Joining new yarn in knitting – 7 ways

Knit & Crochet Saturday at Stitch This!

When I first learned how to knit and needed to join yarn in a project, my instinct was to knot the knitted yarn and the new yarn together at the ends. (Hey, I heard that gasp!) Turns out my newbie intuition was waaay off the mark. A knot would, over time, certainly untie itself. Nothing like having a sweater start to unravel, right about chest level, while you’re chowing down with friends at the local Olive Garden. Yikes!

Now that I’ve progressed in my knitting—and read about how experienced knitters do things—I’ve discovered that there are a lot of different techniques out there for getting one thing done. Like joining yarn.

In this how-to-knit tutorial (we’re building up an arsenal of them for you!), you’ll learn that joining new yarn in knitting can be done in several ways. In the book A to Z of Knitting, for instance, three different ways of joining yarn are covered. Let’s take a look at the joining-yarn techniques from the book, plus a few others from ’round the web.


Joining In a New Yarn at the Beginning of a Row: Method One


1. Take your right needle through the first stitch on your left needle. Leaving a tail of yarn at least 4″ (10 cm) long, loop the new yarn around your right needle.

2. Using the new yarn, work approximately six stitches.

3. Tie the two tails of yarn together at the beginning of the row with a single knot.

4. After the piece is finished, undo the knot and finish off the tails of yarn by weaving them into a seam or the back of the knitting.

Joining In a New Yarn at the Beginning of a Row: Method Two


1. Leaving a tail of yarn at least 4″ (10 cm) long, tie a new yarn around the old yarn with a single knot.

2. Push the knot along the old yarn until it is close to the first stitch.

3. Stitch using the new yarn.

4. When finished, undo the knot and finish off the tails of yarn by weaving them into a seam or the back of the knitting.

Joining In a New Yarn in the Middle of a Row


1. Take your right needle through the next stitch on your left needle. Leaving a tail of yarn at least 4″ (10 cm) long, loop the new yarn around your right needle.

2. Using the new yarn, work to the end of the row.

3. Loosely tie the two tails of yarn together.

4. When finished, undo the knot and finish off the tails of yarn by weaving them into the back of the knitting.

Other techniques for joining yarn include a felted join—otherwise known as “spit-splicing” (yep, it means exactly what you think it means). Very Pink has an excellent video tutorial for the technique, which you can use specifically for animal fibers:

This clever Russian-join technique, shared by Crochetspot, can be used to join yarn in multicolored knitting.

Russian join

If you knit Continental style, Scrapdash has a nice, clear photo tutorial on how to stitch a new yarn into your existing work:

weaving ends in

And finally, check out this clever invisible braided join from lori1551 on YouTube–thanks to ScrapDash above for introducing us to this idea!

A-Z of KnittingHere are a few final tips for joining yarn from A to Z of Knitting, a tell-all technique book with more than 1000 close-up photographs featuring real hands holding real yarn and needles (so, so helpful!).

  • To ensure you have enough yarn to finish a knit or purl row, allow a length of yarn approximately four times the width of the piece of knitting. If you’re working a complicated pattern, you’ll probably have to add more.
  • Always pull enough yarn from the ball to complete a row before you begin the row. This way you can check if there are any knots that are likely to appear in unwanted places.
  • If you need to join in a new yarn in the middle of a row, try to place the join as invisibly as possible, for example, at the edge of a cable.

There you have it—seven effective ways to join, connect, unite, and bond old yarn to new. Experiment and find your favorite!


Do you have a favorite technique for joining yarn in knitting or crochet? Let us know in the comments what works best for you.

Be sure to “Like” Martingale on Facebook for frequent news, how-tos, and freebies. Follow us on Ravelry too!


22 Comments (leave a comment)

  • I use the method shown here for joining in the middle of a row – I think I worked it out for myself (I’ve been knitting a long time so the memory is a little rusty!). I’m going to watch the videos to see what I may have been missing!

    —Valerie46 on July 7, 2012
  • Fabulous post! I have only tried the "join at the beginning of a row" so far….tried both methods. Now I want to try the others! LOL
    Thanks so much!

    Jacque on July 7, 2012
  • I use something like the braided join, but I wet it and felted the join by rolling it with my fingers and palms to keep the ends from splaying out. (Typically I knit with wool)

    —claudia on July 10, 2012
  • Love the braided join as well as the other methods! I must confess, I always knotted my two pieces together thinking that was the sure fire way of them staying together! Learned something new! Thanks!

    —Jan staples on July 13, 2012
  • It sure beats the Russian join which was sometimes too thick at the join especially when pulling beads through.

    —Jean on September 4, 2012
  • Thanks so much for very clear methods demonstrated on video of how to join yarn. The braided method was new to me, and something I will give a try, as it does look very strong.

    —Wenzyl on July 20, 2013
  • Depending upon the fiber, whether it’s man made /plant / animal, it’s good to remember several techniques to join together. I usually join yarn in the middle of the row because it helps with keeping even tension. An exception to this would be color block scarves. A way from keeping braided/Russian joins from getting too thick is to cut off one ply from each end of yarn you’re joining, which means you should probably leave about 7 inches on each end to join with just in case you need extra.

    —Jacob on August 16, 2013
  • How do you attach yarn when you’re making a 2-needle mitten, have done & sewn the thumb and you are now supposed to "attach yarn" to the end of the row?

    —Colleen on September 18, 2013
  • I would love a version that I could print out without all the "conversation" at the end. Sorry this comment isn’t about joing yarn but felt the need to express it. thank you, grace

    Grace Schneider on November 7, 2013
  • The braided join is interesting but it reduces the elasticity of the yarn. It is not a visually obvious join but very obvious to the touch. The Russian join is terrific for bi-color; it is sturdy and not noticeable.

    —CJ on December 13, 2013
  • Grace, If you make a copy of this pattern, highlight, cut and paste the sections you want. Then you won’t have the ‘conversations’ included.
    Or, you could just highlight the whole page and paste it, then delete the parts you don’t want to keep. I’ve done this for many patterns and it always works. Have fun. 🙂

    Thank you, Martingale, for this interesting article about joining yarns. I only knew of a couple of these methods before. 🙂

    —Jo-Anne Lemaire on January 26, 2014
  • Today, I saw another version of the Braided Join. It’s sort of a cross between the Russian Join and the Braided Join you show above. It’s at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kHWbKOta02M
    You might want to add it to your collection.

    —Jessica-Jean on February 21, 2014
  • I haven’t tried it yet but this method that I found on Pinterest looks the most invisible to me:

    http://www.pinterest.com/pin/154389093445364151/

    I have been knitting for decades and can’t believe I’m still tying knots! Cant wait to try this one.

    —Jeanie on March 27, 2014
  • Achei interessante e muito bem explicado vou tentar….Obrigada!

    Translation:
    I found it interesting and very well explained I’ll try ….Thank You!

    —aneusa on May 12, 2014
  • Thanks for the braided join video. I’m familiar with the other joins but none were satisfactory for the sleek 100% Pima yarn I’m using that is a mere 105 YDS in length and made of about eight strands. (I may sound like a whiner, but why make such a short yardage? It is a joining nightmare…but such beautiful thread I bought it on sale.). With this yarn I don’t have to worry about losing elasticity, but I do worry about the loss of smooth texture across the joins. I don’t like the Russian join for this, and can’t use other fuse methods acceptable with wool, for example.

    I would like to see a video on "weaving invisibly" into the back of the knit. I’m picky I admit, but hold the knit to the light and it looks awful.

    —Mari on May 25, 2014
  • How sad that you’ve chosen to perpetuate the "no knots in knitting" myth. For slippery yarns like silk, bamboo, & rayon, & other non-fuzzy fibers, like cotton & linen, none of the methods you suggest will hold over time. They’re not all that useful, either, when working lace with thin yarn & a large needle. A properly tied knot is essential.

    While a square knot can work loose, a weavers knot, surgeons knot, or "Magic Knot" (non-knitting name Fisherman’s knot) will stay secure. You can trim the ends or knit them in for a few stitches as you choose. In order to reclaim some lovely yarn, I’m still picking knots out of a top & skirt knitted some 40 years ago. The knots have held just fine through years of wearing & washing.

    It can be quite difficult to make a braided join in anything other than wool. The tension needs to be perfect. Too loose & it slips apart before you can knit it; too tight & it forms a hard, visible lump. This is true even in a wool/cotton blend. As for the Russian Join, Techknitter’s Back Join http://techknitting.blogspot.com/2007/07/back-to-back-join.html is less fussy & works just as well. It also works for thin or single-ply yarns where a Russian Join is not possible.

    BTW, you’ll find recommendations for how & when to use knots in classic knitting instructions from Mary Thomas (Mary Thomas’s Knitting Book) through Barbara Walker (Knitting From the Top) to June Hiatt (Principles of Knitting).

    —Mary Lee G on July 14, 2014
  • I was helped by your demonstration of joining two woollen yarns together and tried it immediately with great success. I especially liked the way you demonstrated the technique, we could see your smiling face instead. Of watching a faceless demonstration. Thank you very much,
    Tanya

    —Tanya on November 13, 2014
  • I like the skimming-in method from Techknitter here: http://techknitting.blogspot.com/2007/07/part-1-of-working-in-ends-with-sewing.html

    On something like my scrap socks, which use about 40 different yarns, the Weaver’s Knot is the most practical. I’ve never liked the added thickness that weaving-in produces.

    —Rochelle on May 20, 2015
  • If I am working on a shawl or other project that is reversible and need to join new yarn, I lay about 2″ of new yarn across top of work, then knit or purl a stitch, bring the new 2″ yarn to back and do next stitch, then forward again until the end is woven in. I do the same with the old strand of yarn until it is woven in. The back and forth weaving into pattern creates a smooth transition and there are no loose ends. Works great for me. You must use the weave in method otherwise the strand will show and is easily pulled out.

    —Marcheta on June 21, 2015
  • Thanks for the info but… how about matching types of yarn (boucle, multi-thread, jersey knits…) with a specific. Type of joint technique? Do you have a reference for that?

    —Hosleyn on July 5, 2017
  • Thanks that was brilliant. I used the braid method on a three ply yarn. Perfect. Thank you so much.

    —Sandra Westfall on October 19, 2017
  • All of those methods have a fail rate of about 50%. The best knot is a "magic knot" which is actually a nautical knot that wont fail. Weaving your ends properly is essential. You all might benefit watching tutorials and for me, kids are hard on knits so I always use knots there. Sorry for typos. No glasses.

    —Nena on October 23, 2017

Leave a comment

*Indicates required field