Dealing with old colors and loose ends

When you're joining all these colors to make stripes, what do you do with all the ends you create every time you start and stop a color? You can either carry them up or cut and weave them in. Which option is better? It depends. If you don't use a color for several inches, it's better to cut the yarn and weave in the end. If you use it again soon, you can carry the yarn in along the edge as you go.

Weaving in ends

When you're obliged to cut the yarn, you can weave the end in vertically along the edge of your knitting or horizontally along the edge of a stripe.

When you look at your work from the wrong side, you should see the usual purl bumps. Look below them to see the running threads that connect the stitches. To weave ends horizontally along a stripe, grab a tapestry needle and weave your loose end through four or five of these running threads. Turn to Chapter 16 for more on tying up loose ends. (In stripe work, don't weave ends vertically because you'll invariably end up in a stripe of the wrong color.)

Carrying the yarn up the side as you go

To avoid cutting and weaving, you can carry the yarn not in use up the side, tucking it around the working yarn and keeping it close to the edge as you go until you need it again.

  1. When you finish working with color A, work a few rows with color B, following the instructions for joining in the earlier section, "When the edge is hidden in a seam."
  2. When you're back at the edge where color A is waiting and about to start the next row with color B, insert the RH needle into the first stitch.
  3. With the working strand (A) on the left, bring color B up the side.
  4. Pick up color A from under color B, and make the first stitch.

The working strand catches the carried strand (see Figure 10-3). This technique works the same on the purl side as it does on the knit side.

Figure 10-3:

Carry yarn up the side and tuck it in as you go.

Figure 10-3:

Carry yarn up the side and tuck it in as you go.

You can carry yarn up the side of your piece every time you're at the beginning of the row if you're making a scarf and want a very tidy edge. If the edge will be enclosed in a seam, you need to catch it only every 4 to 6 rows to maintain even tension on the edge stitches and keep the strand along the side from getting out of hand.

Be conscious of the tension on the strand you carry up the side of your work: If it's too loose, you get sloppy edge stitches, and if it's too taut, your sides pull in and have no give. Take a stitch or two in the new stripe color, and then check the strand carried up the side to make sure that it isn't gaping or pulling.

Untwist your yarns periodically for sanity's sake when you're working them around each other up the side edges. And give a gentle tug on the carried strand now and then to make it neat — but don't pull hard enough to draw up the edge.

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