How to add a new ball with the overlap join

A simple method to join yarn by overlapping the two ends and knitting double – no tapestry needle or knots are required.

If there is one tool almost all knitters hate, then it’s a tapestry needle. I don’t know what it is, but there are some knitters who would rather knit another sweater instead of weaving in three tails. But there is an easy solution! You can add a new ball with the overlap join.

This method is both fast, very easy to understand, and perfectly suitable for beginners. It does create a slightly visible join on the right side and works better when you are knitting with a looser gauge. Still, it’s one of the most versatile ways to join yarn in knitting and works with almost every fiber on top of that.

the finished overlap join as seen from the wrong side
The overlap join as seen on the wrong side before trimming the ends

It’s doesn’t work for colorwork (like intarsia or stripes), here you would have to use the back join instead. And if the yarn is super slippery, methods like the Russian join or twist & weave are maybe a bit better.

Anyway, let’s dive right into it!

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Instructions: How to add yarn with the overlap join

a swatch where someone added new ball with the overlap join

You can use this method anywhere in your project. You only need a suitably long tail (5-8 inches). It works for all knitting stitch patterns. As an example, I'll be showing you this technique in stockinette stitch.

Active Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes

Instructions

  1. Overlap the yarn you want to join with your current working yarn. The tail of the new ball should hang down 1 or 2 inches beyond your current active stitch.

    overlappping the two ends with a spare tail on the right side
  2. Pick up the two strands held together like you normally would hold your yarn.

    holding the two strands together as if it was one
    Note: If you are an English thrower, then you hold the two strands in your right hand.
  3. Knit 3-5 stitches according to your pattern with the two strands held together as one.

    knit a couple of stitches double with two strands held together
  4. Drop the old yarn and continue knitting with just the new yarn. Make sure to treat the double stitches as one in the return row/round. Don't knit them separately!

    continuing knitting with only the new yarn, the tail of the old yarn stays in theback
  5. Cut off the tails using a scissor leaving behind a short stub. You may want to wait with this until you washed and blocked your project the first time.

    trimming the ends with a scisssor leaving behind a little stub

Notes

If you are working on a lace project, I recommend tightening the join a bit by pulling on the tails. That way, you can adjust the tension and secure the join. I would avoid trimming the ends too close to the last stitch and rather let a little stub stand. The tail will shrink over time. If the stub is too short, it may wiggle its way through the first stitch before it can felt into place.

triming the ends after the overlap join knitting technique

Also, you may consider placing the join in a section of your work where a pattern (or a seamed edge) might hide it later on.

The number of stitches you want to knit double will depend on your personal preferences and the yarn you are using. If you are working with a super slippery yarn or the project will be subject to a lot of wear and tear, you can combine it with a traditional way of weaving in ends.

So, instead of trimming the ends, you pick up a tapestry needle and hide them on the wrong side. This could be an option when you are working with slippery cotton yarn or so. But usually, it’s entirely not needed.

Anyway, that’s how to do the overlap join in knitting. Comment below in case you still have any questions.

how to add a new ball with the overlap join - a simple joining method for beginners

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