches. A gentle pull to settle everything down before weaving your ends away is all that’s needed.
I weave my ends away with needle. I slip them through the loops on either side of my join for about three or four stitches and then leave my ends hanging until after I’ve blocked my shawl. If you cut them off too early they’re likely to slither back and unravel a bit.
Adding new yarn without knitting two yarns together
This method is involves simply dropping your old yarn and adding your new yarn in your next stitch. Actually, it’s best not to drop your old yarn but instead old it firmly in place with your fingers while you add your new yarn. Leave yourself a long tail of both yarns and then tie them into a bow behind your work and keep knitting. You can see my bow in the top example in the photo above.
The benefit of this method is that all of your stitches stay the same size, they don’t thicken as they do with the “knitting both yarns together” method.
You can leave your bow until you’ve finished knitting or you can choose to weave in your ends earlier. When weaving in your ends, take care to close the hole between the two stitches where you started your new yarn. For the best result, cross your yarns and work them in opposite directions, slipping them through the loops of yarn from other stitches either above or below your join. Again, leave long tails until you’ve blocked your shawl and then snip them off. It’s especially important for this join because there’s no weaving in of stitches where you’ve started your new yarn.
In the end I used the first join – knitting both yarns together for a few stitches. But in fact, I’m keen on both joins. There’s not really too much to tell between them when looking at them lying flat but I quite like the knitting both yarns together method slightly better.
When you hold them up to the light they’re also pretty similar. Although the top one, where I added yarn without knitting the two yarns together is probably a wee bit neater. Given they’re so close, I don’t think it matters which one you choose and I’d suggest picking the one that you find the easiest.
What do you use to join your yarn? Do you have a favourite method for shawls? I’d love to hear it.
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