Most knitters have been taught from day one not to tie knots in their yarn—or, at a minimum, not to do so mid-row. We’ve learned to time our yarn changes to take place at the end of a row. Even if we tie a wee knot, we also leave a generous tail to be darned in later for extra protection.
When working with protein fibers, the more adventurous of us have also learned how to spit-splice two ends together, letting moisture and friction adhere the fibers into one continuous, although possibly still a little lumpy, strand.
But the more I work with yarn—especially now that I’m actually making it too—the more I realize that knots are inevitable. Somewhere along the line, you’ll need one. Instead of doing everything possible to avoid it, we can learn to tie a good one.
Meet the Fisherman’s Knot
This knot, my friends, is a very good knot. It’s particularly great for colorwork projects where you’d otherwise have a thousand tiny ends dangling from each end of your fabric. I learned it years ago at a conference, it might have been from Lucy Neatby or perhaps Cat Bordhi. I was reminded of it in a recent conversation with Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, who is also a big fan of this knot.
I thought it was a knitter’s invention, but it comes from our clever seafaring friends who developed knots for pretty much everything. Called a Fisherman’s Knot, you may also see it described as the Angler’s or Halibut knot.
What’s Knot to Love?
It looks impressive but is dead simple. Think of your ends as two people who want to hug. One end will come in and hug the other (by “hug” I mean it will form an overhand knot around that end). Then the other, surprised and pleased, will reciprocate by moving in for its own hug. Tug both ends and watch the knots march closer together until, presto, they form one super-strong, well-balanced knot with great stability and very little wobble.
A Few Caveats
As miraculous as this knot is, I wouldn’t recommend it for tremendously high-abrasion projects (sock heels beware). And I’m certainly not suggesting you go adding knots willy nilly, especially to slippery yarns, if you’re much happier with your current technique.
But you needn’t go to heroic lengths to avoid knots, either. And for those gorgeous colorwork projects and gradient kits that use 12 or more colors, this is a perfect way to avoid the mind-numbing task of darning hundreds and hundreds of ends.
Words can’t really explain it, so I made a video for you. Enjoy!