Spit Splicing

Nick wanted to know how the heck I join the end of the last yarn to a new ball of yarn when I was knitting. I thought I would share my favorite technique, called the Spit Splice.

Now, as discussed in blocking creatures of the reef, any time we use a wool yarn, we need to be concerned about felting. Felting happens in wool when temperature is changed, moisture is added, and friction is created. A good example of felting on purpose is the needle case I made a few months back. Many people love felting wool for the dense thick unusual fabric it creates. While I think it is quite fascinating, I am not terribly interested in doing it on a regular basis. Just a personal preference.

With the spit splice, we are using the wools tendency to felt to our advantage. Please keep in mind this can be done with wool or wool blends, but not silk (much to my chagrin!)

We will start off with the spanish christening blanket I am working on.
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I am currently at the end of my second ball of yarn, so I need to join the third.
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Yarn is made up of ply’s. A single is fiber which has been drafted and spun on a wheel. Double ply is when fiber has been drafted and spun separately as singles and then the 2 singles have been plyed (spun together). Consequently, 4 ply is 4 singles plyed together. (Um….I am not yet a spinner, so if anyone is reading this and has a better explanation, feel free to chime in and comment, I am just going with my most basic understanding!)
In this case, I have a 4 ply merino yarn. What I want to do, is take the end, unspin it a bit (twist it in the opposite direction it wants to go) and divide the plys in half.
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I then do that to the other side as well, and snip off 2 plys from each end.
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Now I want to join the yarn. I take each snipped end and twist them gently together.
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I then place them in my hand (Hey look! That is me wearing my creatures of the reef shawl!!!)
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This is where the name “spit splice” comes in to play. Remember, we need change in temperature (your hands), Friction (we will get to that) and moisture. So when reading most instructions on spit splicing, they say to lick your hands.
Well, I work in microbiology research, and I am not about to lick ANYTHING around here, not even my own hands.
So I use a bit of water from my water bottle. This picture shows too much, but it doesn’t matter really.
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Then I put my hands together, and rub the yarn vigorously between them. That gives me all 3 things needed to felt the yarn, change in temperature, friction, and moisture.
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I am left with this, which doesn’t look perfect, but it will do. It is also quite damp (remember I added too much water?) so when it dries, it will fluff back up.
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Once I knit it into my project, you cannot see where it was done and it provides a sturdy join.
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I love spit splicing for a number of reasons. First, it allows me to use ALL of my precious yarn, rather than leaving an end, so it appeals to my frugal nature. Also, it allows me to avoid weaving in a bunch of ends, which thrills me to pieces, as that is my least favorite knitting activity. And finally, remember, knots unravel, woven ends often look sloppy, but spit splicing is forever!

7 thoughts on “Spit Splicing

  1. Oh really? You are getting a hand knit scarf out of the deal and you want to complain about a little spit? Oh get over it! You better never have kids!

    Oh, did I mention that wool has natural antibacterial qualities? Even if I did get adventurous and lick my own hands here at work, it would only harm me, but your wool scarf would still be free and clear.

  2. That is a fantabulous explanation! I’m giving up my ends and going to try it; I’ve got to start the next ball shortly for the scarf I’m working on.

    And I believe I read somewhere that the yarn you are using for Nick’s scarf requires extra spit, no?

  3. Yes, actually, it does. Seeing as this is a microbiology research facility, we need to test those antimicrobial properties of wool. 😉

  4. I love this method of joining yarn. Unfortunately, I often forget about it until I’m finished with the project and weaving in a bazillion ends, cursing myself the entire time for not spit-splicing.

  5. Why does this split splicing not work for silk? I do mini knitting with silk embroidery strands and need to join them for longer threads. The product I am using at the moment is 7 ply and I knit with just one ply of it so I would like to join all seven lengthwise without having a lot of ends to weave in. Am I making sense? Do you have any suggestions?

    Thanks ever so much!

    Linda P

  6. Pingback: My top 10 knit tools and techniques list « Pascale’s Points

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