It's a very common crochet problem. We've all had to untangle yarn. The skein may look innocent in the store, begging you to bring it home. Sometimes it loves you through the entire project it was destined to be. Other times, it becomes a complete headache and you may wonder if it's worth it. And if you're reading this article, you think like I think...
Yarn is Worth it !
Continue reading to learn 9 ways to untangle those headache snarls. And instead of banging your head attempting to tame those tangles, learn what to do to never have this mess again! Because, let's face it. Tangles don't discriminate. Thin yarn, thick yarn, balls, hanks, or skeins, tangles are never ending fiends!
#1: Get Some Tools!
Don't try to tame that tangle with just your hands alone! A yarn needle, small crochet hook, even a tweezers may help. Using these tools will help weave yarn through or around tighter clumps. Attempting to untangle Mohair? Your freezer can become an ally. Freezing the fibers will help tremendously!
#2: Find the Ends!
Or end. If you have yarn vomit (aka, you pulled the center hoping for a single end strand but instead got the entire inside clump), the second end of still nicely contained. If the entire skein is a mess, find both. Finding at least one end is required. Once you do, start winding it around a few fingers to create a ball of yarn with untangled yarn. Use a stitch marker to mark the other end so you don't have to search for it again.
#3: Loosen those Knots!
Find a clean, flat space that you can work that has enough room to spread out, and that you can leave your work for breaks. The key to untangling yarn is to loosen the knots, not make them tighter. Spread it out! Looking at a tight clump can seem impossible. But spreading it out will make it more manageable and a little less intimidating.
#4: Don't Pull! Don't Cut!
Continuously repeat this to yourself even before you start. You may want to. Just don't! #3 had you loosen and spread out the tangle. Pulling will just clump it back up and you'll be starting all over. Instead, use your tools. Also note that scissors was not included in the tool list. As much as you may want to cut the yarn, don't! This won't necessarily loosen the section and then when it finally is unwound, you'll be constantly joining in new sections when using the untangled yarn.
#5: Group into Sections!
It's great to loosen and spread out like stated in #3. But it's even better to separate into sections. Not all tangled yarn will be willing to give you nice sections but if you can, it's highly recommended! This makes it even more achievable.
#6: Take Breaks!
Starting to feel frustrated? Got a headache from straining your eyes? Haven't moved in more than 15 minutes? Take a break! Go grab a snack, move around, work on a project. Something! Your yarn won't run away (unless you have cats, then it might). If you have a space that can remain undisturbed for a length of time, even take the rest of the day off. Try to do something enjoyable though, that way you come back refreshed and ready to take on the tangle a second time (or third or fourth).
#7: Get a Buddy!
Ask a friend or family member for help! I will say that having a fiber-loving buddy will sympathize and be happy to help... or maybe not. Bribing may be necessary. Regardless if you have a friend or not, make it enjoyable with a movie, music, or my personal favorite, a podcast.
#8: Pay Someone!
Time is precious. This isn't a quick task. And, believe it or not, there are people out there that fine pleasure in unscramble skeins. If untangling just isn't for you, reach out to those who may. Ask a friend, search for "Yarn Wranglers", or visit "Knot a Problem" to see if someone may be willing to take your place.
#9: Is it really worth it?
If you've read everything, and are still questioning if this yarn is worth it, maybe it's not. Is it a skein you can easily replace or is it a hand dyed one-of-a-kind hank? Sometimes, it may not be worth it and it would be better off in the trash. Or donated to one of those Yarn Wrangles that love the challenge!
How to Never Untangle Yarn Again!
This may seem like extra work but in retrospect, this will save you from ever having to untangle yarn again. Invest into a Yarn Ball Winder as well as the time to wind your yarn into cakes. You can create your own center pull without ever having to worry about tangles!
This may seem like an annoying extra step in the beginning but after you get into a habit of doing so, it'll eliminate any future tangles.
Though I do wish you smooth crocheting will all your yarn, if you happen to run into this problem, I hope this helped. Tell me, have you tried any of these? Which ones helped the most?
Thank you for this great information. The Mohair one was a real bonus. Who knew?!! I just have to remember it if/when I work with Mohair.
I do have to say that I have used most of these methods (except Mohair) in the past but I’ve never paid anyone to untangle my mess! And I am a Yarn Wrangler…for me it’s a challenge. Because it’s a challenge I almost never toss yarn. It just kills me to waste.
When I do get yarn barf it isn’t usually a lot so I just put my fingers on the end of the skein and rewind around my fingers and the skein so the rewinding doesn’t stretch the yarn. I do the same when I have a pile of frogging to wind. Sometimes I use my yarn winder. “Oh the things we do, when knots and tangles we must undo”!!!!