Knitting Bummer: Joining New Yarn

Here's one of my overlapping joins. You really can't see it at all! Note that this is pre-blocked, so when it's blocked it'll be impossible to find. Now, the puppy hair that's knit into the sweater? I think that'll be visible forever!

There's no getting around it: there are some knitting bummers that we just can't avoid. Joining a new ball of yarn is one of them, but I think I've finally figured it out.

I always try to join a new yarn at the edge of my piece of knitting, but there are some instances where that's not possible, such as when knitting in the round.

I'm currently working on the Lapis Yoke Pullover knit-along, which is knit in the round. On the body section, which is basically a tube, all of the yarn joins happen at about the same place—or within an inch or two of each other because of the waist shaping—so it's really important for yarn joins to look nice (or be invisible if possible!).

Throughout my knitting career I've been joining new balls by knitting a stitch with both the new and old yarns and then dropping the old yarn, just like all of the knitting instructions say. But I always got what looked like a twisted stitch! So frustrating.

So I switched to a method of simply starting the new ball on a new stitch without knitting the two yarns together. Technically it works, but it's not elegant. There's a hole that needs to be fixed when weaving in ends and the tension is so loose that I have to tie the end of the old ball and the tail of the new ball in a bow to secure them until I weave them in.

I was getting fed up with this technique so I decided to check my knitting Bible, Vicki Square's Knitter's Companion, to see what it recommended.

There are a lot of ideas for joining yarn in the Knitter's Companion, but I wanted to perfect the knitting with old and new yarns method.

I studied the entry and I realized that my mistake was that I was wrapping the yarn the wrong way and therefore making a twisted stitch. Here's the correct way to execute this join and avoid the bummer in the process!

Overlapping the Old and New Yarn

Use this joining method in an inconspicuous place, such as 1-2 inches from the side edge or in a textured area. This method is well suited for wools, synthetics, blends of any kind, and novelty yarns that are worsted-weight or finer. When worked with nonelastic yarns such as cotton and ribbon yarn, this join may be visible from the right side.


Step 1. Overlap the end of the old ball and the beginning of the new ball for about 6 inches.
Step 2. Work two stitches with the two strands held together as if there were a single strand.
Step 3. Drop the strand from the old ball and continue working with the new.
Step 4. On the next row, work the double-stranded stitches as if they were single-strand stitches. During finishing, secure the two loose ends by weaving them diagonally into the wrong side of the knitted fabric (weaving them horizontally or vertically may create a visible ridge on the right side).

—From The Knitter's Companion by Vicki Square

Now the trick here is how you position the new yarn with the old yarn. Take a look at the "Step 1" illustration above. See how the tail of the new yarn (shown in blue) points to the right and the end of the old yarn points to the left? that's the key. I was holding the tail and end of the old and new yarn together and not overlapping them correctly, creating a twisted stitch with the new yarn.

No more bummer!!

You can turn your bummers around, too, with The Knitter's Companion, now available in iPod app! It's the perfect companion when you want to know how to work a certain technique or when you just want to know how to knit something better.


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Knitting Daily Blog, Yarn Info & Tips
Kathleen Cubley

About Kathleen Cubley

Hello daily knitters! I'm the editor of Knitting Daily. I've been obsessed with knitting for about ten years now and my favorite projects are sweaters. I like the occasional smaller project, but there's nothing like yards of stockinette with a well-placed cable or a subtle stitch pattern here and there. I crochet a bit now and then—especially when I need to produce a baby blanket in time for the baby shower. I've been in publishing for 20 years and I'm finally exactly where I want to be: at the crossroads of knitting and communication. I live in Spokane, Washington and when I'm not knitting I enjoy gardening, snuggling with my dogs, swimming, reading, and playing in the snow in the winter. But, really, I'm pretty much always knitting!

30 thoughts on “Knitting Bummer: Joining New Yarn

  1. OK, Kathleen, I loved that you knit in dog hair 🙂 My personal favorite (?) is cat hair!
    But I have a question. Do you watch Once Upon a Time? Have you admired as I do the great knitted hats that Mary Margaret wears? Is there anywhere one (like me!) could find patterns for these lovelies?

  2. If the yarn is wool, consider unraveling the twist of the two ends, meshing them together, lightly dampen and then rolling to felt the ends together in one strand.

  3. what a timely discussion and explanation for me. thank you so much and when I restart my smart phone I want to get that knitting companion app. now if I can figure out the same problem for the crocheting I will be happy.

  4. I agree with @Aunt Gina! Those knitted hats on Once Upon a Time are beautiful. I’d love to see Mary Margaret knitting in an episode or visiting Storeybrook’s yarn store to buy yarn to knit her hats.

  5. Elizabeth Zimmermann solved this years ago, with no fuss about overlapping. 1. Knit until there are about four inches left of the old skein. 2. Knit the next and subsequent stitches with the new skein, leaving a four-inch tail. 3. After a few rows or rounds, tie a square knot with the two ends, checking the right side to see that it’s nicely balanced and the tension is right. 4. Weave in the tails on the wrong side in opposite directions. I’ve been making perfectly invisible joins this way for thirty years, with no problems. I think knitters are sometimes prone to make more worries for themselves than are really necessary.

  6. I just did a quick internet search and I think the hats on the show are commercially produced.

    There’s a fun forum on Ravelry called “Welcome to Storybrooke” that has a knits discussion thread going on. The members there might have some more ideas.

  7. Enjoy learning something new – and we can all learn more way to join the yarn to make our projects look more professional. I’ll add this to my binder on techniques.

    I think you should do an article on the “Russian” is by far the best way to join your yarn especially if you are working in the round or have “just enough” yarn to make a project. I just discovered this as I knit a lot in linen and it is difficult at the best of times.


  8. I like Ez’s and have used it a lot except I only did half of the square knot and wove the ends in, but there is always a better mouse trap and I now braid my yarn together.
    To braid, split the in use yarn in half about 4 to5 inches lay the new ball of yarn as is in the middle of the split just a tad above the end of the split and braid not to snug but somewhat snug. You should be able to knit about 3 stitches and then you just continue on and you can snip any little ends from your joining. You will find that this join blends in with your knitting and barely if even notice-able.

  9. Regarding joining- I have started using an appropriate size needle and creating interlocked loops by weaving in and out through back into each yarn. Then I pull each yarn tightly and knit on by. This also allows me to make absolutely clean and secure color changes on a single stitch. It even works with crochet thread (pretty small needle though)

    Holly Leeds

  10. Thanks for this very helpful tip. I like you have had problems with being able to see where my joins are when knitting in the round. I am going to try this next time.

  11. Thank you for the new (to me) method, I love to see what others are doing. Too long ago to reveal my Gran taught me the ‘dampen’ way that others have mentioned – it has never failed …

  12. first, thanks for this article! it came just in time for my first really big project worked in the round. also, the hats on Once Upon A Time, check the groups on I know there is at least two of them that are active and there are alot of people interested in those hats, myself included.

  13. I’ve been using this method for years–ever since I discovered it (somewhere on-line!). It works perfectly, and doesn’t show on either
    side when you’re finished. I keep telling my knitting friends about it, but it seems everyone wants to “knot” their two ends together–I can’t stand knots in my knitting!

  14. This is the method I use with one simple variation. When the yarn is multi-ply, I untwist each piece and use half the thickness of the old and new held together. The joined yarn is now the same weight as a single strand and eliminates the bulkiness of the joining stitches.

  15. I tried this on a sweater I am knitting with cotton yarn. It didn’t make a ridge, and looks so much better than the other methods I have tried – thank you!

  16. I really can’t get my mind around this explanation. Why does the end of the old yarn point left? Do you knit continental? Maybe a picture of the wring way to do it would help, then I could compare with this diagram. It’s not clear to me!

  17. I’ve seen several videos for the magic knot or Weaver’s knot. The only problem is that they always show it using two unattached pieces of yarn. I cannot figure out how to do it when attaching to change or add yarn in a project. Can you help?

  18. I use the fairisle method. Fairisle the new ball in for several stitches and then fairisle the tail of the old ball out. No holes. No double yarn stitches. Seamless!!

  19. This has become my favourite method of joining new yarn. I also use this method if I am on a purl row (wrong side) – seems to work well but I would appreciate knowing if the direction of the old yarn and new yarn should be the same as the illustration above?