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In my recent columns, I’ve covered some pretty challenging elements of the finishing process: zippers, picking up stitches, buttonholes, attaching buttons.

Not every knitter needs these skills; not every knitter makes garments. Indeed, more than one knitter has confessed to me that she avoids making garments precisely because of these things.

But there’s one pesky finishing task that you simply can’t avoid: weaving in ends.

There are as many different opinions about this as there are knitters. Ask twenty knitting teachers, and each will offer a different “best” method.

There’s two main reasons for this.

One: the method required differs by yarn, fabric and project. Stockinette, garter, ribbing, lace—are all different. Will both sides of the fabric will be visible? And even then there’s no agreement on which method is best for which situation. Many methods exist, and many methods work well.

Two: as evidenced by a couple of responses to a picture of my hand-sewing in a previous column, we all have different levels of tolerance for untidiness on the wrong side of the work. There’s no wrong answer here—it’s purely a preference. (Ask me about the discussions in my house about whether it’s ok to leave a dirty tea cup on the counter in the kitchen overnight.)

I will cheerfully admit to being a pragmatist. That is, I am more interested in finishing a project than having the inside be perfect. As long as the ends aren’t visible on the right side, and they don’t come out, I’m happy. That’s my preference. Yours might be different.

All of this is to say this is not a lesson on couture-quality finishing. And if you’re the sort of person who learned to embroider or cross-stitch at the school of “the inside should be just as neat as the outside,” then aspects of this column are not for you.

However, if you’re just starting out with knitting, if handsewing is not one of your talents, if you’re desperate to wear the thing, if you have to leave for the baby shower in an hour—then keep reading!

I hereby offer up:

Kate’s Quick-and-Competent Tail-Weaving Solutions (Some Of Which May Contradict What You Have Read Or Been Told But They Work Nicely For Me And So I Figure They Might Help You)

Do note that I used a contrasting color yarn, slightly thicker than the one I knitted with, for demonstration purposes. Things will be tidier and less visible in the project yarn, of course.

General Rules

When casting on or binding off, and when joining new yarn, make sure you have a tail of at least 4 inches. Any shorter and it’s hard to weave in.

A decent end.

A bent-tip darning needle is really helpful.

Wash and block the pieces before you sew in. (Oooh … I can feel some of you shaking your heads.) Here’s my rationale: you need to wash and block pieces before you sew up, and since—see below—a seam is my favorite place to weave in an end, you need to have seamed the garment. Also, if you weave before washing and blocking, and the fabric relaxes, it can result in a pucker or bunch in the fabric.

I don’t disagree that washing and blocking after the ends are woven, on a felty sort of yarn, help the ends to grab onto the fabric and stay put. But: I don’t feel confident enough to anticipate the change in the fabric that might result from washing and blocking to weave in beforehand. If I really want to make sure the ends stay put, I might wash again after I’ve woven. Or, heck, unless you’ve done something disastrously wrong, they’re not coming out in the first few wears, so just let that get taken care of it in the first post-wearing wash.

Also, also—cue gasps of horror—I like to seam with my cast-on and bind-off tails, where I can. It’s true that it’s harder to take the pieces apart and reuse the yarn if you do this, but chances are you’re not going to be undoing the thing. Are you?

If you’re working a piece with seams, join a ball of yarn at the edge to be seamed. A seam allowance is the best place to hide an end.

If you’re working a piece in the round, if possible try to join the yarn in a part of the garment that’s less visible—for example, under the arm or on the back of seamless garment, rather than front and center. This takes off some of the pressure to make it perfect.

If you’re working a piece flat that will not be seamed (for example, a scarf), join the yarn in the middle of the row, not at the end. It’s harder to keep tidy edges if you’ve an end to weave in.

Change direction as you weave. Knit fabric stretches and moves, so if you’ve worked in the end in a couple of different directions it’s less likely to worm its way out.

Before you snip the end, wiggle the fabric a little and look at it from the right side to make sure it’s not visible, and that the weaving is not affecting the fabric.

When you snip, leave a short end sticking out. It’s less likely to come out that way.

A visual on what I mean by “a short end sticking out.”
Places to Weave Ends: A Seam Allowance

The seam allowance is my favorite method and place to weave in ends. Work up for a bit, and then back down again, willy-nilly.

No precision required, just catch the end into every stitch of the seam.


If the wrong side will not be visible, weave the end into the bumps (the heads) of the purl stitches, on the diagonal. Weave in one direction for about half the tail length, and then change direction and weave back.

Weaving vertically can result in the end being visible; weaving horizontally puts one row under pressure and can create a pucker in the fabric.

If both sides will be visible, see Duplicate Stitch, below.


If only one side is visible, weave horizontally under every other “leg,” just tucked under a ridge, and then come back around in the other direction, under a neighboring ridge.

If both sides will be visible, see Duplicate Stitch, below.


My personal favorite. Up and down in a knit column on the wrong side.

Bonus: If you’re weaving in the end of a sock or mitten cuff, use the end to close up the gap—first go across and then down.

In the MDK Shop
Put your upgraded skills to work on this beauty!

If there’s a section of plain garter or stockinette, and the wrong side isn’t likely to show, see above.

If it’s more holes than fabric, or both sides will show, use duplicate stitch, working over 4 or 5 stitches, on the wrong side (if there is one). Ultimately, working duplicate stitch on the wrong side or otherwise in lace fabrics is a bit more freeform: the key is to follow the path of stitches as well as you can, over 4 or 5 stitches. It doesn’t have to be precise or correct. The frequent ups-and-downs are what’s important.

Here’s how it looks on the wrong side.
And it’s barely visible on the right side.

Duplicate stitch (also known as Swiss darning), is called that because you duplicate the path of the stitches with the yarn you are weaving. Simple. It does, obviously, bulk up the stitches that you’re weaving around, so try to choose a less-conspicuous area, but it’s not as easily detected as you might expect. Again, leave a bit of an end when you snip.

Reversible/Two-Sided Fabrics

If both sides of the fabric are likely to show, use duplicate stitch as above. Some examples:

Duplicate stitch on stockinette (right side).
Duplicate stitch on stockinette (wrong side).
Duplicate stitch on garter stitch (one side).
Duplicate stitch on garter stitch (the other side).

Or save yourself all this weaving, add a lot more ends to the edges, and call it a fringe.



This Could Come in Handy

You may not need this article now, but it’s a good bet that you will want to look at it next time you have ends to weave in.
Here’s how to save this article in your MDK account with one click.

About The Author

Kate Atherley is a teacher, designer, author and technical editor. She’s also the publisher of Digits & Threads, a magazine all about Canadian fibre and textile arts.


  • Thank you, Kate. These tips are incredibly helpful. I learn something new in each of your posts!

  • One of my favorite writers on MDK. Thank you again, Kate! I am about to start seaming up a sweater and I have bookmarked this article to refer to. I am also sewing buttons on a different sweater so I’m going to refer to your sewing on buttons article.

  • As always, a great article. And nice to know I’m not doing it “wrong” after all.

  • I thought everyone knew about seaming up with yarn tails. I’m with you on this one!

  • These basic finishing skills are essential to being happy with your knitting. As knit-geeky as this sounds, weaving in can be a mind calming a zen like task if you are happy with the results. and the bent tipped needles is an essential tool!

  • Very helpful for the different knitted pieces. I don’t like weaving in, it isn’t as fun as the knitting. Indo a quick job and sometimes it shows.

  • I used to be such a perfectionist, that I noticed in one book, I had highlighted how to join the ends of the yarn when starting a new skein… that was a very long time ago

  • something that I stumbled onto with really slippery yarn (superwash, linen blends) is to go through the strands of yarn in the stitches instead of simply going behind them. and then switch directions and go through the end you’re weaving in – the end is captured by itself and is less likely to work its way out. using a sharper pointed darning needle helps immensely with this. Hopefully a) this makes sense and b) helps out somebody else.

    • I learned this, too. I always go through the yarn in the back-side stitches rather than under the bumps, regardless of the slipperiness of the yarn. And I also change direction more than once — like a W rather than a V. And yes, be sure to wiggle the fabric in all directions before cutting off the woven-in end. Works like a charm!

  • Wow! So helpful and perfect timing for me. Thank you Kate. I’ve been wondering how to ask this at my LYS without feeling stupid:) as I’m a beginner!

  • Even though I’ve been knitting for several years, it’s always nice to see that I’m doing something the right way! Thanks for another great article.

  • I am vindicated.

  • One of my favorite ways to avoid having a lot of ends to weave in is using a braided join. When I’m done and everything is washed and blocked, I simply have to trim the bits that are hanging out. Very, very easy!

  • I use Russian joins to attach new yarn and have no ends to weave in when I’m done.

  • Excellent, easy to follow, intuitive
    Advice and Methods!
    Thank you Kate and MDK!

  • Cotton?!?!? Split + knot? Blankets? I am weaving so very many ends on a multi multi multi color cotton blanket…

  • Yes to bent tip needles, and to using cast on and bind of ends for weaving, and to leaving a bit of an end sticking out on the WS! It does help when you want to take a sweater apart and re-knit the whole thing. Ask me how I know!

    Thanks for this compendium of useful tips!

  • Thanks, Kate. As always we have very much the same ideas about what matters and what doesn’t. My life partner and knit husband always thinks my little tails sticking out are so unattractive inside a sweater or sock so I’m going to show him this article. I’m working on a large fair isle sweater for him at the moment and considering just knotting all those pesky ends. It will probably give him a fatal heart attack but that’s why the life insurance is paid up.

    Thanks again for an awesome tech article. They always make me feel much more confident about how many decisions I can make about my knitting.

  • Here’s my lazy knitter’s way to “not-weave” in ends of a join:

    A few inches from the tail of the old yarn, half-knot the new yarn with the old. Knit, holding old tail and new working yarn together for several stitches. On the next row, pick up the tail of the new yarn and do the same. Trim ends as above.

    This works best when the join is not at an edge.

  • Thank you so much!! I’m often happy with my completed items but that changes once I’ve weaved in the ends. I’ve never quite managed to weave in the ends in a way I’m happy with – it often ends up a bit lumpy and messy and in my opinion spoils the completed item. I’ve only just found out about mdk with this how to guide and I’m looking forward to looking at the other resources. Thank you again

  • I personally, love duplicate stitch end-weaving! I find it strangely calming and satisfying.

  • an extremely helpful article, clear and concise with great photos. Thank you!

  • I have a question and need your advice. I’m knitting a toddler’s sweater. The pattern is knit in garter stitch. The pattern is horizontal stripes in 3 different colors. In the ribbing, each colored row is knit for 2 rows. In the body of the sweater each color is knit for 4 rows. I have attached each new color on one side of the piece (for example, As I work on the pattern back, I’ve knit 4 rows of blue then 4 rows of the white and finally 4 rows of the green. Then repeat). Needless to say, this leaves a lot of tails that will need to be woven in.
    How can I weave in all of this yarn when I finish the sweater?

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