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Tips for Weaving in Ends and Assessing Mistakes

Dec 7, 2009

At Knitting Daily, we define fearless knitting as facing your knitting fears, mastering them, and then using those previously feared knitting situations with gusto.

We've just published a new book, Fearless Knitting Workbook by Jennifer E. Seiffert, that embodies all of those ideals perfectly. I received a copy in the mail last week, and I sat down to flip through it to choose a couple of tips to pass on to you. Remember when you were in school (or maybe you're in school now!) and you'd read with a highlighter in hand to mark the important passages? Well I had to ban highlighters from my pencil cup because I highlighted everything, which sort of defeated the purpose!

I was transported back to those over-highlighting days but with sticky notes instead of a bright yellow pen: There are so many tips and tricks worthy of Knitting Daily, the book was littered with Post-Its!

I managed to narrow it down, though, and here's a finishing tip for you (I'll bet you've got a couple of gift items that will benefit from this tip).

Weaving in Ends
by Jennifer E. Seiffert, from Fearless Knitting Workbook

Weave in ends securely so they do not ravel during use or cleaning. Weave an end in one direction, then go back in the opposite direction for a few stitches to anchor the tail. Sometimes I also like to split the yarn of the stitches being weaved into, for added security.

Weave the ends in so that they are invisible from the right side. For a piece that will be seamed, weave the tails in the seam allowance. If there is no seam allowance, weave the tail into the fabric, matching the direction the yarn was coming from or going toward to prevent a hole from forming. Put just enough tension on the yarn tail so that the join can't be seen on the right side—pulling too tightly will make the fabric pucker. Weave into solid areas, not openwork. Weave diagonally if that will make the result more invisible. If you are weaving in multiple tails near the same spot, weave them in different directions so the fabric doesn't become too thick in one place. I like to weave over and under a few stitches pulling the tail snug, then stretching the fabric to allow the tail to achieve the length it will need to maintain elasticity.

Different ways to  weave in ends. Front view of the sample at left. You can
see which methods show more on the
front than others.


There seem to be two schools of knitting (with a half of a school in the middle): those who rip out rows to fix mistakes and those who keep on trucking. I'm in the latter school, with occasional side trips to the "middle school" of ripping out.  

Below are some words of wisdom from Jennifer Seiffert and Fearless Knitting Workbook that might just change your outlook on knitting, or at least give you something to think about when you make a mistake. Jennifer is a knitting teacher who has mentored many a new knitter into a fearless knitter!

Assessing Mistakes

When must you fix mistakes, and when can you leave them alone? This may be more of a question for Dr. Phil than for your knitting teacher. I've had students who had to fix absolutely every mistake or problem and would rather rip out and re-knit their work several times than leave a mistake in place. Then there are other students (fewer in number) who are very relaxed about mistakes, I myself am a recovering perfectionist, who eventually learned that "done is better than perfect."

The best knitting teachers will tell you, "There are no knitting police." This is true and in that spirit, here are my thoughts about when to fix mistakes.

When the mistake affects the structure or size of the finished piece. For example, if the right and left fronts of the sweater aren't the same length or if your gauge is off, and the garment is not going to fit.

When the mistake cascades into more and more problems. A missed yarnover in a lace pattern affects the stitch count, which destroys the lace pattern in subsequent rows.

When fixing the mistake will be an opportunity to learn how to do it right. Self explanatory.

When the project is a gift and the mistake will be discoverable by the recipient. Have enough respect for the recipient to do your best work. But if the recipient is a young boy who doesn't care if all the cables cross in the same direction, you needn't care either.

These are just a couple of items from the Fearless Knitting Workbook. I hope this whets your appetite for more!



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mjt.knit wrote
on Dec 12, 2009 6:01 PM

I was so excited to buy Fearless Knitting and eagerly began reading only to meet the following sentence on page 10 " It's important to note that the instructions and illustrations in this book are based on the English style of knitting.........If you knit in the continental method of holding the yarn in your left hand, you may need to make adjustments".  I was astonished and felt somewhat duped about the value of this book.   I'm an advanced beginner continental knitter and now feel that this book will not help me advance my skills.  I wouldn't have bought this book from Interweave( and promoted by Knitting Daily) if I'd known this.

on Dec 10, 2009 7:46 AM

Have used your weaving in ends technique on my daughter's aran pattern poncho - thank you the tip cam just at the right moment!

 On a related issue - I have an aran cardigan I made ages ago but there is a big hole in the elbow, which is patterned.  Do you have any advice or know where I can find out how to repair it?

Thank you


on Dec 8, 2009 9:42 AM

Hi Annette and April. We can't change our retail price, sorry!

Thanks for asking. Kathleen

Mary KateM wrote
on Dec 8, 2009 8:11 AM

Years ago in Ireland I was told that the fisherman knits--originally made with distinct patterns for a fisherman husband or son so they could be identified if necessary--always included a mistake in the sweater.  It would have been presumtion to make something perfect--only God can do that.  I have never worried about little mistakes!

Mary Fox wrote
on Dec 8, 2009 1:58 AM

One important addition to accepting mistakes: when the finished look can be interpreted as an alternate 'design element.'

on Dec 7, 2009 11:02 PM

Thank you for your attention to these details of knitting that seldom make it into How to Knit guides.  Thank you for addressing one of the questions I didn't even know that I had!  I began serious knitting (beyond garter stitch) 4 years ago and have taught myself many things with books and websites, but this goes beyond any source that I've referenced on the topic of weaving in ends.

I learned basic knitting (casting on, knitting garter stitch) when I was about 7 or 8 years old, but for many years I would stop when I made a mistake because I didn't know how to recover errors.  In my young mind there was no recovery from errors.  It was ruined and had to be started from scratch!  I thought knitters were perfect people!  Most guides didn't say much about how to take work off of the needles and put it back on, what to look for when inspecting how stitches were mounted and what to do when a pattern was more complex than garter stitch or rib stitch.  

When I "grew up" and finally realized that there couldn't possibly be that many perfect people in the world, I set my mind to learning by trial and error, starting with carefully undoing individual stitches, learning just where to place the needle to "unknit" or "unpurl" stitches.  Eventually I gained confidence to remove work from the needles.  That opened up the world of knitting to me because finally I could try and try and try again.

I would be interested in a future article on any methods for ripping back work and fixing errors that may have also eluded me in my self-study.

I will look into the Fearless Knitting Workbook.  Sounds like something I can really use!

april@12 wrote
on Dec 7, 2009 2:28 PM

WOW!  Was so excited about this book I ordered it without shopping around.  How can Amazon offer it cheaper?  That seems like a rip.  If you can match the price for Annette S can you match it for me too?


AnnetteS@14 wrote
on Dec 7, 2009 12:21 PM

Fearless Knitting Workbook is $17.79 at Amazon.  Can you beat this price?

If so, I'll buy it from you.

on Dec 7, 2009 11:51 AM

Best Knitting Daily to date.  Practical and accessible to every level of knitter!  Keep it up!

rozminis wrote
on Dec 7, 2009 11:31 AM

Well there was me thinking I was the only one in the world to weave ends in one way, and then back the other way for a few stitches.  Glad to know I am not on my own.  :)

Regarding the ripping, well I must admit I don't often have to rip out in normal sized knitting, I can usually drop down a couple of rows and rescue the mistake from there.  Of course that would be more difficult, if not impossible, in lace knitting, but then I don't tend to do lace knitting anyway.  

Having said all that I must admit that my mini knitting (1/12th scale) does get ripped out a great deal.  Sometimes because I have made a muck up, and other times because I have been a tad careless with the needles, and the stupid stitches come off the needle.  Sigh, many new words are added to the English language at that point, especially if the design does have a lace pattern to it.  :(