Jean Greenhowe Designs

About Jean's Designs - Notes, Tips & History



In basic knitting technique instruction manuals, there are various methods for joining on a new ball or new colour of yarn. Knotting seems to be the most common but I have never liked any of the traditional methods. Around about 1970, I devised an excellent, foolproof method without using knots. This was eventually published in my hardback book Knitted Toysin 1986.

I believe that no-one else has managed to come up with this method because knitters and knitwear designers are only familiar with using round-pointed tapestry needles for sewing up garments and don’t normally use sharp pointed needles.

From the 1960s my designs involved two different crafts and therefore two kinds of sewing needles – tapestry for knitted garments and sharp sewing and darning needles for making woven fabric dolls and toys. This cross-over into sewn crafts lead me to the perfect joining-on solution.

The method is difficult to show clearly in a photograph and so I have given a diagram. For clarity, the knitted loop A and tail-end of yarn B are shown very loose when they should be tight and a detailed description follows.

First thread the darning needle with the new yarn. Hold the knitting needle in your left hand with middle to little fingers curled over the top of the knitting needle. Grasp the tail-end yarn B with forefinger and thumb of your left hand close to the loop A. Pull the tail-end B tight so that loop A is right up against the knitting needle.


Holding the tail-end of yarn tightly, pierce through the loop A and then the tail-end B with the point of the darning needle as shown in the diagram. The needle should pass through the yarn strands and to make sure this has happened, wiggle the needle and if the yarn strands slip or feel loose, try again.

When you have a good tight connection, pull the darning needle and new yarn through, leaving a tail-end of the new yarn.  When you knit the first stitch with the new yarn it should hold firm and secure and not slip open as it would with the knotted-on method.

With this darning needle method there are no knots to untie and the join is smooth, almost invisible. When working the next row, if there is a bit of slackness in the last ‘join-on stitch’, this can be tightened by pulling the tail-ends of yarn apart.

It takes a wee bit of practice to pierce right through the centres of the A loop and the B yarn strands but it does work beautifully. It is probably the best and most effective joining-on method in the history of knitting. You’ll soon wonder how you managed without it!

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