How to join yarn with the back join in knitting

A very precise and effective method to add a new color as you go without weaving in ends

Are you looking for a way to join a new color in knitting without weaving in ends? And all the methods you tried didn’t leave you with a good transition. Well, then I’m sure you will love the back join!

a watch with yarn changed with the back join

This is quite the ingenious method to add a new ball, very secure, and quite invisible if done right. The problem with other yarn joining methods, like the Russian join or the spit splice is that it’s basically impossible to calculate where the exact join will end up.

When you are knitting in a single color that’s no real concern for you. When you are doing colorwork (stripes in the round, intarsia, etc), on the other hand, you typically want your next yarn to start at a very precise spot.

Reading tip: 10 ways to join yarn in knitting.

wrong side of a swatch where someone changed colors with the back join
The finished back join as seen from the wrong side

And by employing a simple ingenious little trick, you can use a very similar technique to the standard overlap join to add a ball in a new color as well.

Let’s dive right into it, eh?

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Instructions: how to do the back join in knitting

a knitted swatch where someone changed colors with the back join and various knitting tools in the background

This method works best for slightly fuzzy yarn. You can use it to join yarn in a new color or to add a new ball in the same color. It will leave behind a slightly thicker section in your fabric.

Active Time 1 minute
Total Time 1 minute

Instructions

  1. Knit to the exact spot where you want to change colors.

    knitting up to the position where one wants to change colors
  2. Use a needle to pierce through the yarn right at the base of the last stitch. You can also use a paperclip to mark that spot.

    marking the position where the join needs to be with a pin
  3. Knit 3 or 4 stitches backward to undo these stitches again.

    knitting 3 stitches backward with the pin marking the joining position
  4. Pick up the yarn you want to join and wrap it around the pin lightly.

    wrapping the new yarn around the old yarn at the pin
  5. Fold the old yarn upon itself and overlap the tail with the working yarn.

    folding the tail of the old working yarn over itself to prepare the join
  6. Carefully pick up the resulting join the way you normally would hold your yarn.

    picking up the two yarns held together with the join in the middle as if it was one
  7. Knit one stitch with the two strands (working yarn + tail) held together.

    knitting one stitch with two strands held together
  8. Remove the pin or paper clip.

    removing the pin as the yarn is secure now
  9. Continue knitting for altogether 6-8 stitches with two yarns held together.

    knitting with two strands held together for another 3 stitches
    Then, drop the tail of the new color and continue knitting with the new working yarn as normal. Knit the "double" stitches as if there were one in the return row (so purl or knit them together according to your pattern).
  10. You can cut away the tails after washing your finished project for the first time.

    trimming away the ends of the back join after finishing

Notes

Be careful so you don't apply too much force as you knit the first stitch as it may move the needle or paperclip. Also, don't cut away the ends too close at the base of the stitch. Leave a little stub instead. Otherwise, it may wiggle its way through the stitch that is securing it.

If you don't have a needle or paperclip, you can also pinch the spot with your thumb as you knit backward. I personally feel that's a bit awkward, though.

All in all, I think the back join is a very fun way to change colors. It obviously has its limitations as it leaves behind a slightly visible section on the right side. So, for projects where you change colors very frequently (think of a big intarsia sweater), then I’d personally probably prefer a joining method like Twist & Weave.

But if it’s just a new color here and there, I think it can be very viable. Because let’s be honest, very few knitters truly enjoy weaving in tails. I do have to add, however, that for some fibers there’s no way around it. I wouldn’t use this technique with cotton yarn or other super slick yarns. But for your standard sheep wool, it works like a charm.

Reading tip: 6 methods to change colors in knitting for beginners

Anyway, that’s how to change colors in knitting with the back join. Comment below in case you have any questions.

how to change colors with the back join in knitting - a super smart way to add a new ball

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