Fix-It Friday: So You’ve Run Out of Yarn…

Posted by on Oct 5, 2012 in Knitting | Comments

While working through my latest knitting project, a sweater, I saw that my sneaky little yarn tail was creeping toward my project, and my ball of yarn was getting closer and closer to ending. So what now? There are several easy ways to attach new yarn to your project, like the Russian join or the spit splice. But, my favorite way is to use a simple half-square knot.  Here’s how to join yarn:

The first step is to stop knitting, leaving yourself a three-inch tail of yarn.  Then, find the working end of your next ball of yarn, and grab it so that you have a second three-inch tail.  With the new ball of yarn, tie a half-square knot around the old tail (preserving both three-inch tails), slide the knot up to your project, and tighten it.  Keep the old and new tails out of the way while you knit the rest of the project.  Once you’re finished knitting, weave both tails in, and voilà!

how to join yarn and fix a knitting project


If you’ve enjoyed this tip, you might also be interested in Ragga Eiríksdóttir’s instructions on how to join yarn ends.




  1. Perfect picture illustrations! Thanks Stefanie.


  2. Kathy Brockman says:

    Great photos! One question…do you untie the knot before weaving in the tails or do you leave the knot in and weave in the remaining tail yarn?

  3. klsabin says:

    Please don’t tie knots in your knitting! Try some of these alternatives for adding yarn:

    1. Support says:

      Hi Klsabin, Thanks for your suggestion and link! Like Stefanie mentioned, there are may ways to add on another ball of yarn. We hope everyone finds one that’s best for them and the project. Happy knitting!

  4. Elizabeth Nelson says:

    I’ve been “cheating” with a knot and just working to make sure its on the wrong side….But this is inspired!!! So simple, so elegant!
    Thank you

  5. Thank you so much for showing this. I have used several other patterns for this but have not liked them. Thank you for the pictures also. I do better with pictures.

  6. Kim says:

    I was taught to never tie a knot.

  7. Beth says:

    Instead of a square knot try a slip knot and then tighten which should kind of pop when locked in, it’s called a Weaver’s Knot and used in bookbinding (and weaving).

  8. Bonnie Baker says:

    I was just knitting a new project and suddenly the yarn broke – in the middle of a row. I’m so grateful that I had Stefanie’s idea to go back to. I’ve never joined a new ball of yarn this way but it worked out fine. The knot doesn’t even show and I’m thrilled.
    Thanks Stefanie and all of you at Craftsy!

  9. Emily says:

    I’ll add to the never tie a knot chorus. That’s the absolute last thing I’d ever do with my work. I’m shocked to see someone as experienced as Stefanie suggest such blasphemy.

  10. Miriam says:

    I do a few different things, depending on the circumstances. If the fabric is dense and the yarn is the right squishiness, I usually just knit three or four stitches with old and new yarns held together, then drop the old yarn tail and continue with only the new yarn.

    The other thing I do is to tie an overhand knot with the new and old tails really snugly next to the fabric, then undo the knot when I go to weave in the ends.

  11. Carol says:

    I love the Russian join if I can’t spit splice.

  12. Ginger Kay says:

    I’m a big fan of the spit splice, but I’ve been known to tie a knot in acrylic.

  13. kelly says:

    If it’s 100% wool yarn (not superwash) you can always spit splice the ends together!

  14. Irene says:

    depends on what type of yarn I’m using. 100% wool I would felt the 2 ends together, others I might twist the 2 ends together

  15. malinde says:

    if it’s wool, i spit splice and knit while damp to be less obvious; if it’s not wool, i will knit old and new together for five stitches, leaving a five inch tail on either side to be woven in later.

  16. Liz. A says:

    I was always told never EVER to tie a knot and not to trust knots in the skein. It’s nice to know there are other schools of thought. :)

  17. Karen T says:

    I’ve always just dropped the old yarn, started knitting with the new, and woven in both ends when I’m done. But I like this half-knot idea a lot and have already employed it once since this post went up.

  18. Vicki says:

    I never tie knots! I have always woven in the new yarn for 5 or 6 stitches, switch to it an then woven the old piece for 5 or 6 stitches. (Similar to how you would twist colour work on back.
    If the wrong side might show and the work is fine (like shawls or lace) I use a Russian join. It’s barely noticeable. I’m pretty sure you can google it.

  19. Linda says:

    I used to NEVER tie a knot, just start with the new. But now I use the half square knot because it helps to keep the tension even. If at the end the knot is a problem, it can be undone.

  20. Kerrie says:

    I consider a knot to be a temporary thing, myself; to be later woven in and especially good for worsted spun and heavy weight yarns. If I am working with a woolen spun yarn, lace and fingering weight, a russian join is best. (Of course, these are only my opinions!)

  21. Flyssie says:

    How do you suggest to join cotton yarn or what to do with the ends? It seems to show and be extra bulk for me when I weave it.

    1. Support says:

      Hi Flyssie,

      I think that knitters all prefer different methods of joins. For myself, when using plant based or synthetic fibers, I opt not to join the yarn with splices or knots. I was always told there are no knots in knitting! I usually start knitting with the new strand of yarn as if I was starting a new color. This means that I will have two tails to weave in at the end which remain hidden on the inside. What do other yarn enthusiasts think? What are your favorite methods to join cotton yarn?

  22. Billie says:

    You’ve got to be kidding!!! I have been knitting for over 50 years and one of the few hard-and-fast rules has always been NO KNOTS IN KNITTING!

  23. Well, you put a knot in the last string when your finished with the project right? Lots of people here are saying NO KNOTS in Knitting, but that’s a knot isn’t it? lol