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Weaving in Your Ends

I have some good news. And, I have some bad news. Good news first: there is no one right way to weave in your ends. So, chances are, you haven't been doing it wrong! Now, the bad news: there are so many different ways to weave in your ends, you might not be doing it the best way either. 

Having options, it's a blessing and a curse. While options allow us a certain freedom, they also give us cause for doubt and uncertainty! Sure, as knitters we do live by a few hard and fast rules (such as: no knots!), but for the most part, there is always another way to do it, no matter what it happens to be. This truth became abundantly clear during my days working at the Purl Soho shop

Some of our most seasoned customers would come in to find a knitting newbie at the communal table, finishing up a project in some newfangled kind of way. The old pro would sheepishly ask about it in an apologetic tone, pre-emptively saying "I know, I know I should know this." It turns out the most basic questions are the most common. And, so as simple as this tutorial may sound, it's not just for beginners! It's for everyone who has a creeping feeling of doubt whenever she or he tucks away those last stray tails, "Is this really how you do it?".

The perhaps unsettling truth is that there is probably another way to do whatever it is you are doing. It might not be a better way, just different. We all have our favorites. To help you pick yours, I've gathered together some of my favorite techniques for hiding ends. Some I picked up from the humbling-ly talented Joelle Hoverson, some from the witty Whitney of Whit's Knits, a lot from customers and of course a few from dear Mom. The techniques below are by no means a conclusive list. We'd all love to hear if you have another favorite method!

Stockinette

Weaving in Ends with Duplicate Stitch (on the 'Right Side')

Weaving your ends using the duplicate stitch method means you will sew along your fabric, following the path of the stitched yarn.

With your tapestry needle threaded, bring your needle from the back or 'wrong side' of the fabric to the front or 'right side' of your fabric at the base of the nearest 'V' created by the knit stitches. Orienting the needle parallel to your rows of knitting, bring your needle behind the 'V' of the row above.

Next, insert the needle back into the bottom of the 'V', the same place where you began. You have now duplicated one stitch. 

To make your next stitch, bring your needle to the front again, at the base of the adjacent 'V'. Run your needle behind the 'V' of the row above. Pull your end though. Then bring the needle back through the hole at the base of the 'V' below, where you began your second duplicate stitch.

Continue in this fashion for a few more stitches or until your feel your end is secure.

Weaving in Ends on the Vertical

Hold your fabric with the 'right side' facing you. Bring your threaded needle from the 'wrong side' to the 'right side'. Point the needle vertically away from you. Weave the needle under every other horizontal strand that stretches between the 'V's created by the knit stitches. To see these horizontal strands more clearly, hold your fabric on the right and left sides and gently tug, stretching the fabric slightly.

Hold the needle perpendicular to the stitches you just made. Run your needle under the adjacent 'V'.

Point the needle vertically toward you. Run it under every other horizontal strand found between the 'V's made by the knit stiches.

Weaving your end into the fabric in two directions should secure your tail. If you want to be extra sure your end is tucked, rotate your needle and weave it vertically away from you once more.

Weaving in Ends on with Duplicate Stitch (on the 'Wrong Side')

Orient your fabric with the 'wrong side' facing you. With your needle threaded, bring it from the 'right side' to the 'wrong side' of your work, the side you are looking at. Point the needle away from you. Go up through the nearest purl bump.

Closely following the path of the yarn in the stitched fabric, rotate your needle and bring it towards you. First go under the purl bump adjacent to the original purl you went under. Then take your needle under the purl bump in the row below, slightly to the right.

Once again, rotate your needle. Point it away from you, and slightly to the left. Draw the needle under the purl bump adjacent to the one you recently went under, and then under the purl bump from the row above that you previously came down through.

Continue in this fashion, following the path of the knit yarn, for a few more stitches or until your feel your end is secure. 

Weaving in Ends on the Diagonal

Hold your fabric with the 'wrong side' facing you. With your needle threaded, bring it from the 'right side' of the fabric through to the 'wrong side', the side you are looking at. Point your needle at roughly a 45 degree angle. Weave it at a diagonal, under the purl bumps of each of the above rows.

After taking 4 to 6 stitches, rotate your needle 180 degrees. Take another 4 to 6 stitches, parallel to your original stitches. For extra security, you can rotate your needle once again and take a few more stitches.

Garter

Weaving in Ends with Duplicate Stitch 

Duplicate stitch for garter is a combination of duplicate stitch for stockinette and reverse stockinette. By that I mean, you will follow the path of the knit yarn, grabbing a purl stitch at the top of the row and then a 'V' of the row below.

With your needle threaded, point the needle away from you. Run the needle under the closest purl bump. 

Rotate the needle. Pointing the needle towards you, pull your loose end under the adjacent purl bump. Next, orient your needle parallel to the rows of ridges created by the garter stitch. Slide the needle under the base of the 'V' in the row below.

Following the path of the knit yarn, point the needle away from you. Run the needle under the purl bump you last came through.

Once again, point your needle towards you and bring it under the adjacent purl bump.

Continue in the fashion until you have duplicated 4 to 6 stitches total.

Garter can be tricky for weaving in ends, but I find this method nearly invisible and quite secure.

Weaving in Ends on the Horizontal

With your needle threaded and your loose end brought through the fabric to the side you are looking at. Garter stitch creates ridges of purl bumps. The ridges are created by pairs of slightly staggered purl bumps, one slightly above the other, one making a smiley face, one making a frowney face.

While pointing the needle away from you, run the needle under the nearest higher, frowney face purl bump. 

Rotate your needle. Run the needle under the adjacent purl bump, it is slightly lower and making more of a smiley face.

Once again, rotate the needle. Run it under the adjacent purl bump. Continue in this fashion for several more stitches.


With this method, you are only weaving your tail in one general direction. Because of this, I tend to take a few extra stitches to make sure the end is secure.

Weaving in Ends on the Diagonal

This method is very similar to weaving in ends on the diagonal on a stockinette stitch fabric.

With your needle threaded, point your needle at roughly a 45 degree angle. Weave it at a diagonal, under the purl bumps of each of the above rows.

After taking 4 to 6 stitches, rotate your needle 180 degrees. Take another 4 to 6 stitches, parallel to your original stitches. For extra security, you can rotate your needle once again and take a few more stitches.

Rib

Weaving in Your Ends on the Vertical

Whitney tipped me off to this method and its usefulness especially with ribbed knits.

This method is similar to that of weaving in ends vertically on a stockinette stitch fabric.

Point the needle vertically away from you. Weave the needle under every other horizontal strand that stretches between the 'V's created by the knit stiches. To see these horizontal strands more clearly, hold your fabric on the right and left sides and gently tug, stretching the fabric slightly.

After taking 4 to 6 stitches, run the needle horizontally on the 'wrong side' of the fabric over to the adjacent rib column. Next, point the needle towards you. Take another 4 to 6 stitches, parallel to your original stitches. 

For extra security, you can stitch away from you once more. 

Materials Used

To demonstrate I used Jade Sapphire's  8-ply Cousin Coral to contrast with the Ivory swatches. To weave in the ends I used a Clover darning needle from this chibi set. Although, sometimes I prefer to use a tapestry needle for weaving in my ends; the bent tip helps grab the stitches easily.

What is your Favorite Technique?

As I said before, this is by no means a conclusive list of all the methods for weaving in ends. These are simply some of our favorites. What are yours?

--Laura

PS: the pictures at the top of the post are from the following stories: Winter Hats for EverybodyBaby Girl Fair Isle CardiganBig Herringbone Cowl and Perfect Fit Socks.

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62 Responses to Weaving in Your Ends


  1. Erma says:

    wonderful information. I still am wary of the cut end creeping to the front of the item.

  2. Thank you for this blog post – I am still struggling with weaving in my ends, despite the fact I have 3 FOs. I shall try some of your suggestions and with any luck they'll work.

  3. Beadknitter says:

    Wonderful article. Thank you so much!

  4. Stephanie says:

    This post is so helpful! I sometimes use a sewing needle and thread of the same colour to stabilize that pesky end after weaving. For crochet ; wrap the tail on the top of the stitch before I crochet, with a tighter tension I continue and the yarn stays hidden.

  5. Catherine says:

    I just finished knitting your gorgeous Worsted Seed Stitch Scarf (http://www.purlbee.com/the-purl-bee/2013/9/5/new-worsted-twist-seed-stitch-scarf.html). Do you have any suggestions for weaving in the many ends in seed stitch?
    Thanks!

  6. purl bee says:

    Hi Catherine,
    I would use either a duplicate stitch method I think. Or perhaps running the yarn vertically up and then down.
    Glad you liked the Seed Stitch Scarf!
    Thanks for writing in.
    Laura

  7. Clorinda says:

    Hi,

    What is the best way to weave in the ends for seed stitch?

  8. purl bee says:

    Hi Clorinda,
    Unless I'm working in a super chunky or bulky yarn, I use a duplicate stitch method to weave in my ends, no matter what stitch pattern the fabric is made up of.

    If the garment has a front and back, you can weave in your ends on the wrong side, on the diagonal on a seed stitch stitch fabric.

    Does this help?
    Let us know if you have any questions!
    Laura

  9. PrincessEilonwy says:

    Thank you very much, this is really helpful and calms my paranoia that there must be some better methods out there than the ones I am using.
    I am finishing a ripple blanket with lots of stripes and have been looking for the ideal way to deal with the ends. Every time I changed colours, I knitted ten stitches with the old and new colour together, with two threads, so in theory I could just cut the yarn there and then, because the stitches are already secure, but I kind of felt there might be something more invisible I could try…
    But this post has reassured me that there is only so much we can do, and after doing what we can we just have to accept that the ends WILL pop out now and again, and it is part of having a handmade item with a history and with a process.
    I found everyone's comments very interesting, too. It hadn't occurred to me to darn the ends in by stitching into the actual yarn, to secure it, and not just into the gaps or holes. And the fabric cement sounds intriguing. Thank you, for the fantastic clear photos and explanation, and everyone for their comments.

  10. Bakeca Roma says:

    Very interesting tutorial.Thank you!

  11. Rochelle says:

    I use the skimming technique I found on Techknitter's website. I weave through the back, splitting the plies, then change direction. But on a scarf or anywhere else that has no RS and WS, I duplicate-=stitch.
    http://techknitting.blogspot.com/2007/07/part-1-of-working-in-ends-with-sewing.html

    You might even find 5 or 6 more techniques in her Index under ENDS:
    http://techknitter.blogspot.com/2010/04/revised-unified-index-for.html

  12. Ann says:

    Very helpful! Thanks so much.

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