Below are 5 tips for weaving in ends on your hand knits that are beyond a simple "how-to" (here's my "how-to" video, if you're looking for that). Everyone does it a little differently, and there are probably 100 different techniques. My favorite way is to thread the end onto a yarn needle and use the duplicate stitch on the wrong-side, but obviously there are many variables that effect the way I do this and contribute to the success of the outcome.
1. Do a little planning. With garments that involve seaming, you can easily hide ends in the selvage, stitching up along the edge then backstitching a little to secure the end. For this reason, it's best to join new yarn at the beginning of a row. Try to pay attention to the amount of yarn that is left as you begin each new row. Also, if you will be sewing a seam, you can strategically place a very long end and use it for seaming, which eliminates two extra ends, and leads to the next tip.
2. Leave long tails. whether it's at the beginning middle or end of a row, you always want to leave enough of a tail to thread one of those giant yarn needles, plus a few extra inches. 8 inches is usually enough. Use your long tails to attach embellishments, sew seams or for closing the top of a hat.
3. Block your knits after weaving to smooth everything out. It's not always easy to weave ends into smooth fabric textures. Some of your stitches might end up looking a bit distorted but a little blocking can work wonders. Wet-blocking will yield the best results. I cannot stress the importance of blocking enough.
4. Split plies for bulky yarn. This is one of my favorite tips. If you are using a bulky weight yarn, it can be difficult to hide your ends. If your yarn is plied, you can split the plies apart and weave them in separately. Similarly, you can grade, or taper the yarn as you weave it, trimming the plies as you go.
5. Fake the duplicate stitch by doubling your yarn when you join a new
ball. This is a great time saving technique for finer yarns, and especially useful when working in the round. When you have about 10" left on your ball of yarn, join the new ball leaving about a 6" tail. Work 8 stitches holding the old and new yarn together, then drop the old yarn and continue the round (drop the ends on the backside). On the next row, work the doubled stitches normally. When it comes time to weave in these ends, all you need to do is trim them close. For extra security, I usually run the tail through a few purl bumps to keep the ends from creeping out on the right side.
BONUS TIP: SPLICING
Sometimes it is possible to avoid weaving in ends by splicing the ends of two strands together. This works best with especially fuzzy yarns that are able to felt.
TO KNOT, OR NOT TO KNOT
Someone recently asked me why they shouldn't just tie a knot, trim the ends, and call it a day.
Knots aren't terrible, but they don't always stay tied and can be uncomfortable to the wearer. Also, they have a tendency to float to the right side. Knitted fabric can be very fluid, especially if you're using slippery yarn. Over time, the knot can pull and distort the stitches around it. If you weave in your ends, a knot is totally unnecessary.
Cotton yarn- It's especially difficult to hide the ends of cotton yarn, but you can almost always split the plies as in tip #4 and get a nice looking result.
Chunky Single ply yarn- You might still be able to divide the ply in two, but if not, you can weave the end in tightly, trim the end at a long angle to taper it, and then stretch the fabric to pull the end into the stitches. Some people actually secure the ends of very chunky yarn with sewing thread and a sharp needle. I've never had cause to try this, but it's worth mentioning.
Do you have any little tricks you’ve picked up along the way? I’d love to hear them in the comments below.
This is part of my ongoing “5 tips” series. Future topics will be swatches, and substituting yarn, and reading a pattern. Please let me if there is another topic you would like to see me write about.