Colorful designs delight most crocheters — but actually working them up can be a struggle. With so many strands to juggle, it’s easy to wind up with tangles and a big yarn mess. But a mess of yarn is completely avoidable! Read on for tip tips that’ll help you keep multiple skeins of yarn neat and tidy as you work.
TIP #1: KEEP YOUR YARN CONTAINED
First and foremost, keep each individual yarn ball contained, separated from the others. When each one has its own place, they can’t get tangled with each other.
CONSIDER USING YARN BOWLS
The problem of tangled yarn can easily be solved with yarn bowls. Just put each ball of yarn in its own bowl, running the yarn through a hole in the bowl so you can use it without the yarn coming out of the bowl. Each bowl is separate from the others, keeping your yarn manageable and organized.
OR, TRY A SIMPLE YARN BOWL ALTERNATIVE
Yarn bowls are a worthwhile investment, but you don’t have to buy them to achieve the same effect. There are some great options for DIY yarn bowls.
- Cut the tops off of 2-liter plastic bottles and put one ball inside each bottle.
- Try other household containers, like empty oatmeal containers, mason jars, and tissue boxes.
- Place each ball of yarn in its own zip-top bag, closing the bag with just enough open at the top for the yarn strand you are working with to come through.
IF YOU PREFER TO KEEP IT SIMPLE, JUST PLACE EACH SKEIN ON EITHER SIDE OF YOU
If you don’t have yarn bowls or any alternative available, the next best thing is to physically separate the balls of yarn from one another. Placing yourself in the middle of them is a great choice; put one ball on your left and one on your right. Have a third color? Place it right in front of you.
TIP #2: PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR YARN STRANDS
There are plenty of crochet patterns that you can do mindlessly, while watching TV or meditating. Colorwork projects do not fall into that category!
You should pay more careful attention when working with multiple skeins of yarn so that you avoid and fix tangles.
WATCH HOW YOU PICK UP THE YARN
Always be consistent in how you switch to a new color. This is particularly true in tapestry crochet, but it’s relevant to other projects, too.
When working with two colors, always bring Color A over the top of Color B, whether you are switching from A to B or B back to A. This prevents twisting of the two skeins. You can also use a yarn guide to help you when working with two colors of yarn.
ALWAYS TURN THE WORK THE SAME WAY
Similarly, strive for consistency when you turn your work around. When turning the work at the end of the row, you should always turn it the same direction, either toward or away from you.
LOOK FOR TWISTING
That brings it's to the next point, which is that tangles begin with just a little twist of two (or more) colors of yarn. Make it a habit to periodically check the yarn as you work, to see that each strand is a solo strand, untwisted with any others. It’s much easier to untangle one twist than a dozen!
TIP #3: CHOOSE THE RIGHT YARN
Making smart selections when purchasing your yarn can make it a lot easier on you in terms of avoiding tangling. Here are some helpful tips:
LOOK FOR CENTER-PULL SKEINS, OR WIND YOUR OWN
Center-pull yarn allows you to easily pull the yarn from the center of the skein without the whole thing unraveling or moving around. Since it naturally stays in place, this type of yarn helps prevent tangling even when doing intensive color work.
You can find some skeins that are ready to purchase in a center-pull ball, but with yarn that comes in a hank, you’ll have to wind it yourself.
Note: Some crafters actually find the opposite — that working from center-pull balls increases tangling. Pay attention to your own experience and make the choice that works best for you.
CHOOSE FIBERS THAT UNTANGLE EASILY
In the event that everything you do fails and you do get tangled in your work, you want to be able to easily unwrap them and move on. Some fibers, such as mohair, will stick to itself and become almost impossible to easily work back. When working with many colors, try cotton and other forgiving fibers that you find easy to un-knot.
TIP #4: PREVENT TANGLES WHEN STORING AN UNFINISHED PROJECT
Sometimes the tangles aren’t so bad when you are working on a piece but then you have to put a WIP away. Yarn can easily get tangled, even while you’re not busy stitching.
A good tip is to place each ball of yarn into a project bag, packed tightly so that they can’t move around. Attempt to place them in the bag in the same order, from left to right, that you have them as you work. Put stitch markers in the work itself and place the work on top of the yarn skeins in the bag.