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.
These little puppies cost about $10 and are available at most craft stores or online. They are used to do (duh) needle felting. But they are awesome at dealing with knitted ends.
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.
After poking the tail a handful of times, you’ll see your tail virtually disappear! Isn’t that cool!
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.