How to Join Yarn in Knitting: Part I, an Introduction

join yarnWhen to join yarn, why you shouldn’t knot, and more!

I think often, when we first begin knitting, we don’t worry so much about joining yarn. If we need to add more yarn during a knitting project, we tie the ends together and we go about our business.

Usually, though, as we gain more experience, we discover that knotting may not be the best idea.

So this is the first of two posts about joining yarn. In this post we’ll talk about why we should not knot (try saying that a few times!) yarn when we’re adding a new ball, as well as when you’ll want to add another ball of yarn.

In the next post, we’ll see several great methods for joining yarn – without knotting!


Why Not Knot to Join Yarn?

Why not? There are two reasons why you may not want to knot yarns together.

Number one, yarn has a tendency to shift even from within a work of knitting. It is very possible for yarn to shift to the point where a knot that you thought you had hidden on the wrong side of the work to end up on the right side. “Right side” as in “right in everyone else’s sight.” Yikes!

Reason number two is that unless you use a knot that’s guaranteed not to loosen… the knot could indeed loosen over time, which could result in an unraveling project. Yikes, again!

So let’s talk about joining yarn, the proper way!

Why You Might Need to Join Yarn

The first question is, why would you ever need to join yarn? There are three main reasons.

1. You’re knitting a large project that requires multiple balls of yarn. If you’re knitting, say, a large blanket or a sweater, you may as well get comfy right now with the idea of joining yarn, because it’s going to be necessary.

2. You’re knitting a smaller project, but you find a knot in your ball of yarn. This shouldn’t happen extremely often, but it does sometimes happen. This is not one of those “guaranteed not to come loose” knots, so you’ll need to cut that knot out and secure the ends somehow.

3. You’re knitting a project with multiple colors. You’ll need to join yarn whenever you start a new color.

When to Join Yarn

There are two basic times when you might need to join yarn: either at the beginning of a row or in the middle. Normally, you’ll want to join at the beginning of a row if at all possible. That’s because you’ll be better able to hide the ends of the yarn if you join here.

When will you not want to join in the beginning of a row? There are really only two possibilities:

1. You’re doing colorwork that requires you to start a new color in the middle of a row (intarsia or stranded knitting); or

2. You’re running really low on yarn and you want to waste as little yarn as possible in adding more yarn. In a perfect world, this shouldn’t happen, but let’s face it, we’ve all been there, haven’t we? It does happen sometimes. If it happens to you, you’re not a disorganized mess of a person. You’re human. (Believe me, it has definitely happened to me.)

If you’re knitting in the round, you may not want to add yarn at the beginning of a round. The reason for this is that the space between the last stitch of one round and the first stitch of the next round tends to be slightly unstable anyway. If you add the loose stitch that invariably develops when you join a new ball of yarn, you’ll create even more instability. It’s best to join yarn in the middle of a round instead.

I hope you’re ready to learn how to actually add yarn when knitting, because the next post in this series will teach you how to do just that, with many different methods!