How to Weave in Yarn Ends with a Darning Needle
A knitting project is not finished when it’s off the knitting needles, it is truly complete when all yarn ends are weaved in and hidden from plain sight. Weaving in yarn ends serves two purposes - keeping the stitches from unraveling and for your knitted fabric to be smooth and neat. Almost all knitting patterns have two yarn ends one made during cast-on and one left after cast-off, but there can be many more ends, especially if you are working with multiple yarn balls. A darning needle is a handy tool to seam, weave in ends, repair and so much more.
While the objective remains the same, to weave yarn ends, the method differs. The way to weave ends in a stockinette is different from a pattern of ribbing or lace knitting. Also, different yarns behave differently, so the way to secure the ends of the yarn changes accordingly. Some yarns have a lot of friction (standard worsted-weight wool, mohair yarns, camel hair, etc) and others are super smooth like cotton or some alpaca yarns. Some yarns felt while others don’t. Depending on all these characteristics, and the individual properties of your knitting pattern (it has seams, there are stripes/colorwork, lace, etc) there are many ways to weave in tails.
Before weaving in yarn ends, gather supplies.
- Darning Needle. Make sure to have a needle of a smaller size than the knitting needle used to knit the project.
- Stitch Markers. Besides using them for your knitting, the stitch markers are handy for various purposes. You may need to use the locking stitch markers to mark the yarn ends before you start weaving them in one by one.
- Sharp Scissors. Folding ones work best to store in your craft collection while being useful to trim down the yarn ends.
- Blocking Tools. A quick wash and blocking according to the yarn and stitch patterns will assist is the smooth process of weaving in the yarn ends. You can refer to our guide on how to block your knitted projects.
Now with your supplies at hand, let’s walk you through the steps of weaving in yarn ends with a darning needle in different ways.
In a Stockinette Pattern
For stockinette patterns (alternating rows of knit and purl stitches) and other non-reversible fabrics, it is important to weave in the ends on the wrong side. Insert the darning needle through stitches diagonally through at least 5-6 stitches. Make sure to never pull too tightly on the tail. Go back in the same direction you came from or turn at a right angle. Stretch out your fabric and let the yarn end settle in, and then cut the tail. The end will barely be visible on both ends. Over time, the yarn tail will felt making the bond even more securer.
In Ribbing Stitch Patterns
Rib stitches are a combination of knit and purl stitches and are typically very stretchy. To weave in yarn ends here you move the darning needle on the ribs horizontally. This method also works with all other reversible stitch patterns. Insert the needle with the yarn end and go right through the left or right leg of the knit stitches and back in the opposite direction, following the same rib. You can also go right through the other legs of the same knit stitches of other ribs. Do not pull yarn tails tightly instead, massage the tail into place. Stretch out your ribbing quite a bit to let the end settle in, and then cut off any excess. This weaving-in method is barely visible from either side and is very secure.
In Garter Stitch Patterns
Though the easiest knitting stitch pattern with all rows and rounds of knit stitches, the Garter stitch pattern, interestingly enough, is not the easiest pattern to weave in tails. Of the many methods used by knitters a very popular technique involves duplicate stitches or weaving in the needle diagonally on the wrong side.
In Colorwork Knitting Patterns
There are many colorwork knitting techniques and so are methods to weave in yarn ends. The problem with colorwork is not the actual weaving in technique, but the many tails and many spots where you joined in a new yarn. When weaving in the yarn ends, you run the risk of creating lopsided stitches or even eyelets. The trick is to always secure the yarn end in the same color block and follow the stitch used in the particular block to bury in the ends.
In Lace Knitting Patterns
Lace knitting is an intricate art with its own stitches and techniques. It is always recommended to block lace before you weave in yarn ends. Some lace patterns are not overly “lacy” and have sections of stockinette stitch or garter stitch in between where you bury the yarn ends. In the case of overly lace stitch patterns, bigger size needles in comparison to the yarn weight and artfully put holes in the fabric. This makes it difficult to weave in yarn ends. A trick is to split the yarn which will add an extra layer of security. That is very vital when weaving in ends on knitted lace. Many knitters use duplicate stitches and trace the natural path of their stitches 6-8 times.
Other ways to weave in yarn ends without a darning needle
Besides the above ways, there are other methods to weave in yarn ends. They do not require darning needles. One way is to knit with the cast on yarn tail, and the other way is to weave in the yarn when knitting.
If you use a standard long-tail cast-on, pick on the tail and knit your first row or round with two strands held together. Continue for a row or 6-8 stitches, and then simply cut off the ends. This weaving in technique limits the stretchy edge and therefore is not ideal for hems and cuffs and any other kind of project. Also, knit very carefully in the second row, so you don’t end up with increases. You need to knit the two strands as if they are one.
When you work with a new yarn ball or color, then you can go ahead with weaving in yarn ends when knitting. Simply wrap the tail around your working yarn one time and then knit according to the pattern. continue a row or 6-10 stitches. The yarn end will be securely locked by the stitches.
The darning needle is a handy tool to do this and more. If your knitted fabric gets holes due to wear and tear with use, you can repair the holes with patches and more.
While weaving in yarn ends may seem like an unnecessary task, it is a very soothing way to complete your knitted project. Enjoy securing the ends as neatly in the pattern as possible.