Ooooh, this is one of my favouritest little things to do now. It’s called spit splicing, and it’s a really, really easy way to join two balls of wool yarn together. Knitting a lace shawl? No problem. Don’t sew those ends in later; spit splice them together now!
It’s a wonderfully firm and permanent join. You can tug on it and hear the yarn twang, it’s so secure.
I first tried this technique with acrylic yarn and was really disappointed. It didn’t work at all. Then, I was lucky enough to take a weekend of workshops with Nancy Bush — THE Nancy Bush, of Knitted Lace of Estonia and other gorgeous, advanced techniques and patterns — and I asked her opinion on the best way to join my yarn tails together. I thought she might say, “Sew the ends in with duplicate stitch afterwards.” To my surprise, she said to spit splice them! No ends to sew in later in complicated, airy lace.
The catch is this technique only works with the kind of yarn that felts. It has to be made of wool, or at least mostly wool. (Alpaca, camel, cashmere, angora, and other animal fibers all count as wool.) I’ve tried it with Berrocco Vintage (a wool-acrylic-nylon blend) and it worked okay.
It works best when joining two balls of the same colour together. I wouldn’t use it for joining in stripes. You’ll see why in the example below.
How to Spit Splice
Unravel about 1.5 – 2 inches of the ends of each tail. If it’s plied, unwind all the plies. If it’s a single ply, untwist and gently separate the tail into 3 or 4 strands. (I’ve done this with Manos del Uruguay Fino, a fingering-weight single ply, and it worked great.)
Lay the tails down, end to end, overlapping them where you’ve untwisted the strands. Intertwine the strands a little, laying them flat across and next to each other. They should all be parallel to each other, with no curls that will make a mess in the felting.
Put the overlapped strands in your mouth and get them nice and wet. Make sure you haven’t just been drinking coffee or eating chocolate, or your yarn will turn brown. Rinse first! 🙂 You can, if you’d rather, simply wet the yarn with clean water.
Roll and rub the join in your palms. It’s just like rolling play dough into a worm.
Rub for about 20 – 30 seconds, until the yarn is mostly dry, and the strand is felted together. It will be fat at first, but as it felts, it will shrink into a size that matches the yarn.
You’ll know it’s done when you pull on both strands and the join twangs without budging.
Resume knitting as normal, knowing your work is done and you won’t have to come back later to sew anything in. Woohoo!
This post is part of my 31 Days to Your Nicest Knitting series. Every day, I’ll post a new tip or trick to make your knitting nicer. You can follow along easily by subscribing. If you have any knitting problems you’d like me to fix, let me know and I’ll try to answer your question as part of the series. You can find all the posts in the series here.