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!
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
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.
- Pick up the tail of the working yarn and thread it on a sharp tapestry needle that is as thin as possible.
- Create a loop and pierce right through the center of the stranding end of the same yarn.
- Go right through the center and follow the yarn for around 2-3 inches.
Don't worry if things bunch up a bit and the plies seem to come undone a bit.
- Pull the needle through, straighten things out a bit but don't pull tight. Keep a little loop at the end.
This may require a bit of force and can be difficult if your tapestry needle is not sharp or thin enough.
- Pick up the tail of the yarn you want to join, and thread it on a sharp tapestry needle as well.
- Pull the needle through the little loop at the end of the working yarn.
- Next, create another loop and go right through the center of the new yarn as well.
- Once you covered 2-3 inches, pull the needle through, and straighten things out.
- Pick up either end and give it a good tug. This should bring the join closer together and close the loops in the center.
Depending on your yarn, this may require more than just a gentle tug.
- Straighten out the join and trim away the tails on either side.
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.
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.
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.