Finishing a project properly makes the difference between a “thing I just knit” and an “heirloom-quality hand-knit”. If you’re knitting up something with a “right side” and a “wrong side” (like a sweater or socks) weaving in the ends is perfectly adequate. With these garments you can just let your little ends dangle inside, and no one will know or care. But what about when you make something without a wrong side? For instance, a shawl or a scarf?
That’s where I deploy this little torture device:
It’s my needle felter. Look closely. See those razor-sharp little needles with tiny little skin-ripping barbs? Terrifying.
Hey, look! I have an example end that I want to hide. I wove it in like normal, and then trimmed it to about 1 inch.
All you do is hold that sucker against your knitting and poke it with your needle-felting tool. I like arranging the end in such a way that it “disappears” into the pattern. For example, into the trough of a patch of garter stitch, or (like here) up along a column of ribbing stitches. Once you have the tail where you want, poke it a couple times with the needle-felting tool. (Carefully! Don’t stab your fingers!) Those little barbs on the needles will catch the fibers in the tail and tangle them with the fibers in the knitting.
There are two tiny caveats for this technique, though. First, it really only works on yarns made with natural animal fibers, since it is a variation of felting. Acrylics, cottons and linens don’t have the right fiber structure to let the felting alchemy take place. And second, don’t felt it too much. The more you poke the tail with the needle-felter, the more fibers get pushed out the other side of the fabric, which can leave you with a fuzzy backside. And no one wants a fuzzy backside.
I love stripes, and I adore knitting stripes especially. The whole “knitting with two colors at the same time” is pretty much the best. But I do not love weaving in all the ends at the end of a project. It’s like the world’s worst knitting practical joke. “Oh, you think your sweater’s done? HAHA NO! You get to spend the next six hours weaving in ends. Sucker!” Not fun.
So, here’s a trick that I like to use when I want to make something in the round with itty bitty stripes. Essentially, I’m working both colors at the same time, spiraling them together. This way, it looks like I have perfect jogless stripes, AND I don’t have to worry about a million little ends to weave in at the end. (Also, despite my poor description, it’s actually quite easy.)
Please forgive the messy drawings… I’m still figuring out the whole “graphics” thing.
1. Cast on with your first color, and join in the round using a set of 5 dpns (4 to hold your knitting, and one to use). Knit a few rows (it can get too fiddly if you don’t have a good solid base before adding the second color).
4. Pick up the second color again, and knit two needles (in this case, needles 4 and 1)
6. See how the pattern is going? You knit two needles of the first color, then two needles of the second color. This way you keep building up a spiral of stripes, until you end up with a great big long spirally/striped scarf/hat/mitten etc.