As much fun as mud pies

I’ll readily admit it – I’m as easily amused as your average 5-year-old. Sit me down in front of an anthill or give me a kaleidoscope, and go do your shopping. (I’ve decided to consider this a charming personality trait rather than an indicator of mental development.)

Anyhow, it turns out that starting over on that sleeve had another benefit. I cannot imagine WHY I didn’t think of splicing all those color changes the first time around, but I didn’t. Probably because I haven’t had very good experiences with that technique the few times I’d tried it in the past, but boy am I over the hump on that one now. Turns out that spit splicing is as much fun as making mud pies! Not to mention the fact that it relieves me of the responsibility of weaving in hundreds of ends, which I was totally prepared to do. What an idjit I am was.

Here’s a picture of the inside of my sleeve in the current iteration:

Look, Ma, no yarn ends!

Look, Ma, no yarn ends!

Compared to the first time around:

The private side.  Lots of ends to weave in!

The private side. Lots of ends to weave in!

See?!? I’m still shaking my head over that one. What was I THINKING???

So here’s my little tutorial on “spit splicing”. Basically, what you do is thin out the yarn ends you want to join, fold them back over each other and felt them together. Of course, this only works with yarns that will felt! Don’t bother with this technique if you’re using superwash wool, cotton, or anything else that is non-felting. You’ll want to look at Russian splicing for those.

First, each end of yarn needs to be divided; in this case, I’ve untwisted the plies for about 2 inches, and broken off one ply. On a three-ply yarn, you may want to break one ply at 2 inches and another at 1 inch. Breaking is definitely better than cutting – you want the fibers on those ends nice and open and kind of frayed.

Plies separated and ends broken off

Plies separated and ends broken off

Now lay them across your palm so that they cross each other about 1 inch from the end. Fold each one back along itself, looping it over the other one. Make sure that all the ends are lying neatly in order, not bunched up in spots.

Broken ends looped over each other

Broken ends looped over each other

Here comes the fun part. Get the folded-over sections nice and wet, being careful to spit out any loose fibers that stick to your tongue. (Sure, you can use plain water for this, but where’s the fun in that?)

Wet down and ready to roll...

Wet down and ready to roll...

Then vigorously rub your hands together, rolling the yarn until you can feel heat from the friction. Check to see if they are nicely joined, and repeat as needed. If you do it just right, you can hardly even tell where the yarns change.

Hard to tell that there's a change from one yarn to another!

Hard to tell that two yarns are joined here!

Ta da! You have provided, on a miniature scale, the elements required for felting: the right kind of fiber + heat and moisture + agitation. It’s amazing how strong and invisible this join can be.

Okay, I’ll admit that so far, I have only done this in the privacy of my own home, and my family members don’t bat an eyelash. This little exercise might get some funny looks out in the real world, though, and I’d probably think twice before spit splicing in public. Maybe. Then I’d do it anyway.

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7 Responses to As much fun as mud pies

  1. heidi says:

    Your tutorial is really excellent, clear and well written with concise and excellent photos!

    I’m doing that with my autumn rose pullover. I calculated that I would have to sew some 400 ends, and then it was an easy decision:)

    your sweater is really coming along most beautifully! And doesn’t it feel wonderful when you intuition is right:)

    I’m really looking forward to see it finished!

  2. Sharon says:

    I ran into the link to this on Ravelry, and wanted to tell you what a great little tutorial it is! I made it through one fair isle swatch before realizing that splicing at the color changes is the way to do. At first I thought it would be a pain, but it’s nothing compared to facing all of those ends! Keep spreading the word!

  3. Jennifer M says:

    Thank you for sharing your technique for ‘spit splicing’. I,too, haven’t had very good luck with this technique. After your tutorial, I am emboldened to give this one more try. If only I’d read your blog before I started my latest project.

  4. Carol says:

    Thank you so much – a godsend! Now that I know this, I’ll probably do a lot more colorwork.

    • prairiespinner says:

      Thanks, Carol!  I must say, that little discovery rather rocked my own knitting world.  😉

      So, I clicked on over to your site, and what do I see but the gorgeous Kelmscott!!  One of these days, I AM going to knit that lovely sweater.  And in my brief browse through your site, I saw several other eye-catching designs.  I’m definitely going back for a better look when I have more time!

      – Sharon

  5. Jill says:

    Wonderful tutorial but I have one question. 2″ is the length of yarn you used for each change in your sleeve or just for education purposes? I’m tackling my first large Fair Isle, while I don’t mind weaving in the ends so far, it’s a long way to a FO.

    • prairiespinner says:

      I tried to describe the process as closely as possible to the way I did it in the sweater. I found, with experience, about how many stitches from the ‘seamline’ I needed to make the splice so the color change would fall in the right place; but since the color changes were pretty subtle, it didn’t matter if it was one or two stitches from the ideal spot!
      This sweater is fingering weight yarn, but something heavier might require ends a bit longer for stability. As always, swatching with the new technique is time well spent!
      Good luck with your project! I would love to see pictures when you’re done!

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