Ever get so frustrated while trying to untangle yarn that you throw the entire thing in the trash? It happens. The frustration of how to untangle yarn can be too much for some people, and they just give up. However, there are many ways that can help you untangle yarn without losing your cool–and even how to avoid getting it tangled in the first place.
If you have been a knitter or crocheter for any length of time, you know that yarn tangles are bound to happen, and it’s best to be prepared for how to deal with them.
This article will explore different options for how to approach this problem, from sorting through the yarn with your fingers all the way through using a crochet hook or knitting needle to carefully work the tangles out.
Ready? Let’s begin!
Step One: Determine If It’s Worth Your Time to Detangle
Let’s face it, some yarns are worth saving and others, well, are not. Why spend hours to untangle a $2 skein of yarn when you could just go out and buy another skein without the hassle?
So let’s take a look at some of the factors that determine if a yarn skein is worth your time to mess with.
How much did it cost?
Was it less than $5? More than $20? The cost of the yarn is a big factor for me as far as how much time I’m willing to put into untangling it.
As a general rule, if it’s under $5 it’s probably best to just go get another skein if it will take very long to get rid of the tangled mess.
How long will it take?
If it’s going to take more than 30 minutes, really think about how much your time is worth vs the yarn. An inexpensive skein probably isn’t worth more than 30 minutes of trying.
Usually if you get yarn barf when you first pull out the center of a skein you can sort it out in less than 30 minutes, so it’s often worth trying. However, if it’s been over 30 minutes and you still haven’t made much headway, consider the cost of the yarn and if it’s just better to buy a new skein.
How bad is the tangle?
If you’ve figured out that it’s a yarn you want to save and it won’t take a ton of your time, evaluate how bad the snarled yarn is. How did it get tangled in the first place?
If somehow it became tangled while you were working with it, then the odds are that it’s a simple job of untangling yarn as there probably are not any knots or other items stuck in your yarn.
If, however, your child or cat (or dog!) got ahold of your yarn, you have a whole different set of challenges there. You may find a knot or two (or more) that you have to tackle, and you may even find other items knotted in your skein. Again, evaluate whether it’s worth it to untangle.
You’ll find worse tangles in lighter weights (like lace weight yarn) than in heavier ones like super bulky, so keep that in mind when evaluating your tangles.
Step Two: Untangle (Tips for Untangling)
Tip Number 1: Don’t Pull on the Yarn
I know this is super tempting to try and force it out, but in my experience this often just makes it worse.
I will gently tug to see where the strand is headed, but I’ve found that pulling hard on tangled yarn usually just makes a bigger mess.
Please, don’t do it.
Tip Number 2: Find Something to Take Your Mind Off the Job
Consider turning on Netflix, a podcast or audio book, or even just calling a friend while you work on this job. It will help the time to pass and keep you from feeling as frustrated.
Tip Number 3: Look for the Yarn Ends First
It will be much easier to untangle if you can find at least one end of the yarn (the yarn tail). That way, you can start rolling it into a little ball and weaving it in and out of the yarn tangle.
Even better if you can find both ends, but one will get you going on your way a lot faster than having no ends to work with.
Tip Number 4: Use a Knitting Needle or Crochet Hook to Help Detangle.
Lay the yarn flat on a table and use a needle or hook to help move the strands and keep them from crossing. This is a great way to get out knotted yarn, so if you find an actual knot in your yarn (that isn’t a knot made by the manufacturer to tie two ends together!), then use this technique for untangling knots.
If it is a tight knot, you might need to use a tapestry needle (the kind used for seaming pieces together) instead of a regular knitting needle or hook as it is smaller and can get in the knot better.
Tip Number 5: Consider Cutting Out the Most Snarled Part and Using it as Two Skeins
If you have a huge jumbled mess in the middle of your yarn but there is a lot that is salvagable, it would be best to “cut your losses” – quite literally in this sense – and just cut out the offending yarn.
Then, just use the rest of the yarn and when you get to the end treat it as if you were changing skeins or colors.
Tip Number 6: Keep it from Getting Tangled Again
Use a yarn winder once you’ve unraveled it all to keep it from getting tangled again. You can also use a yarn bowl to keep the skein in check so it doesn’t get out of hand again.
Here are a my favorites
- New Upgraded Style - The wooden yarn bowl is made of quality wood and has been finely processed, with a glossy smooth finish and no rough edges, which can protect your yarn. NOTE: The product is made of wood, the texture of each product will be different from the picture. Pictures are for reference only, please refer to the actual product.
- Convenient and Perfect Size - You don't need to worry about the ball of yarn rolling around and falling apart. The ball of yarn will spin in the bowl when you knit. 6*3 inch large yarn bowl can hold a 3.5oz ball of yarn
- Preventing Tangles - The yarn bowls for crocheting have a curled slot and hole design, you can thread the yarn end through the hole. The cut of bowl is smooth and will not jam the yarn so that the yarn steadily passes through the swirl during knitting
- Lightweight and Large Capacity - The yarn bowl for knitting is light enough and has a large capacity, that you can carry the yarn ball holder with you and carry out your great knitting projects anytime, anywhere
- Perfect Gift - Knitting supplies are an exquisite and high-quality wood product, which is best given to mothers, friends and lovers who like to make yarn and knit wool
- ✅ IMPROVED DESIGN - Our new version of the Yarn Winder and Yarn Swift got rid of several issues that our users were having previously (loose yarn guide, weak clamp etc).
- ✅ EASY TO SET UP AND TAKE DOWN - Both the Yarn Winder and Yarn Swift can be set up and taken down in less than a minute. Both attaches to any table edge or surface up to 1 3/4 inches easily.
- ✅ GOOD CAPACITY - The Yarn Winder transform skeins of yarn into yarn cakes (ball of yarn) easily and winds up to 4 ounces of yarn each time.
- ✅ EASY STORAGE - Both of our Yarn Winder and Swift are collapsible to a compact size for easy storage
- ✅ GREAT COMBINATION - Our Yarn Winder and Yarn Swift are carefully picked from several manufacturers to ensure that they are of the highest quality and compatible together.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this article about how to detangle yarn without losing your cool. It doesn’t have to be stressful to detangle yarn! You can find some Zen in it if you do it the right way.
Happy Knitting and Crocheting!