Monday, August 22, 2011

Hoping to Prevent a few Skein Headaches...

I spent the better part of a week trying to unknot this 800 yard skein of yarn and convert it into a useable ball, with the assistance of the boyfriend. (Who was not only wise and witty, but also very patient!)

I tend to have bad luck with skeins and in this case the second I cut the two ends free and gave one a tug it seemed I had a gigantic clump of knots. I think the only thing that prevented me from tearing my hair out was the fact that the yarn in question was partially rayon and quite slippery. Rather then ending up with tight knots, the yarn was slippery and easy to untangle, but incredibly time consuming.

Not wanting to go through the same headaches with other skeins I have waiting to be unravelled, I thought I'd turn to the internet for some advice. After all, I'm sure I'm not the only one that is skein challenged out there.

Out of my searching comes this video, courtesy of Twenty Pound Tabby, that demonstrates how to untwist a skein of yarn:

Followed by a Part 2, which shows how to wind a skein into a ball:

I think there's some great advice in these videos, plus I'm totally digging the instructor's Animal t-shirt!

My purpose for sharing this is twofold. First, I'm hoping it will help some other knitters and crocheters who are plagued by tangled skeins. Second, I was hoping we could get a discussion going in the comments section for further tips, advice or questions about unravelling skeins. Have you seen any other great advice related to this elsewhere on the web? If so, feel free to share a link or tell us about your own skein unravelling experiences.

I don't buy skeins too often so I don't want to invest a lot of money in gadgets like the ball winder or an umbrella swift. We don't even have any four post legged chairs, like the one in the video, in our house. I'm looking at the knobs on our bi-fold closet though and wondering if I could use them in place of the chair legs? Any other ideas for common household items that could make the skein unravelling/ball winding process easier? I'd love to hear your ideas!


Anonymous said...

I'm put in mind of my mom.. she brings her skeins to a local knitting shop; they have a machine there that rolls the skeins into balls of yarn for her for a nominal fee.

Anonymous said...

Oooh this ball-winding gadget is my dream! They're not sold here so one day I'll buy this thing off ebay. For now - hand-winding all my skeins.. argh such a pain.

amber said...

@ Anonymous - Your mom is very lucky! When I was on vacation 2 of the yarn stores I visited had machines to wind skeins into balls for customers, but the local yarn stores in my area don't. I suspect it's because they're in very small store spaces, and wouldn't know where to put the machines.

@ Alexandra Cohen - it does look pretty neat doesn't it? I haven't seen them in stores around here either.

Unknown said...

If you don't want to spend a lot of money on a swift, there are other, cheaper alternatives. One of the coolest solutions I saw was this Tinker Toy swift. I, for one, have awesome friends, so I just got a buddy of mine to make me a swift out of pieces of scrap wood he had lying around. It's definitely made my life a lot easier. You can see it in action here.

Anonymous said...

I suggest getting the ball winder. It's not expensive, and you can use the skein well enough once you have it unwound and flat--you don't really need a swift (I suspect those are more useful if you're not hand-cranking the winder). I've had more trouble with some center-pull balls. I do find winding a ball of yarn to be rather relaxing--but then again, I also find untangling the mess that the yarn was previously in to be relaxing too.