How to Join a New Yarn

Many new knitters make the mistake of tying their yarns together when they need to join a new yarn to their project. While that is one way to join a new yarn, it is not the best way. 

That knot creates a bump in your work. And if you trim the ends close to the knot, it can unravel and create a hole in your work. 

There are many ways to join a new yarn. In this tutorial, I’m going to cover the ones I use most often. 

Be sure to read the text below the video for more information about each of these joins.

Methods of Joining a New Yarn

Knit 5+/- Stitches with the Old and New Yarns Together

With this method, you don’t have to sew in your ends later. However, it produces a thicker fabric at those stitches, which is usually not noticeable. However, it is in some projects – especially those done with thicker yarns. 

When you encounter these stitches on the next row or round, knit both strands together as one stitch. 

I usually knit 5-7 stitches together, and trim my tails down to about 1.5 inches after I’ve knit a couple rows. I don’t recommend that you trim them immediately because you might accidentally pull out a short tail when you knit the next row. 

Trimming them shortly after the join speeds up your finishing. The short tails are already sewn in, and the long tails still need to be sewn in.

This is the method I use most often, though it is not appropriate if you are changing colors.

Drop the Old Yarn and Start Knitting with the New Yarn (Drop & Knit)

When using this method, leave yourself tails on each yarn that are at least 6” long. That way, you’ll have enough length to sew them in when you’re done knitting. This method can be a little sloppy because there’s nothing securing the last stitch of the old yarn to the first stitch of the new yarn. 

You can fix the sloppiness by pulling the stitches tight enough to match the tension of the surrounding stitches when you sew in the tails. 

When done mid-row, there is a gap between the last stitch of the old yarn and the first stitch of the new yarn. You can fix this gap when you sew the ends in (as demonstrated in the video). 

I typically use this join:

  • On seamed pieces, at the edge, when I can sew the tails into the seam
  • When I’m changing colors.

Drop and Knit While Weaving in the Tails

A slight variation of the Drop & Knit method is to weave in the tails as you go. Do this by wrapping the tail of the old yarn over the working yarn before each stitch for 4-6 stitches. Then on the next row or round, pick up the other tail and do the same. 

Note that you need to be careful using this method on a wrong side row with the 2nd tail, as it can show through on the front in some stitch patterns (particularly if you are knitting, rather than purling, the wrong side row). In those cases, you can either: use this method on the next right side row, or sew it in after you’re done knitting. 

I tend to use this method when I’m working on a project that does not have seams and knitting the old and new yarns together to join them will be too noticeable.

Where to Join a New Yarn

If you do your joins correctly, they won’t be very noticeable. However, it is still best to do them in an inconspicuous spot.

If the piece has seams

Join at the edge. For thicker yarns, I drop the old yarn and start knitting with the new yarn. For other yarns, I typically knit 1 stitch with the old and new yarns held together. This secures the yarns better than the drop and knit method. When I’m done knitting, I sew the tails into the seam.

If the piece is knit flat with no seams

Join at the edge or an inconspicuous spot. For example, in projects with cables, I’ll often join the new yarn at the stitches that fall to the back of the cable.

If you join at the edge, you may want to sew your tail in (regardless of the method used) so the end of the tail is not sticking out at the edge.

If the piece is knit in the round

Join in an inconspicuous spot. On a sweater, that is often on the side, where a side seam would be if it had seams. For a hat, in the back. On mitts, the side of the hand or palm.

Are you ready to take your knitting skills to the next level?

This tutorial was created as part of the Flow Knit Along, one of the many projects in the Knit Along Club. Each knit along includes online lessons to guide you step-by-step through the pattern with written, photo, and video tutorials to help you improve your skills while confidently completing each project. Check out our Flow knit along at https://knitalongclub.com/course/flow/.

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