The Russian Join is one of the absolute best ways to join yarn due to it’s secure hold and invisible finish
As enjoyable as it is to crochet and knit, weaving in ends is generally not part of the fun. In fact, if you talk to knitters and crocheters about it, oftentimes you’ll discover that weaving in the ends is their least favorite part of their projects!
These “tails” of yarn are simply left over from where a new yarn was added into a project. This could be from running out of a skein, or from doing a planned color change. Either way, most methods of joining the yarn together(tying it in some kind of knot or simply picking up the next stitch with the new yarn.) require you to go back and weave in the ends.
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This weaving in of ends, since it’s not really the most creative part of a project, can really cause a lot of us creative people to stall. I’ve even heard of people leaving a project unfinished for months because of the number of ends they had to weave in. Some of the more disciplined among us take care of this pitfall by weaving in ends as they come up in a project(if this is you, I admire you!) while others of us just deal with them all at once.
There is a method of joining yarn together that actually doesn’t leave ends. Not only that, but it also doesn’t involve knots in your work. Because of these and other benefits, it’s my very favorite joining method.
This magical-sounding technique is called the Russian Join. And truth be told, it seems pretty magical the first time you look at it or see it done. In reality though, it’s fairly easy to do!
Instead of knotting the yarns or keeping them together some other way, the Russian join involves weaving the yarns together in the initial join itself. This creates a very strong join when done correctly, and means that there aren’t any ends still trailing out once the join is done.
A bit further down I’ll explain how to do this step-by-step, and you can also see the video I made to show you how to do a Russian join. Please know, to do a Russian Join you will need a straight needle large enough for your yarn to be threaded on(A blunt-tipped tapestry needle works best). You will also need some good scissors close by.
To start I’m going show you some situations where the Russian join is especially useful.
Best Uses for the Russian Join
First of all, the Russian Join is ideal anywhere that you’d like to avoid knots in your work. Think of baby clothes, delicate shawls, and any other work that is going to be next to the skin or possibly made from fine yarn. Knots in this type of project could be irritating to feel while wearing or be harder to hide visually.
Knowing how to do the Russian join is also very helpful for bulkier yarns and projects that are not next to skin. Those are just the things that make the usefulness of the Russian Join really shine.
Clean color changes
Because the Russian join creates such a distinct change, it is great for creating clean changes of color in your work. As you’ll see in my video, a little bit of practice can help you get the join/color change exactly where you want it. In fact, this method can be used either at the end of a row or in the middle-really wherever you need the change to be.
Secure yarn joins
One of the things that can make us nervous as we create with yarn is the idea that our yarn is going to eventually unravel-leaving us with holes in our work that can be very hard to repair. Usually having long enough tails is the best guard against this kind of damage
However, the Russian join still has a potential advantage for keeping your yarn secure. For one thing, the actual ends of yarn are very well “hidden” in a Russian join, meaning the ends are less likely to pop out a little over time and tempt you to trim them just a little shorter.
Plus, the construction of a Russian join holds the yarn together in a similar way that a ply of yarn stays together when it is spun. When you see how to make a Russian join step by step you will probably see what I mean.
The last way that the Russian join is useful is for cutting down on frustration. Since weaving in ends can be seen as a chore, the Russian join can make projects more enjoyable by taking away that step of the project.
Now to be fair, a Russian join does take a little longer than some other joins. It’s really a lot like weaving in ends one at a time as you come to them. But, the difference is that you get the added benefits of a Russian join as well.
For me, this means that using the Russian join gives me a good enough reason to stop for a moment each time the yarn changes. I know that I’m doing the best thing that I can do, and that I won’t be able to come back and do later. In other words, it gives me the motivation I need to be disciplined.
What the russian join might not be good for
As we’ve seen, the Russian join is versatile and great for lots of different things. However, there are a few times when it is harder to do(or when you can’t really do it at all). In my experience, this is just when the yarn itself doesn’t lend itself to the Russian Join.
Since working a Russian join involves threading the end of the yarn inside of itself, the yarn needs to have a noticeable ply that is tight enough for staying tightly coiled. Single-ply yarns, thin yarns like crochet threads, and yarns where the ply is too loose or spread apart are not going to work as well for this join. In those cases, my preference is to use the magic knot joining method.
So now that you know a little bit about the Russian join and how great it is, let’s go through the process of creating a Russian join from start to finish!
How to do a Russian join step by step
Step 1: Arranging the yarn
The first step of creating a Russian join is to get the two pieces of yarns you are joining and lay one one top of the other. It doesn’t really matter which piece is on top, as long as they are crossed. I find it easiest to lay them completely opposite of one another, or perpendicular.
As you can see, I am just holding my yarn. Although this works just fine, you may want to lay your pieces on a flat surface the first few times you practice this.
There should be several inches of yarn at the end of each piece after you lay them together. You will be threading each piece and working with it, so you want to have enough of a tail for that.
Step 2: The first yarn tail
Next, take your bottom end of yarn and thread it on your needle. Going back over the top piece of yarn, you are going to weave the end of yarn into itself at about the place where the two yarns cross.
To do this, insert the tip of the needle where the tail needs to be woven in. Gently work/wiggle the needle end into the center of all the strands of the yarn, right into the middle of the ply. Continue to do this for 2-3 inches(this will create a nice strong join), before pulling the needle through with the rest of your yarn tail. It should now be tightly looped and joined around the other piece of yarn.
The yarn you have just worked through will scrunch up, and that’s not a problem. We will smooth it back out in a moment. First though, we need to do basically the same thing with our other piece of yarn.
Step 3: The second yarn tail
Now we will thread the other side/piece of yarn on to our needle. With the first piece, we didn’t need to be super precise with where we started to weave the yarn in. This time, however, the yarn really needs to be worked in starting right where the yarns come together. Weave the second tail into that yarn in the same way that you did with the first piece.
When you are done, you should have two very similar sides of your join. The yarn you worked through should be scrunched or gathered up to some degree on both sides,and the remaining tails on either side should be sticking out of the main yarns where you pulled them through.
Now we can move on the the final part of this join, which will create a smooth and “invisible” finish.
Step 4: Smoothing the join and trimming
The final part of making a Russian join involves smoothing the scrunched yarn back out. With two fingers, simply pull gently on the scrunched yarn until it is spread back to it’s original length. It will be a bit thicker because of the extra yarn inside, but otherwise it should look about the same as before.
You can trim the remaining ends of yarn after smoothing out the scrunched yarn, or even before. With practice, you can trim your ends of yarn first, so that they disappear completely when you smooth the yarn, without being too short. This is how I generally do it, but either way works.
When you are done, the ends of yarn should be either hidden or cut even with the rest of the yarn. Your join should be discreet and only noticeable because it is a little bit thicker than the rest of your yarn(and of course, possibly by a change in color).
If any of this is a bit confusing, or if you’d just like to see a full demonstration of the Russian join, take a look at my video tutorial below.
Final Encouragement(and a tool for you!)
Now that you know how to do a Russian join, I hope it helps you get better results and save time weaving in ends when you’re done with all kinds of projects!
Whether you are just starting to learn crochet or you’ve been doing it for awhile, there are definitely always new things to learn.
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Have a great time using the Russian Join in all of your projects, and keep the crafting delightful!