Saturday, 17 October 2009

Best way to treat unused threads at the edge

It can be annoying – or even impossible – with these patterns to cross two or three threads in a satisfactory way at the edge, especially where unused threads have to be carried up for several rows.

I’ve now found that the best way to maintain a nice flow of knitting and to get a neat edge at the same time is adding after the edge stitch, and before the pattern stitches, an extra stitch for “weaving in” the unused threads in every odd row. (See below)

This makes moving yarn balls, or turning the project in special ways, unnecessary. When a new colour is to be used in a new row, just pick it up, and weave in the other threads. For a symmetrical piece like this one add a stitch at the end of the same row before the edge stitch, and knit it.

In all even rows slip these two extra stitches with yarn in front of them.

I’ve added these extra stitches in the chart for the pattern above here:

(Unfortunately the chart happened to be not very sharp. You should get a much better version by clicking on it.)

An explanation of what the R stands fore is here.

You can see that the black and pink yarn isn’t used for many rows, yet with weaving in I could carry them up easily. Here is a detail showing the result:

Weaving in

Weaving in loose ends whilst knitting can be used in stocking stitch anywhere in the project, where a new colour or new thread is introduced. It avoids having to darn in loose ends later, and is particularly helpful in a colourful piece. I learned it from a book by Kaffe Fasset.

It’s amazing how many words or pictures are needed to describe something fairly simple. My own attempt below is for continental knitting, but here is a detailed description for Irish/English knitters:

Here is more detailed description of a somewhat different way than mine for continental knitters:

This is my own attempt to explain it for the purpose it has here:

My working thread in the picture above is black, and I’ve already knitted the edge stitch.

Now, whilst holding the unused threads under tension behind the piece with the left hand (not shown in all pictures), I introduce the needle into the extra stitch as if to knit it.

But before I knit it, I move the needle under the unused threads.

Then I pick up the black working yarn…

… and draw it towards the stitch to be knitted

The extra stitch is finally completed.
In this picture you can see how the yarn is hold under tension.

Please note that weaving-in is only secured by a following knit or purl stitch, or by a stitch slipped with yarn in front. Where the next stitch has to be slipped with yarn at back, it is secured only with the stitch following it being one of the three other types. The unused yarn has to be hold under tension until that.

In my example the other side of the work after these three stitches at the edge looks now like this:

For a neat edge these steps should be done tightly, and it may be useful to pull at the unused threads every so often after some rows.

When weaving in ends in stocking stitch, these steps are repeated for 8 or so stitches:

*“Weave in“-stitch, securing knit stitch* or *Kw, K*

This is however better explained in the links above.


  1. Lovely photos
    Lovely work
    This is a technique I must try
    Thank you for all the work you did to share this with us.

  2. Thanks.

    It's really only of special purpose here, with the colour patterns. But is great with other knitting, to avoid darning in of threads later, when you can do it on the go.