Make Your Own Magic Ball; Giveaway!

We’re rather fond of Laura Nelkin’s Gusto cowl pattern from our latest issue.

One of the things we love about it is that it’s a fantastic way to use up sock yarn leftovers. (We know you’ve got some lying around. It’s ok, no need to be ashamed. All sock knitters have leftovers.)

Laura’s design uses a homemade Magic Ball composed of sock yarn leftovers to create a fantastic one-of-a-kind stash-reducing knit. If you’re not familiar with these wonderful things, she’s kindly provided a tutorial for us.

Title Card for BlogOnce you’ve discovered the Magic Ball technique, we figure you’ll get totally hooked, and so we’ve arranged a giveaway: a signup for Laura’s Design Your Own Cowl Craftsy class. Take the yarn you’ve just made and indulge your own creative impulses! And because we love you and her, we’re also giving you a copy of her new book, too. One lucky reader will win both prizes.

The usual rules apply. Leave a comment on this post by midnight EST Wednesday October 22nd. One comment will be chosen at random to answer a skill testing question. If the commenter answers correctly they will win the yarn and the book. If you have already won a prize from us in the past year, please do give other knitters a chance.

Thanks to Craftsy for the class, to Potter Craft for the book, and as always, to Laura.


I’ve been a wee bit obsessed with designing for magic ball knitting lately and decided it was time to make a tutorial to show the magic knot I use for joining skeins.

Step 1: Choose Your Yarn!  I decided to play with my LYS’s excellent “stash” of Knitted Witt Gumballs for this tutorial. I choose enough to knit another Gusto as I can’t really get enough of that pattern! You can join together yarns in stash (see note below), or have a base yarn and join bits of color throughout it (like I did for Magmatic Boom).  This is where you get to be CREATIVE! Then begin to wind your yarn.

1skeins 2winding

Step 2: Lay down the two ends you want to join with the tails going in opposite directions.
3ready

Step 3: Take one end and go underneath the other end to the opposite side.

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Step 4: Then bring that end back over and lay it across itself.
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Step 5: Then take that end and go inside the loop you have created to make a overhand knot.
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Step 6: Pull tight.

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Step 7: Repeat with other tail.

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Step 8:  Holding onto the working yarn, start to pull in opposite directions.

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Step 9:  Keep pulling, the two knots will slide together.

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Step 10: Pull all the way tight!

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Step 11: Trim the ends VERY close to the knot, sharp scissors help!
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Step 12: Test your knot by yanking on it HARD! If you do not follow these steps exactly the knot will pop apart and it’s better to find that out now than while you are knitting!

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Jane Richmond has an excellent video that shows this knot, which is how I learned about it.  Thanks Jane!

I want to make a note that this knot is not perfect for every yarn and you should definitely test it with your yarn before you commit to it. I’ve heard that it doesn’t work well with single ply yarn, yarns with high silk content, and cellulose based fibers (like cotton, rayon and tencel).  You can put a bit of Fray Check on the knot, which will make it hold… but just do a test first to be sure, sometimes it can change the color and hand of your fiber.  Your other choice for joining the ends is to use a Russian Join, which will work on wool fibers but not the other fibers listed above.

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136 thoughts on “Make Your Own Magic Ball; Giveaway!

  1. Lotta

    Another great method of joining would be a braided one, may be a bit more work, but works even with really slippery yarns.

  2. Emme J

    I love using the magic knot for shawl knitting. I try to use it for almost every project with abrupt color changes.

  3. Carol Handshue

    Thanks for the great photos! It looks pretty easy to join the yarns. Would love to take the class!

  4. Pingback: Make Your Own Magic Ball; Giveaway! | Yarn Buyer

  5. Samina

    The book & Craftsy class both look like winners. And, this is a timely post, since I seem to be a wee bit obsessed with cowls right now.

  6. Debra Comer

    Cant wait to use this new to me technique. Loving the look of the cowl. This is a really nice Giveaway. Thank you, Knotty for alkyl you do for those of us that are fiber addicts. Its people like you that me it possible for me to knit the latest fashions.

  7. Elaina

    I love the magic ball method and have made 2 already! They ares till in my stash though, so it would be great to use Laura’s class to explore ways of applying the magic ball method to a self-designed cowl project.

  8. Marilyn (Merry) Fenton

    I recently took a class called Color Play that used a similar method to join darks and lights into 2 separate balls that you then used for a colorwork scarf. It was lots of fun so now I want to do it with sock yarn. So many ideas, so little time. : )
    wahoomerryf on Ravelry

  9. Ellen

    I am currently working through Laura’s Craftsy class on knitting lace. She’s an excellent teacher, and I’d love to take more classes by her.

  10. Rebecca

    Jane’s video is great. I always refer to it several times to make sure I do that knot correctly. One of these times the how-to will stick in my head.
    And Craftsy rox and so does Laura Nelkin! Thanks for the giveaway.
    Rav ID: knittingwithwords

  11. RichelleCK

    Such good timing! I just looked Laura’s latest book up on Ravelry to see all the patterns and am in love. Fingers tightly crossed!

  12. Cheryl

    Love the join video. Looked at a Russian join video as well. I would love to try making a magic ball and would really love to win the class. Thanks so much for offering!

  13. Maureen

    Oh my what a creative idea for the yarns and what a unique item someone will be able to wear. This is something new to me.

  14. Iryna B.

    Thank you very much for the knotting yarn ends tutorial and a wonderful opportunity to win the Craftsy class and the book! In my stash, I do have lots of leftovers and my precious handspun yarn too!
    Will keep my fingers crossed.

  15. Amanda

    Mmmm, cowls. Seriously isn’t that knot the best? I picked up some Fiber Optics gradient Yarn at MDSW and although it took a bit to get it all connected. Fantastic end result and no ends but 2 to weave in. 😀

  16. Christine

    Love that knot since I’ve been using it the past couple of months! Would also love the class and the book! Thanks.

  17. Ginny

    I really should try this. I need to get over the notion of no knots in my knitting. Rules are to be broken sometimes, right?

  18. Jak

    I love learning new knots for knitting. I might have to use this the next time I make a shawl to avoid having to weave in ends in lace. This is a deceptively simple knot and I love it.

  19. Barb

    I use the magic knot technique often but it still makes me nervous every time even though I have never had one come loose.

  20. Lisa

    Thanks for the tutorial. I will try that next time I’m joining. I would love a copy of Laura’s book and Craftsy class. I have some yarn awaiting the Prolix gloves and a don’t know yarn. Maybe it wants to be a cowl?

  21. JulesO

    I have seen the magic note video by Jane Richmond, but this is a good quick reference that I’ve pinned! Thanks! Love Laura Nelkin’s designs as well!

  22. Beth Rudo

    I would love to win. I’m a big fan of Nelkin designs and love to knit accessories: so much bang for your yarn bucks.

  23. Ana

    Just a note, the Russian join can be used for all fibers, it just doesn’t work well for one ply. Spit splicing is only good for animal fibers that will felt, like wool.

  24. Isa

    What a great idea! Though I’d love to see more magic ball projects around to have an idea of the outcome before I start one.

  25. Josiane

    I seriously have to knit more socks in order to gather enough leftover bits of yarn to make a magic ball that I could turn into something fun… That sounds like the very definition of a win-win situation!

  26. KieranElizabeth

    Thanks for the tutorial and the give away! My go-to for years has been the Russian join, but I’ll be trying this one out soon!

  27. G. K. Green

    Thanks for the giveaway … and for the great photos showing how to make knots in your magic ball … super useful!

    Ravelry: gkgreen

  28. Angela W

    Fun fact: clear nail polish works just as well as fray check, and many females will have that around the house already!

    Thanks again for the awesome giveaway, Knitty!

  29. Emily

    I love scrappy-looking knits (and the satisfaction of using up every last bit of yarn)! I’ll have to try making a magic ball sometime – the idea of using up scraps and having so few ends to weave in? Joy!

  30. Anna

    This helps explain why a friend of mine had magic knit failure on some MCN bases. Thanks for the tutorial!

  31. jean

    This is one of those “why didn’t I think of this” things! Spent a happy afternoon winding balls.

  32. Cristina

    I’m quite a new knitter, but I can already find enough yarn to make a magic ball..But I don’t need to worry, it’s completely normal..isn’t it?

  33. Amy C

    I like the knot tutorial, as well as the ideas on using up sock yarn leftovers. I know I’ll never make one of those hexipuff blankets – or rather, I’d make the puffs, but never put them together! I have 3 drawers stuffed to the gills! Even allowing for some of that collection to be used on mending, that still leaves me with an impressive testament to my love of knitting socks.

  34. Anne Marie Becka

    Love the knotting tip. Thanks! Laura N. Patterns are great — thanks for a great give-away!

  35. KittenWithAWhiplash

    I have used the Russian Join successfully with many yarns, including acrylic and other synthetics, but I make the joing longer than I would with wool. I’ve seen the weaver’s knot before, and tested it, but haven’t used it in a project. Thanks for the giveaway.

  36. Jean Younger

    Have to try this soon!also love the Russian join, but if think this will be better for different color yarns

  37. Jen

    What a great technique! I’m definitely going to try this out, and doing it by designing my own cowl would be great!

  38. Paula Wright

    Great knot that looks like it will never come undone, but it looks rather large. I guess it will depend on the yarn and what one is doing?

  39. Jeanne

    I have seen this technique but never have tried it. Looks like a fun way to use yarns you love and incorporate into a wonderful finished project.

  40. LindaR.

    Not one, but two, great prizes! Would love an ‘excuse’ to try making and using a magic ball…Thanks for the giveaway!

  41. RachelG

    Oh,wow! Pick me! Pick me! 🙂 I love Laura Nelkin’s designs, love cowls, AND have been lusting after her new book! Bonus: The cool tutorial for the magic ball technique. I’ve got the leftover sock yarn and I’m already scheming a Magic Ball whether I win or not. Thank you Knitty!!

  42. Angie

    Looks like a another nice, fairly inconspicuous way of connecting yarn that I wish I had known of when was working on my most recent project where the yarn was too thin to do a Russian join.

  43. Stacey

    Yes! very helpful post and I would LOVE to win the book and craftsy class. I have lots of leftovers that would love to be used.

  44. asteride

    I give my leftovers to the birds… you know, a nest with a little bit of cashmere and merino is always appealing. At least this is what I think when I can’t find the yarn bits I left outside. This time we’ll share….

  45. shannon

    thanks for this tutorial. I’ve always been interested in the magic ball technique, but never knew exactly how to do the knot.

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