J is for Joining

One of the nice things when you’re mostly knitting socks and lace is almost never having to deal with finishing one ball of wool, and having to join in another. Even many of my bigger shawls have been accomplished using a single ball since yardage of a kilometer or more is not unheard of. With coned yarns, 2000m isn’t unheard of.

However, often this isn’t the case. Sometimes lace yarn put ups are only 50g, usually clocking in around 400m or less each. DK, aran, and thicker yarns as also usually sold in 50 to 100g balls, meaning the length yarn in each ball gets smaller and smaller. If you want to knit a jumper from worsted weight wool, chances are you’re going to be joining yarns, a lot.

There are a vast number of different ways of joining a second ball of the same colour (joining a different colour is a whole extra subject, and j is also for jogless joining), but which one I choose depends on what fibre I’m using, what I’m knitting, and habit.

If I’m using wool, or another feltable fibre, I usually use a felted join, also glamorously known as the spit splice. The idea for this join is to felt to the two ends of yarn together, essentially creating an extended length of yarn. Felting can be done by adding moisture and friction, usually achieved by rubbing the ends between the palms. The moisture can be a few drops of water if you have some to hand, but I’ll leave you to figure out how the spit splice gets its name!

Before you felt, it helps to thin out each end of the yarn first, so your felted join isn’t noticeably bulkier than the rest. If your yarn has multiple plies, untwist them and cut half of them off an inch or so from the end, for both the end of the old yarn and the beginning of the new yarn. Then just overlap the ends on your palm, add water and rub vigorously. It doesn’t take long and you’ll have a lovely strong join that you’ll hardly notice in your finished project. I did all the joins for my evenstar, 100% merino heavy laceweight, this way.

Another favourite of mine is the Russian join. This works great for thicker, multiply yarn, although the result can be a little bulky. This one is best explained over video.

So those are the two joins I usually use. Any suggestions for others I should learn?

2 thoughts on “J is for Joining

  1. That looks really interesting, I’ll have to give it a whirl next time I have to join a new ball.

  2. I came across this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2-u66X5RYjc
    but I haven’t had a chance to check it out/ try the method yet.

    Usually I just knit a stitch or two with both the old and new ball and weave in the ends later. Felted joins I use when I’m running out of yarn and have to join all the scraps together to make the cast off.