Sewing in Ends

When you start or finish a piece of handwork there is always a short length of yarn that is not actually a part of the item.  We call these the “ends.” People don’t talk much about sewing in ends but I think it’s important.

If the ends are not correctly woven into the piece you are making, then that wonderful hat or scarf that you have worked so hard on might unravel the first time it is washed!  Sewing (or weaving) in your ends when you knit can often be difficult for new knitters.  You obviously don’t want to create an unsightly bump while taking care of those important ends.  Here are some basic guidelines to dealing with yarn ends.

Leave an appropriate end

Yarn ends should be at least 7 inches long.  If they are too short you will have trouble weaving them in.  If they are too long they get in the way as you are working.

If you have cast on using a long tail method you will often find your end is VERY long.  Don’t try to be thrifty and save that extra length.  Just cut it off, leaving about 7 inches and move on.

I do not encourage waste, but that long end is going to drive you MAD, and I don’t want that either!

Use the right needle

It is best to use a sharp needle when weaving in ends.  The sharp tip will make it easier for you to split the yarn in the fabric you are weaving into.

A blunt needle is what you want to join two pieces of fabric together (like sewing up a sleeve).  Those huge blunt needles they call “yarn needles” are mostly useless.  Especially the plastic ones, they can catch on your yarn and make a mess.

Chenille needles or tapestry needles are the best for the sharp points.

Thread your needle

You would be surprised at how often I watch people struggle to thread a needle. Even people who have knitted for a long time. It’s not difficult, but there is a trick to it.

Do not waste time trying to thread your yarn through the hole like you do with a sewing thread, that’s crazy-making.  And don’t  wet it as you do with thread either, that just gets you fiber in your mouth!

  1. Fold your yarn over your needle, pull it taut, and hold the yarn in a pinch between two fingers.
  2. Slide your needle out, holding your pinch in place, so when you remove the needle your yarn is still sticking up between your fingers.
  3. Then carefully push your yarn UP through the eye of your needle. Do not loosen your pinch. Sometimes I roll my fingers tighter to make the loop that is sticking up a bit flatter, but you don’t always need to do that.

Practice this, and you will find that threading your needle is a TOTAL synch!

Skim

Once you have threaded  your needle using the sharp point of your needle skim across the fabric of your work.

The needle should go through just about a third of the strands of yarn that make up the fabric of your work. It should be enough to anchor the yarn you are sewing in, but not enough to be seen through on the other side.

Go back and forth, in the same way about three times.

If you are worried because you have a slippery yarn like cotton or silk you can do it more often.  I think it’s more effective though, instead of making MORE back and forths to make each one longer.  With wool I generally make them about 1 to 1.5 inches long.  With cotton or silk I might go as high at 3 inches.

Skim perpendicular

Now, skim aross your work one more time, but perpendicular to the three strands you just wove. (In the picture the yarn is blue just so you can see what it should look like.) This will help hold the end in place, and not allow it to unravel as easily.

When you do the last pass of weaving in you should be going through your base fabric, but ALSO through the strands of yarn you just wove in. None of this should be obvious from the RIGHT side of the work (the outside of the hat, in my example.)

Keep in mind that in the image it’s just an example.  your work you would have only one end because the other would be attached to your work.

You do it the same way no matter what type of fabric you have.  In this picture I am weaving into fabric made of all knits on this side, where the others are all purl. It doesn’t matter. You even do this if it’s crochet!!

With lace fabric you do have to be careful and not close up any of those nice holes you made!!

Taut not tight

You do not want to sew in your ends too tightly.  Use the same tension as the rest of the fabric of the item. This way it won’t show on the other side.

When you are finished cut off the excess yarn. Leave about a 1/4 of an inch or less when you cut.  You do not want to go to close and snip your fabric!!

Different colors

If you are working on a scarf, or with yarn of a contrasting color, where there might be more chance of the color showing through on the other side.  To prevent this from being a problem, or if you have very bulky yarn, you can make it less obvious by splitting the yarn.

Before you thread your yarn end onto the needle split the yarn into two pieces. For example, if you are working with 6-ply yarn, split the yarn end into two strands of 3-ply yarn.

Then weave each yarn in separately. This will lessen the thickness of the weaving and will reduce the “footprint” of the weaving. It takes a little longer, but it looks better than a bump.

It’s that time of year!

It’s been quite a while since I had to gear up and get ready for school to start in the fall.  It used to be that without that reminder the Fall season kind of snuck up on me some years.  But not any more!  For the past four years my fall starts in a very different way.

Now I know it’s fall when I start prepping for my classes at SVFF.  The Shenandoah Valley Fiber Festival has got to be one of my all time favorite festivals, and here’s is why.

Classes

Shenandoah Valley Fiber FestivalI love to teach knitting and spinning and the Shenandoah festival allows me to do both! This year I am teaching TONS of spinning classes, as well as sock and shawl knitting! What joy I get out of watching students begin their love affair with fiber!  Last year I taught a beginning knitting class and I have such good memories of laughter and that sudden joyful look when the fingers catch up with the brain and they hoot “I got it!”  The beginning spinning class is one of my favorites – I love to be an enabler and watching the origin moment of a new fiberholic is such a high for me!  Again, that moment when a spinner’s hands, feet, and brain all connect in the right synergy and that big grin that spreads across their face! It’s almost always an amazed grin, too, because ten minutes before that you could see how totally convinced they were that they would NEVER get it!!

Friends

One of my personal bonuses for this festival is that I get to stay with a great friend!  She started out as my boss, then later she was a client, and through it all she has been a great friend, mentor, or cheerleader!  Berryville is almost 4 hours away from Spinfoolish Central and so I rarely get to see Ellen in person, or her husband and lovely children! Getting to spend time with them is always such a treat and I look forward to it immensely!  I can’t think of much that would take me AWAY from a fiber festival, but getting to hang out with Ellen makes it TOTALLY worth it!

Spindles

ShenandoahIf you follow me on Facebook or Instagram you must know that I am totally addicted to Spanish Peacock spindles. They don’t go to any other shows now, so the only time I get to see them (Other than FB or Instagram) is at this festival!  The first year I bought one.  The second year I bought 2.  I think last year I bought five – although to be fair a few of them were for friends or students that couldn’t make it to the fair and wanted met to vet the spindles for them. HA! Like they need vetting!  Mike’s spindles are beautiful, they spin like a dream, they are beautiful, the craftsmanship is astounding – especially for the price, and have I mentioned they are beautiful?  I have my eye on three this year, and a few extra for friends or students!  I can’t WAIT! Let the shopping begin!

Shopping

Speaking of shopping – it’s not just spindles!  Here are my favorites, in no particular order: Spirit Trail Fiberworks, Hipstrings, Strauch Fiber EquipmentAnna Branner, Dragonfly Fibers, Hearts of the Meadow, Misty MountainRajkovich Designs, Tatting by Wendy, Taylored Fibers,  and Wild Hare Studio.  Phew!  Serious money will be spent, people!  I often find unique fibers here for my annual Tour de Fleece Fiber Pack.  I also find fiber every year at Hipstings that I just simply can’t leave without!  It wouldn’t be a fiber festival without a hug from Debbie at Hearts of the Meadow! Fiber people are just the BEST!!

In addition to all that, it’s in a great location. There are trees for shade, sheep and dog trails, animals to admire, food to guzzle, and so many friendly faces! If you are in the area, please consider stopping by!  If you aren’t in the area, and you want a great spindle call me quick! I would LOVE LOVE LOVE to go shopping for you!!!

 

 

Ducks in a Row

It takes a lot for me to think of someone as a hero. My Mum has been such an ever-present epitome of decency, kindness, patience, and love that it kind of takes a lot to impress me (apologies to the rest of the world).

I do have a few though.

Anne McCaffrey.

Johnny Clegg.

And Stephanie.

Stephanie Pearl-McPhee that is, you know… the Yarn Harlot.

 

Having a Hero

She is, in fact, pretty heroic.  She’s all those amazing things so many of you seem to be able to manage with ease: a mother, a wife, an aunt, a grandma, a friend… but she is far more than that.

She is a knitter and a spinner. She writes books, gives talks, teaches classes.  She has a blog which has got to be the best blog on the PLANET, not just in Canada.

I mean honestly, she makes it look easy.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I know it’s not easy. I know she must spend hours and days and months to write those books, and perfect those classes – she is genuinely funny and a fabulous teacher.  But still, from where I am sitting, right or wrong, she makes it look easy.

And then, just when you think she’s really the whole package…she ups the ante.

She not only rides a bike…

not only rides a bike in a RALLY (I mean in public, around other people!!)…

but she rides her dagum bike in a SIX DAY rally supporting HIV/AIDS.

Think about that!  She rides 372 miles, from Toronto to Montreal, over 6 days in AUGUST!  Remember August, the month that makes you want to completely avoid the outdoors to you can still breathe?  Yes, that’s when she is out on her bike all day long. (and did I mention they all sleep in tents at night?)

Connecting with a Hero

And even if you do have a hero it’s not always easy to genuinely connect with them.

I always meant to write a fan letter to Anne McCaffrey, but then she died.  And what could I really have said that would have deep and lasting meaning for her?  “You are the only reason I survived adolescence.” True, but honestly, did she really need to know that?

I would dearly love to confer to Johnny Clegg how much his music has meant to me – how it puts me to sleep at night, and wakes me up the morning.  But while this is VITALLY and ESSENTIALLY important to me, I doubt it would register very high on his personal Richter Scale.

But my hero Stephanie makes connecting easy.

By not just riding in the rally, but by helping to run the thing she shows where her heart lies, and provides me with a perfect vehicle to showing her my undying devotion.  There are so many, many, many things in this world that could be made better. She is an amazing example of how ONE person can make a huge, huge difference.  And I love that she gives me, and all the others who love and cherish her, a simple effective way to make a difference with and for her.

I made a donation, and I offered some Karmic Balancing Gifts.

I think you should, too.