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Darning in the loose ends

So there you are – the gansey is finished. To be sure, it looks a bit strange, since it hasn’t been washed and dried and blocked into its proper shape –the cables will pull the body out of shape, and the shoulders won’t be straight, and if you try it on you’ll panic because it will feel several sizes too small – but at least all the hard work is over.

Or so you thought. But you can’t relax and pour yourself a celebratory gin and tonic and open that box of Belgian chocolates just yet. If you’re anything like me, you’ll still have all the loose ends of all the balls of wool you’ve used dangling like little rats’ tails on the inside of your gansey.

They’re probably fine as they are, and won’t unravel. But just to be on the safe side – and because we are naturally neat and tidy, and always put our toys away – it’s a good idea to darn the loose ends in.

Take a good, stout sewing needle, with (and this is important for those of us with poor eyesight and fat, clumsy fingers) a nice big eye to thread the yarn through. Then darn each loose end through the back of as many stitches as you like, just to secure it, and snip off the remainder with a pair of scissors.

I expect it’s because this is the only occasion in my life when I ever use a sewing needle in anger, but I find myself getting carried away and darning in several inches of yarn unless I am forcibly restrained.

One final point on darning. There are occasions in any gansey – such as when you pick up stitches around the armhole, or the collar – when it is very difficult not to end up with the odd small (and not-so-small) holes, gaps in the seamless fabric of your gansey. Use this opportunity, when you are darning in leftover strands of yarn, to close those gaps – I think of it like darning holes in a sock, but that’s probably just because I’ve never darned a sock in my life. But it just gives you a chance to check over your gansey and close any remaining loopholes.

3 comments to Darning in the loose ends

  • Stephanie Fitzgerald

    Dear Gordon,

    I thought you might like this tip. Many moons ago back in the early sixties when my eyesight was better and my young fingers quite clumsy) mum taught me to weave in ends as I knitted. For two or three stitches knit the yarn of the old and new ball together (or splice them it’s up to you) leaving yourself about 3 inches of old ball at the BACK of knitting.

    Then as you knit flick the strand of yarn up and knit one stitch, then flick it down and knit the next stitch. Continue doing this until yarn is covered. On the next round weave in the end of the new ball. This is a very neat and only takes a few seconds extra and saves all that sewing in at the end. Which I hate doing. Of course some ends have to be sewn in.

    Lately I’ve taken to splicing the yarn and weaving in two ends at once. Strangely enough I’ve found it looks even neater doing two ends together even if they are not spliced as it balances the weave in. If starting a new ball at the beginning of a row don’t start weaving in the yarn until two rows have been worked. This can’t be done on reversed stocking stitch but is possible on gansey textured patterns if you choose the right place in the pattern to do it.

  • Nigel

    That’s a great tip Stephanie. I’ll try it.

  • Gordon

    Eek – apologies for responding to this at the time you posted, Stephanie – sometimes I don’t get an alert when a comment is made and I miss it. But as Nigel says, a very useful tip and thanks for taking the time to post it.

    Apologies again,

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