There are a number of methods of joining yarn for your knit or crochet project. The Russian Join is just one of them, but let me tell you, it’s an amazing yarn join! I’m talking no yarn knots, no yarn tails, and no weaving in yarn ends.
It’s one of my favorite ways to join new yarn to my knitting projects.
Today I’m going to teach you how to make the Russian Join for knitting and crochet. I’ll share the pros and cons of this knitting technique, best uses, and even how to troubleshoot the Russian Join.
Let’s jump right in, shall we?
Yarn I Used for the Russian Yarn Join Tutorial
Reasons to Create a Yarn Join
Creating a yarn join is not the only reason to add new yarn to your knit or crochet project. There are other instances when you might need to join yarn. Let me mention a few.
Why You Might Need to Create a Yarn Join:
- You’ve reached the end of your ball of yarn and you need to join a new yarn ball.
- You need to change colors in your knitting project (or crochet).
- You’re using hand dyed yarn and need to alternate skeins.
- There’s a knot in your yarn from the milling process that you want to remove.
Whatever the reason, you’ll need to know how to add a new skein of yarn. The Russian Join is a great way to connect yarn ends and it creates a nearly invisible yarn join.
Let’s talk about the tools you’ll need for this tutorial.
Tools for the Russian Yarn Join
- Large Eye Blunt Needle or Tapestry Needle
- Two Yarn Ends to Join Together
- Sharp Scissors (optional)
Tools for the Russian Yarn Join
Ok, you've gathered your supplies for this tutorial. Now, let's begin.
How to Russian Join Yarn (Knitting or Crochet)
For this tutorial, I’ve used photos from a knitted poncho project I’m working on. In my examples, you’ll see that I’m starting with the yarn tail from my working yarn. Don’t get hung up on this though.
It doesn’t matter which yarn end you begin with for the Russian join. It also doesn’t matter how soon you join your yarn. It’s all a matter of personal preference.
Just don’t wait until your yarn tail is too short. Otherwise, you’ll have to tink your knitting to add more yarn to work with. (Learn more about knitting slang here.)
Okay, here we go.
Joining the First Skein of Yarn
To begin, take your large eye blunt needle and thread the eye with one end of yarn. Leave a four to five inch (4“- 5”/ 10 cm – 13 cm) yarn tail (as shown above).
Next, turn the needle tip and insert it into the yarn strand. Try to keep it at the center of the yarn plies as best as you can for about two inches (2”/5 cm) or more. You can go further, but shorter is not recommended.
TIP: The further you go into the yarn, the stronger your Russian yarn join will be.
As you work your tapestry needle into the yarn, leave a small loop at the end (as shown in the picture above).
TIP: Having trouble getting the needle through? Try using a large eye needle that has a thinner shaft than your yarn weight.
Continue to push/pull the needle through the center of the yarn plies. The yarn will bunch up as you do this. That’s okay.
Honestly, it’ll look a mess at first but it’ll smooth out when you’re done. Don’t worry about tidying it up now. You can do this after you join the new ball of yarn. Keep going.
Once you’ve run the needle through the center of the yarn for at least 2”, poke the tip of the needle out of the strand. While holding the end loop open, pull the yarn tail through and remove the large eye blunt needle.
You're halfway there. Now you'll repeat the process to join a new skein of yarn.
Joining the Second Skein of Yarn
With the tapestry needle, thread the second yarn tail through the eye as before. Remember to leave a 4-5 inch tail.
Pass the threaded needle with the second yarn through the loop created from the first yarn. This step is what joins the two pieces of yarn together so it’s important that you don’t overlook it.
Again, repeat the previous process. Insert the large eye needle through the center of the yarn plies and create a second loop.
Pull the yarn tail through and remove the tapestry needle when you are done.
Now you can adjust your Russian Join. Tug gently on the two strands to smooth out the yarn fibers but hold off on trimming the excess yarn.
Keep in mind that the yarn will be slightly thicker where the Russian Join occurs, but this is natural. The important thing is for it to be as smooth as possible.
The loops should also close with some gentle tugging. If they don't, read on to learn how to fix them.
How to Tighten Your Russian Join
Sometimes, after you’ve completed your yarn join, you’ll find that it’s loose or find the loops still open. Don’t worry. You can fix it!
Working on one side of the loop, hold the yarn tail and the other strand of the same yarn skein.
Tug on the yarn tail to slide it up all the way to the yarn join. The yarn will bunch up again. That’s good. Now, with the other end (not the tail) of the same yarn, tug the strand. The bunched up yarn will slide back down.
Notice that the loop has closed completely. Your join may also be smoother.
Repeat the process on the other loop if necessary. When you’re done, you can take your scissors and trim the yarn tail.
When to Use the Russian Join
The Russian Join is one of the best ways to join yarn, in my opinion. It’s versatile and creates a seamless yarn join that can be used for knit or crochet, knitting in the round (circular knitting), or flat knitting. It’s also a great option for leftover yarn projects using scrap yarn.
It creates a strong, nearly invisible yarn join that won’t come apart, and works well with most animal (wool), cellulose (cotton), and synthetic yarn fibers. You can learn more about what type of fiber you're working with by reading its yarn band label.
The Russian Yarn Join won’t work with lace weight yarn, light fingering yarn, or sock yarn (fingering). It’s also not recommended for knitting projects that use roving wool (single ply yarn), or novelty yarns (boucle, faux fur, chenille, etc.). The yarn needs to be substantial enough to run a tapestry needle through the center of and, unfortunately, these are often too thin or too irregular to do so.
Okay, so we’ve covered why you might need to join yarn, knitting tools you need, how to make the Russian Yarn Join, and when (and when not) to use it. Now, let’s sum up with the pros and cons of this yarn join.
Pros for the Russian Yarn Join
- Joins yarn without a knot.
- Can be made ahead of time.
- Nearly invisible yarn join.
- Easy knitting technique that’s versatile.
- Good option when you can't spit splice.
- No weaving in the ends of your knitting.
- Creates a clean transition between yarn colors.
- Great method for joining scrap yarn together.
- Works for flat knitting and when knitting in the round.
- Can be used with most yarn weights and most yarn fibers.
- Creates a strong, seamless yarn join that won’t come apart.
- Excellent for large, single color knitting projects (like baby blankets).
- Requires no additional steps after you’ve completed your knit or crochet project.
Cons for the Russian Yarn Join
- Can’t be used on all yarn weights.
- Won’t work with all yarn fiber types.
- Takes a little time to make the join.
- Not suitable for planned color changes.
- Doesn’t work with all knitting or crochet projects.
- Sometimes visible because of the thickness of the join.
- Difficult (or impossible) to use on single ply yarn, 2 ply yarn, or roving yarn.
As you’ve just learned, the Russian Join is an easy and useful yarn join that works well for both knitters and crocheters. Best of all, it avoids yarn tails and weaving in ends in your knitting. You gotta love that!
Give it a shot and find out if the Russian Yarn Join works well for you. Drop me a comment and let me know what you think.