3 tips to untangle yarn SNAFU

Tips for Tangles

Imagine this, you go to your LYS and there’s the perfect skein of yarn. I’m not talking beautiful color nice feel, I’m talking the holy grail of fricken yarns! There’s a soft angelic glow about it and choirs of children sing for effect. In a cloud of euphoria you purchase this yarn, take it home and begin to wind it so you can cast on. As it turns out this yarn is not a divine fiber, it was the spawn of a tangled jumble that managed to Trojan horse itself into your house!

A tangled mess of yarn ends, but tangled nonetheless!

I know a friend of mine bought a yarn like this and I’ve had one or two myself. Usually it was my fault when something ended in a tangle, but there were a couple skeins where there was just no hope. This is something I’m trying to spare people; when I dye yarn, it gets tangled up. It’s dyed in skein form and tied three or four times to prevent tangling, but it happens anyway. Some of these skeins were REALLY tangled so my husband, Paul and I re-skeined them.

The dyeing process at work.

I’m going to give you tips that helped me out the most. First and foremost, when you realize you’ve got a tangled mess on your hands, don’t get frustrated. I know everyone is currently staring at their computer screen thinking, “Yea, you’ve got a snake’s chance in a typing contest of that one…”, but honestly, it’s very important.

Yes, that would be a bonafide yarn-barf.

The biggest thing that helped me keep my sanity is to never pull anything tight. You may need to loop one end around and through, but if there are no actual knots in the length of yarn it’s worth it. If you’re frustrated you’re much rougher with the yarn, you pull things a little harder and begin foaming at the mouth and growling curse words. Don’t feel embarrassed, it’s happened to all of us and everyone wants to exact some paleo neolithic revenge on the person that tangled that yarn, even if it is ourselves.

Ultra Blueberry perfectly re-skeined!

This particular technique is very hard to give advice on, the way I do it may not work best for you. When I realize I have a problem, I find an end of the skein. It doesn’t matter which one. If I’m balling the yarn, I will usually just take the ball off the winder and wrap the yarn around the ball itself. This way you can loosen the tangle and push the entire ball through the openings it needs to go through; like untying a gigantic knot. Just follow your strand through and you’ll come out on the right side of it.

You can leave the yarn a bit looser if it is on the swift like this!

Something else that managed to help me was fastening the swift to the counter sideways. This allowed me to untangle as I went without the danger of the skein falling off the swift. What are some tips that help you untangle or deal with particularly stubborn yarn?

This is part 1 of 5 in this series.

Go to part 2: A HAND-y Tip for measuring your knitting

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Mary Anne May 19, 2016 - 6:51 pm
I absolutely hate getting tangles in my yarn! Yarn barf is a mortal enemy in my books. Good thing I have a patient husband who is used to untangling fishing line and who cheerfully takes on my tangled messes and returns them to me in pristine order.
Michelle Nguyen May 21, 2016 - 1:03 pm
You're very lucky! I guess untangling yarn must be relaxing for him, it's much thicker and you can always see it!
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