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Published on October 21st, 2014 | by Elizabeth Bagwell

26 comments

6 ways to join in a new ball of yarn

Finished your first ball of yarn? Adding a new colour? Elizabeth Bagwell suggests 4 ways to tie up those loose ends.

Joining a new ball is straightforward – you drop the old thread, pick up the new thread and knit on. But then you have to weave in ends…or do you?

6 ways to join a new ball of yarn - LoveKnitting blog

1. Hold both strands together
This is an obvious technique, but not ideal. Unless you’re using laceweight (and sometimes even then) the join can show as an unfortunate bulge.

2. Weave the ends in later
Drop the old thread, pick up the new one and forget about it until the end of the project. Just make sure you leave a long enough tail – 10cm / 4in is a nice length, I find.

You can change balls at the end of a row, which is tidier if those edges will be seamed. If they’re visible or decorative, it can be less instrusive than a mid-row change.

3. Spit felting
Technically, it doesn’t have to be spit. If you’re using a feltable yarn, you can felt the end of the old ball to the start of the new one. Simply apply water and then friction (rub the yarn strands together vigorously between your palms.

Feltable yarns are usually animal fibre yarns that can’t be machine washed, like wool or alpaca. Cotton, linen, bamboo, superwash wool and machine washable yarns don’t felt, so can’t be spit felted.

4. Alternate stitches
Knit alternate stitches with the old ball and the new one for a super secure join. Be careful with your tension, as this can create a pucker.

5. Tie a knot
Of course you can just knot two strands together, if you want. The down sides are that the knot tends to be a lump in the fabric, can work through to the front and spoil the line, and can pull neighbouring stitches out of shape.

6. Let the ends dangle loose
Again, you can do this. The risk is that the stitches near the tail will stretch, loosen or that the tail will pull free. If you’re using a yarn that sticks to itself well, like wool, there’s less risk than with a smooth, slippery cotton or silk.


About the Author

Elizabeth is a keen knitter, occasional designer, enthusiastic traveler and a professional freelance writer. She spent three years working for British knitting magazine, Simply Knitting, and has also written for The Knitter and other craft titles. She blogs at: www.elizabethbagwell.me.uk


Last updated: August 1st, 2017.

26 Responses to 6 ways to join in a new ball of yarn

  1. Lois Bell says:

    I’m a big fan of the Russian Join. It occasionally adds bulk, but usually not it’s not noticeable.

  2. Margaret Pengelly says:

    As a new knitter I don’t want 6 options. Please tell me what to do and which one you recommend for this project.

  3. Jacki Moorcroft says:

    Margaret, I really dislike joining in a new ball mid row as whatever method you use you can see it on the reverse of the work, so unless it cannot be avoided I join at the end of the row and weave the ends in at the side when I stitch up. If I have to join mid row I tie a single knot to keep the tension and then weave in at the end. I hope this helps?

  4. MaryB says:

    I agree with Jacki.
    I always join a new ball at the end of a row and weave in loose ends when making up the garment.
    To keep good tension, I simply knot the new wool around the loose tail of the previous ball and slide it up to the needle.

    When coming to the end of a ball you will need to gauge much wool you need to complete a full row. I find it takes approximately three times the length of a row of stitches on the needle.

    Hope this helps, Mary

  5. Audrey Clarke says:

    Thanks for the 6 ways to join a new ball of wool, but what I really want to know, is when is knitting fairisle and one comes to a pattern section how, then does one introduce the new colour without leaving a hole in the knitting, which is what I seem to do when I try a sample pattern, prir to attempting a fairisle garment. Thanks Audrey

    • Kathy says:

      I find that if I always pull the new thread from underneath the working thread, I never have a hole. another thought is to twist the two threads together to avoid a hole. hope this helps you.

  6. Wendy B says:

    The magic knot changed my life! It’s really not that obvious when used with DK or finer yarns (and I’d rather have a bump than weave in ends :p ).

  7. Kalli says:

    Audrey, you have to twist the new colour around the old colourand then when you weave the ends in, you can weave it around the old colour on the wrong side as well for a bit of extra hold.

    I like to change at the end of a row but I have notice a lot recently that balls are coming with joins in them and the knots are so small and close to the ends that I don’t see them until I am up to them and/or they come undone by themselves and I have to either keep knitting and weave them in mid row or undo the row and untie the knot in the yarn and treat the rest of the ball as a new ball. Is there any way we can know this in advance, or are there brands that are good about avoiding this?

    • Kristen says:

      I’ve noticed that, too. I think we need to write to the yarn companies when that happens in the hopes that they might up their quality control. It’s just a hassle.

  8. Elisabeth kas says:

    I personally prefer to start a new ball at the start. Any long ends I use to sew the article together. This way you cannot go wrong.

  9. nikki says:

    Hi i always join a few stitches from the end using a single knot, i am so the perfectionist i weave the ends in i do it in a way you can hardly notice, the inside of my knitting looks just a good as it is on the outside.

  10. Karen Saari says:

    I think I’ve used all of those at one time or another. It all depends on the yard. Last week I used the French join APK mentioned above (not different colors, but the same color) and it worked perfectly. It was a little bit bulkier – I was using worsted wt yarn – but hardly noticeable in the bigger picture. You had to ‘know’ where it was in order to notice it,

    The split felting never worked too well for me. I think it needed to dry completely before it was usable and I didn’t want to wait :/

  11. Jennifer H says:

    I leave ends of about 4inches, then when I have finished I darn them in carefully so no stitches show on the right side. Neat but a bit time consuming.

  12. Mary Halliday says:

    I always use “Jean Greenhowe’s Designs” Newsletter on joining a new ball of yarn, very clever, no loose stitches. You need to keep a nice big darning needle handy.

  13. Lottie says:

    Hello my name is Lottie and I’m just learning how to knit my daughter sent me this website and I’m really not understanding how to join the two threads together or you’re in together so that I don’t have a not because I’m usually tied the knot to it I don’t want to tie knots anymore I want to learn how to do it where it doesn’t look like there’s a great big lump in it and I’m not understanding that even though I read what you wrote I still don’t get

  14. K. Rogers says:

    I use the Magic Knot. Works better than any join I have ever tried.
    http://www.eweewe.com/blog/2014/2/10/penpal-hat-kal-part-2

  15. Amanda says:

    very interesting thread. I’ve just come to the end of my ball of wool and the next row is the cast off row – how should I join it? Thanks.

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