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Knitting Techniques: How to weave in ends

Jan 24, 2014

"Weave in ends." This instruction is in every knitting pattern, but do you know how to do it properly, so that the ends won't show in the right side of the knitting, and those pesky cut ends don't poke through to the front?

I'm here to show you how to weave in ends expertly, every time. There are three knitting techniques I use to secure ends: the simple diagonal weave, knitting in ends, and serging. I use the diagonal weave most often; here's how I do it.

Weave In Ends - Figure 1    Weave In Ends - Figure 2
Figure 1 Figure 2
Thread the tail onto a tapestry needle and thread the needle diagonally through reverse stockinette stitch, or whatever your wrong side stitch pattern is (Figure 1). Go through at least an inch of stitches. It's important to pick up stitches diagonally; this makes your weave invisible on the front of your work.

Change direction and go through about an inch of stitches in the reverse direction (Figure 2). Trim the tail to 1/4" or a little more.

Finally, use the tip of your tapestry needle to fray the end of the yarn (see Figure 2). This will hold the yarn tip to the back of the work.

After I've done all the the steps above, I stretch the area with the weave, just a little. This ensures that the tail isn't woven too tightly. If it is, you'll have a pucker on the right side of your work.
I always weave my ends in before blocking. Blocking locks those ends in place and they're less likely to want to make an appearance on the right side of your garment!

Knitting in ends is another way to hide your tails. I use this method when I'm knitting stripes that are several rows wide (too many rows to carry the yarn up the side).

Knitting in Ends

This is a nifty way to work in ends as you knit striped projects, or when you join a new ball of yarn.

Work In Ends - Figure 1   
Work In Ends - Figure 2
Insert the needle tip into the next stitch on the left-hand needle, place the old color over the right needle (Figure 1; old color is dark), knit the stitch with the new color as usual, then lower the old color (Figure 2) and knit the following stitch as usual.

Continue in this manner, repeating steps 1 and 2 and then knitting one stitch normally, for about and inch and a half to two inches. Cut the old color, leaving an inch or so of tail. After blocking, you can trim the tails to a half-inch.

Note:
This method works best on small-gauge yarns. It tends to elongate the stitches a bit in stockinette, so it's best used with fingering- through DK-weight yarn.
The Serger: This is actually my favorite way to deal with lots of ends on striped projects. I run my pieces through the serger (sewing machine that sews and interlocking stitch and cuts the edges at the same time), placing the needles on the selvedge stitch on the right side of work, with the ends sticking out to the side. Then I serge the edge. What you end up with is an edge that's seamed with an interlocking stitch, which traps the cut off ends of the tails. It's really nifty, although I won't say I wasn't nervous the first time I did it!

Weaving in ends is one of the few skills you'll need after you watch from Kristen TenDyke's video workshop, Finish-Free Knitting Techniques. Check it out today!

Cheers,

P.S. Do you have a weaving tip to share? Leave a comment and share it with us!


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Comments

LennieW wrote
on Jan 27, 2014 1:49 PM

Thanks for this tip! it helped tremendously to make ends easier to deal with.

shellybsgs wrote
on Jan 27, 2014 6:50 AM

Because I also crochet, I almost always have a crochet hook within reaching distance. So I run the hook backwards on a diagonal to the yarn, hook the yarn and pull it through, then do the same thing back the other direction. Don't have to thread a needle this way! :-) On lace, I can use a small hook to weave the yarn in-pattern.

Betsy@33 wrote
on Jan 26, 2014 12:41 PM

I thread the cut end (about 6-8") onto a tapestry needle and then, working on the wrong side, I follow the pattern of the stitches for about 1" in one direction, go up a row and back in the opposite direction.  If it is a stockinet pattern, the stitches are easy to follow.  If not, sometimes the cut tail may be worked simultaneously over two rows.  Amazingly, unless it is a particularly bulky yarn, the stitches don't look "fat" or show on the opposite side.  I knit a lot of scarves and wanted the finished look to be the same on both sides.  Weaving ends tended to make a ridge, at least the way it was taught in most books.  By following the pattern of the stitches themselves, the ends became almost invisible.  With extra bulky yarn, I have unwound plied yarn and followed the pattern of the stitches with each separate single. Hiding that last cut end was tricky, however.  I like the idea of fraying the end.  Thanks.

SCLRN wrote
on Jan 26, 2014 11:07 AM

Hello, very useful all the information you share us, thank you.

Blessings.

Nana Nitting wrote
on Jan 26, 2014 11:07 AM

Sure does make it difficult to share with my knitting group if I can't copy the pictures. What a disappointment!

pgreenspan wrote
on Jan 25, 2014 3:03 PM

I'd love to hear advice on how to handle weaving in ends in reversible fabrics.

pgreenspan wrote
on Jan 25, 2014 3:03 PM

I'd love to hear advice on how to handle weaving in ends in reversible fabrics.

on Jan 25, 2014 1:48 PM

Regarding the use of the serger, you don't state whether or not the serger blade is engaged.  I'm planning to use the serger, but to make it less "scary", I'll dis-engage the blade ~~  the yarn end can be encased in the over-lock stitch for the desired distance and a quick snip with a scissor later can remove the excess.

on Jan 25, 2014 1:48 PM

Regarding the use of the serger, you don't state whether or not the serger blade is engaged.  I'm planning to use the serger, but to make it less "scary", I'll dis-engage the blade ~~  the yarn end can be encased in the over-lock stitch for the desired distance and a quick snip with a scissor later can remove the excess.

Miriamp7 wrote
on Jan 25, 2014 10:37 AM

Whenever possible, I use the tails to sew the seams together. Otherwise I weave the ends into the seams or into the knitting itself much like you have describe above.

Kathy I wrote
on Jan 24, 2014 10:27 PM

Can you show a picture or video of your serging technique?  I have a serger and hate weaving in ends but I can't picture what you're talking about.

Ohhhdear wrote
on Jan 24, 2014 7:05 PM

Weaving in ends is fine if you are beginning or ending a project, but I prefer the Russian Join. There's lots of how-to videos on YouTube.

Carol@83 wrote
on Jan 24, 2014 2:41 PM

I usually duplicate stitch on the wrong side, about 4-5 stitches one way then go down or up a couple of rows and do a few stitches back the other way.  My tails don't show, and even I have a hard time telling where my ends were woven in.

tamarque wrote
on Jan 24, 2014 2:21 PM

I use the first 2 protocols.  But also use a few other techniques.  With multi-strand yarns I often split them on both the old and new yarns.  Then knit with 1/2 the strands from each ball (the old and the new) at least 6 stitches.  If the yarn is slippery I will leave some tail and weave in the reverse direction a few stitches.  With the remaining strands, I will knit them in your second protocol.  Great way to handle a project with many ends.

However, still looking for a good way to finish the ends of yarn like cotton especially on a lace pattern.  I find the ends really want to undo themselves.  Any tips would be appreciated.

SusanBHoney wrote
on Jan 24, 2014 1:22 PM

I use the Russian join when ever possible.  I feel it gives a clean join with no tails to deal with later in the project.  But then, I do mostly lace knitting and weaving in ends just doesn't work with lace.

SusanBHoney wrote
on Jan 24, 2014 1:22 PM

I use the Russian join when ever possible.  I feel it gives a clean join with no tails to deal with later in the project.  But then, I do mostly lace knitting and weaving in ends just doesn't work with lace.

ShadrachAnki wrote
on Jan 24, 2014 1:21 PM

When I'm changing colors on a project I almost always go with duplicate stitch on the back side of the fabric to weave in my ends. If I'm joining a new ball of yarn to my project I typically go with splicing or a Russian join to cut down on the number of ends I need to weave in.

Loretta R wrote
on Jan 24, 2014 12:30 PM

I recently saw a YouTube tutorial called "Magic Knot" that I have used when adding new yarn when making a scarf.  It's amazing!

Lace8849 wrote
on Jan 24, 2014 12:16 PM

I usually weave in ends similarly to your first method, but often do it in a straight line across a row; I will try your diagonal technique.

But the big difference I do: I use a sharp needle for weaving and only pass through about half of the reverse side of the stitches I'm weaving through, which makes it even more invisible on the right side. This is especially important with heavier yarns such as DK or worsted weight.

I once made a complex striped sweater that had a million ends to weave in at every seam!  Intense.  I mostly wove them up & down the seams after joining the pieces, and it took forever. I was worried that the resulting seams would be bulky, but because the yarn was fingering weight baby alpaca/silk, it all just disappeared after being lightly steamed.  Whew.  But having a serger would have saved me hours of work...I will remember that technique.

Karen Morris

on Jan 24, 2014 12:13 PM

I do the diagonal bit, but I >darn< my ends in, sending the needle between plies in the yarn, instead of under all of them.

dolliesnew wrote
on Jan 24, 2014 11:58 AM

When knitting a striped garment like a scarf, I change to the new color a few stitches in from the edge, then cut the old color leaving a long tail (about 6 inches),  I then start the new color while weaving the old color along the back as you show in the above drawings.  I can'[t draw very well, but it leaves ends to be woven in at 2 different point of the knitting a few stitches apart from one another.  I found this cuts down on any bulk that may develop along the edge.  

Hopefully this is clear.

Marion Corron