Weaving in Yarn Ends

I admit I enjoy the finishing process, watching my project come to life. However, weaving in yarn ends can be tedious, time consuming, and not much fun; especially with a multitude of coloured yarns. Even this small, baby project pictured above had many coloured ends in the striped borders that needed to be neatly hidden. I do like to be as neat as possible, as nothing looks worse than leaving a mass of yarn ends dangling on the inside of a project.

There are no rules for hiding yarn ends, and every knitter has their way of dealing with them. The methods chosen depend on the yarn, fabric, and project. Some lace patterns are very open, making it difficult to hide ends. If both sides of the fabric are visible, you’ll have to be more careful. Extra thick yarn can create more bulk when trying to hide the ends. I’m going to walk you through the steps on how I deal with yarn ends.

A Little Prep Work

First off, there are some steps prior to weaving in yarn ends that make this task a little easier. Weaving in ends generally happens after seaming. All yarn ends should be at least 4 to 6 inches long.

I like to block all the garment pieces before seaming. I seam with my cast on and bind off tails where I can, so I leave longer lengths of yarn to use for this purpose.

Join a new ball of yarn at the edge to be seamed, because a seam allowance is the best place to hide ends.

When working in the round, try to join yarn in the area of the garment that’s less visible, like under the arm, at the back or sides.

When working with many colours, use stranding for Fair Isle knitting, a method for weaving in coloured ends so there are fewer ones to work in later. Yarn can be carried along the sides for some striped patterns. Coloured ends in Intarsia may also be woven in while knitting.

Basics of Weaving in Yarn Ends

Here’s how to hide ends neatly on the back of your piece. Use a knitter’s needle or tapestry needle with a blunt tip. Thread the needle with the yarn end and weave in and out of the stitches, following a row vertically, horizontally or diagonally for at least 2 inches on the wrong side of the work. I tend to work horizontally, except for ribbing and lace stitch patterns. Make sure not to distort the stitches by pulling too tight, and check that the yarn can’t be seen from the right side of the work. After at least 2 inches has been woven, insert the needle back into the last stitch, snip the end and tug the fabric a little.

It’s best to weave yarn ends into a seam, but for those strands that end up elsewhere, weave as above, but leave a short piece after snipping, so it doesn’t work itself out to the right side.

For projects like scarves, choose one side to hide all the ends. I always designate a right and wrong side for every project.

How-to Examples

Let’s take a closer look at weaving yarn ends in a seam, and in the basic stitch patterns. For most of the samples I used a different coloured yarn so you can easily see how to weave in.

Seam Allowance – Weave the yarn in and out of the stitches along one side of the seam. My usual technique of joining new yarn (overlap method) leaves two strands of yarn. Weave in each strand separately in different directions.

Stockinette Stitch – Follow a row of stitches on the back side of the fabric. You can work horizontally, vertically, or diagonally. I usually work horizontally, pulling the yarn through each loop.

Garter Stitch – Follow a row of stitches on the back side.

Weaving ends on garter stitch
Weave ends on back side of garter stitch, following a row of stitches.

Ribbing – This scarf sample has ribbed borders, and a definite right and wrong side. Weave the yarn vertically along the knit rib; end by inserting the needle back into the last stitch, snip yarn and give the fabric a slight tug.

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Lace – Lace patterns are either very open or not. Where possible, find an area of solid stitches for weaving. Because of the small area of a solid pattern, I wove in two different directions following the stitches of the seed pattern.

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If you have secured the end back into the last stitch, you’ll usually find after the first washing, that most of the yarn ends stay put.

So that’s it! I hope this helps you to neaten and hide those pesky yarn ends.