How to do a Russian join in knitting

A step by step tutorial on how to join yarn without knots or ends to weave in using the Russian join knitting technique

Let’s be honest, who likes weaving in ends. But often, when you need to join a new ball of yarn, you end up with two little tails that will require your attention after you finished your project. So, in this tutorial, I want to show you a super smart alternative: The Russian join knitting technique!

knitting yarn joined with the russian join in two colors

It’s a great choice for when the spit splice joining method won’t work and you don’t want to deal with the visible knot that the super easy magic knot technique creates. It’s a bit more fiddly but can be so rewarding once you get the hang of it. You don’t have to weave in ends and there are no knots.

You will require a sharp tapestry needle and maybe even a needle threader but these are knitting tools you will need at one point or another in your knitting journey anyway, so why not get them now, eh? Still, check out my full tutorial on the best way to join yarn if you are looking for alternatives.

Anyway, let’s dive right into it and show you how to do the Russian join!

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Instructions for the Russian join knitting technique

joining yarn with the russian join method - the finished invisible result

The Russian join works with every yarn and for almost all projects in a single color. You can use it at the beginning or in the middle of a row. It will leave behind two or three slightly thicker stitches. So, keep that in mind and maybe join in the new yarn a bit earlier if that means the transition will be less visible in your final project.

Active Time 3 minutes
Total Time 3 minutes

Instructions

  1. Pick up the tail of the working yarn and thread it on a sharp tapestry needle that is as thin as possible.

    threading the tail tail on tapestry needle to start the Russian Join
  2. Create a loop and pierce right through the center of the stranding end of the same yarn.

    piercing right through center of the standing end of the yarn
  3. Go right through the center and follow the yarn for around 2-3 inches.
    following through the center of the standing end for about 2 inches with the tapestry needle
    Don't worry if things bunch up a bit and the plies seem to come undone a bit.
  4. Pull the needle through, straighten things out a bit but don't pull tight. Keep a little loop at the end.

    pulling tapestry needle through and keeping a loop at end

    This may require a bit of force and can be difficult if your tapestry needle is not sharp or thin enough.
  5. Pick up the tail of the yarn you want to join, and thread it on a sharp tapestry needle as well.

    threading the other tail on tapestry needle
  6. Pull the needle through the little loop at the end of the working yarn.

    pulling the tapestry needle with the tail through the loop one created before
  7. Next, create another loop and go right through the center of the new yarn as well.

    folding the yarn upon itself and piercing right through the standing end with the tapestry needle
  8. Once you covered 2-3 inches, pull the needle through, and straighten things out.

    following through the center of the yarn with the tapestry needle for 2 inches
  9. Pick up either end and give it a good tug. This should bring the join closer together and close the loops in the center.

    pull on tails on either end to close the russian join
    Depending on your yarn, this may require more than just a gentle tug.
  10. Straighten out the join and trim away the tails on either side.

    trimming the ends away with a scissor to finish the russian join

Notes

Don't worry if your join looks a bit wonky before you pull things tight. That's quite normal and you can smooth things out in the last step. Also, it's quite normal that there is a lot of resistance as you try to pull the needle through. Sometimes, when your fingers are slippery, it helps to grab the needle with a piece of cloth instead.

Important: I found an improved version of the Russian join that does not require a tapestry needle. It’s call “Trim, overlap, & felt“. It only works for feltable fibers.

If a yarn has a lot of plies (like a DK yarn or so), this method can be a bit more difficult and you may end up with a join that is a bit visible. Also, remember that the slicker, the yarn the easier it is for the ends to wiggle their way out of the join with wear and tear.

That’s nothing to worry about overly much, but those ends might be visible. So, I do feel that the Russian join is a technique that works better on animal fibers. While still doable, it will not be as invisible for plant-based yarn such as cotton, linen, or nettle.

close-up of a russian join in knitting

It also has to be pointed out that it’s probably not the best method to join a new color as it’s very difficult to plan where exactly the transition will occur. You could knit up to the position where you want to change colors, place a paper clip around your working yarn right at the base of the last stitch, unravel a couple of stitches again, and then enter with your tapestry needle where you placed the clip. But not sure how feasible that is for you.

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

how to do the russian join in knitting - a step by step tutorial for beginners without knots and ends to weave in

2 thoughts on “How to do a Russian join in knitting”

  1. Hey just checking around because I just attempted a russian join for the first time. My yarn is probably a bit difficult to work with (Caron Simply Soft, 100% acrylic). But I think I managed the russian bind well. I just wanted to ask, how much “clearance” or length is good enough for both ends. So far one side has 2inches and the other has 3 inches past the join.

    Reply

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