Let it All Hang Out!
Knitters seem to feel a desperate need to keep their knitting tidy as they work…but I say: “let it all hang out!”
When you join in new yarns, do so at the sides of the work, if possible, or at the edges of colour blocks in intarsia designs, or even behind a cable if you don’t make it all the way across. Most important of all is to leave decently long tails of yarn dangling for later neatening. (I suggest 4 – 6″ ideally, long enough to tie comfortably, easy to thread and hard to miss). If you wish to tie the new yarn to the old to prevent loose stitches, by all means feel free (I now use bows rather than reef knots, as they are so much quicker to untie later). Please understand that I am not ruling out the deft use of splicing the yarns (spit or otherwise) – but this is not always possible or practical.
As the work progresses, the number of tails dangling will grow. Cut off any superfluous length beyond the optimal six inch length but don’t be tempted to bury these tails into the garment pieces before assembly! To do this makes seaming much more difficult. The tails are best hidden later in the selvage stitches after the seam is complete. Frankly, there are many downright ugly stages between casting on and final wearing: don’t be disheartened. All this increases the satisfaction of the finishing process as from this shaggy monstrosity emerges a newly minted sweater.
The same principle of LIAHO applies whilst seaming: leave your tails of the seaming yarn loose and on the public side of the garment until you are happy with your seam. This way, if the seam is not up to par or the armhole doesn’t quite match up, it is not a big deal to zip out the last length of yarn used and finesse the seam. For this reason I don’t bind off my sleeves until I have tried the body on and offered up the sleeves for their final length adjustment: if extra rows are needed, no problem, or if a few need to be deleted, similar. But if I had to un-bind-off, that would be a different matter altogether.
The book I’d really like to write would be titled “Knitting, Warts and All!”, picturing the progress of projects through their pimply, adolescent, pre-blocking and finishing stages and then revealing them in their newly evolved glory! I guess it’s also a lot like the raggedy-brown-caterpillar-turns-into-a-holy-cow-it’s-a-gorgeous-butterfly experience