Keeping your yarn from tangling when working with multiple colours

a bag of small balls of yarn spills over a grey cloth with scissors and a camera

Multi-coloured projects are beautiful and who can resist those candy-like mini skeins that so many indy dyers stock? Whether you are working in stripes, spikes, stranded colourwork, intarsia or mosiac crochet you can still end up with the same problem: tangled yarn.

These are my top tips for keeping your yarn in order:

1/ Work from centre pull balls where possible (our tutorial on how to hand-wind them is here) they roll around less as you work so are less likely to tangle together.

2/Try keeping balls in socks or tights to keep them from unravelling

I used odd baby socks (I have three children we had lots of lonely socks by the end!) but clean toes of tights or stockings work well too, anything that will compress the ball a bit. This has two actions, firstly the compression helps stops the ball collapsing in on itself as you work from it (a major cause of lone ball tangles!) And secondly it means that the only tangles that can happen are in the section of yarn between the sock and the work, you can't get loose strands from the outside edges of the balls tangling together. If you move around with your work at all, this tip is worth its weight in gold.

3/ Think about the rotation as you change colours. Ideally you should pick up so that it wraps and then next time pick up so that it unwraps itself. Hard to describe particularly not knowing how many colours are involved but you always have the choice of picking up a yarn under or over the one you are holding, one will twist it more, the other will untwist it once. Being mindful of this can reduce tangles. This is something I'm terrible at in practice but really helps when I do remember to think about it.

4/Little and often. Regularly check and untangle the colours as you work to gently untwist them from one another rather than waiting until you can't even pull through enough yarn to make the next stitch. Remember, tangles affect your tension too!

Although if you are reading this article it may be because you are in a mess with your colours already. In which case, whenever I am untangling I remember what my dad once told me "if you have to pass it through a loop, you've lost the game." And you've really lost if you have to get the scissors out! But you were only playing with yourself anyway!

If you feel ready to tackle multi-coloured projects now, here are a selection of our patterns that use more than one colour.

Reading next

woman holds a hand wound ball of grey yarn
a tunisian crochet hook and yarn

Leave a comment

All comments are moderated before being published.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.