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How to Keep Yarn From Tangling

The smartest tips & tricks from your fellow crocheters!

Updated April 26, 2018
How to Keep Yarn From Tangling

There are some issues that even the most seasoned and experienced crocheters struggle with from time to time. If you've ever wondered how to keep yarn from tangling, we've collected tips and tricks from your fellow crocheters that will save you so much time and headache next time you pick up your crochet hooks. 

Working with multiple skeins of yarn at once can become very messy and frustrating, and all too often our yarn gets tangled up, both with itself and with other colors. Sometimes even simple crochet patterns can take a while to work up – not because the pattern is long or even difficult to read, but because your many skeins of yarn are tangled.

With these tips, you'll have plenty of yarn storage ideas, DIY yarn organizers, and clever solutions for some common problems you'll run into while working with your yarn. 

Rolling Your Skeins Into Yarn Balls

You might find that leaving yarn in its skein packaging is a little too unruly and hard to work with. These readers choose to re-package their skeins into a shape that is tighter and more compact so that yarn will not tangle as easily:

• "I take the time to wind my skeins in to balls. This seems to make it SO much easier to work with than leaving it in the skein." – Nicki

• "If the yarn is 'self-wound' I leave it alone, otherwise I roll it into a ball before I start. " – Candy Ferrall

• "I wind my yarn into balls and I sit in bed, hopefully without my cat, and put one ball of yarn on each side of my hips." – Paula Corman

• "I wrap yarn skeins into balls and either put it beside me or in my crochet bag. " – Juanell Dunlap

Rolling Your Skeins Into Yarn Balls

Pulling Yarn: Center Pull vs. Outside Pull

There is debate amongst crocheters over the best way to pull yarn from a skein. While there may not be a "wrong" way to do this, many have strong opinions one way or the other. While some crocheters choose to pull from the end of the yarn that sits in the center of the skein, others choose to pull from the piece wrapped around the outside. See which side our readers come down on: 

• "I never use center pull balls as they eventually collapse and tangle. Keeping my yarn in a small project bag, bowl, box, or even plastic bag keeps it safe and tangle free." – LizzieK8

• "I always find the yarn end that is inside the skein and pull it to start my row. As the yarn is used it slides easy out of the skein." – Mary L

• "Currently I am working on an afghan with big needles using 4 yarns at one time. I used to spend more time untangling than knitting! I tried a variety of tips but what works best for me is to use the yarn from the OUTSIDE of the machine-wound ball rather than from the center pull. It seems to twist less." – Darleen Worm

• "Once my center pull skeins get to a certain ‘thinness’ I start from the outer end and wrap the rest into a ball and place it in a small sandwich bag with all but a small portion zipped closed." – Terri L

How To Wind a Center-Pull Ball of Yarn By Hand

Threading Your Yarn Through a Container

Our readers definitely get creative when finding ways to keep yarn from tangling. Many crocheters find that taking a container and threading yarn through a poked hole is an easy way to separate it from the outside environment. You won't have to constantly keep an eye on the yarn skein and will have a clear visual marker of the yarn you're pulling. Check out our readers' tricks:

• "I use a recycled oatmeal container (but you could use just about anything with a plastic lid), poke a hole through the lid, feed the yarn through and place the yarn in the container with the lid on top. This keeps my yarn tangle free and you can use more that one container if you are using more than one color." – Julie

• "I punch a small hole in one side of a Ziploc bag to pull the yarn through before I cast on. I put the cake or ball of yarn inside the bag pulling the end through the hole and closed the Ziploc bag with the ball of the yarn inside it. The only yarn that is outside the bag is the yarn that is attached to my needles." – Knittingdancer on Ravelry

• "I also took a small clear make up case from Walmart and punched holes in the sides. I use it when I do two socks at once. One cake feeds out the front the other from the back or you can use the inside and outside of the same cake this way. Works great." – Sue

• "I take an empty plastic coffee can and cut a quarter size hole and tape the edges, place the yarn inside and it pulls just fine with no tangling." – Lynn Sanders

Threading Your Yarn Through a Container

Crocheting With Multiple Strands of Yarn or Colors

It might get really tricky when you're trying to crochet with multiple strands of yarn or mixing colors. Since you're adding more skeins of yarn to the mix, it's easy to see how it might be hard to keep your yarn neat and organized. These reader suggestions will ensure that your multi-strand crochet projects don't end up in a tangled mess: 

• "I put two colors in a large Ziploc bag and have each side open and zip it in the middle." – Chevas Hefflinger

• "If I’m working with a pattern that calls for small bobbins of several colors, I wind each color of yarn around a spring type clothespin and when I finish with that particular color, I put the working end of the yarn in the mouth of the clothespin to hold it so it won’t unwind while I’m working with another color." – Char55

• "I place each yarn in a round quart-size plastic container and separate the containers physically around me on the floor about 1 1/2 to 2 feet apart from each other – one each left and right and two in front but still a good distance away from each other." – Darleen Worm

• "I use extra-large bobbins and a Russian Join. This way I avoid knots and lumps in the project. This is particularly convenient when I am knitting Fair Isle or any other multi-color projects. " – Lenore

• "For color work in grafts I use yarn bobbins for each color and let them swing in the back until needed." – Linda Stewart

Crocheting With Multiple Strands of Yarn or Colors

Yarn Storage Ideas & DIY Yarn Organizers

There are so many crafty yarn storage ideas that will help you keep your yarn neat and organized, and you don't have to spend a lot of money to make them. These DIY yarn organizers are reader-tested and approved and provide you with so many options beyond your typical yarn bowl. You won't believe how unique and creative they are and what items your fellow readers upcycle into smart organizers. Steal one (or all!) of these ideas:

• "Keeping my yarn in a small project bag, bowl, box, or even plastic bag keeps it safe and tangle free." – Ritainalaska

• "After winding my yarn into balls, I place them in decorative bowls I have found at the local thrift store. The bowls are usually a deeper 'vase' type so the yarn cannot jump out or roll around too much." – Cynthia Wilbanks

• "I place each yarn in a round quart-size plastic container and separate the containers physically around me on the floor about 1 1/2 to 2 feet apart from each other – one each left and right and two in front but still a good distance away from each other." – Darleen Worm

• "I put the yarn in a bag that allows it to roll or turn as needed for me to pull (if I’m not using a center-pull yarn) but doesn’t allow enough movement to become tangled." – Carmen

• "I knit with my yarn in a container next to my chair. I haven’t had a problem with my yarn tangling doing this. It also gives me a place to store the needles, pattern, notions, etc. that I need for that particular project." – Candy Ferrall

• "I use a small laundry basket with holes and run the yarn through separate holes." – Rae Cicelske

• "I take empty paper towel rolls and wind my yarn around the roll." – Carolyn

• "I keep it in Ziploc bags. It’s a great method because you can use different size bags for different size balls of yarn." – Shannon

• "I keep my yarn in a 2L pop bottle I’ve cut in half. I put the yarn inside, thread my wool through the top opening, then squeeze the bottom half of the bottle to put it back together. This also keeps my yarn from gathering bits of dust or my long hair." – Christine

• "To keep the skein from rolling around, I insert it into the plastic bag that my morning paper arrives in or a bag that accommodates the skein size." – Mary L

• "I have used empty 'wet wipe' holders. My skein will fit in it and not tangle. I just pull the yarn out through the top." – Susan Havens

• "I have used a number of different things. I’ve used 2-litre soda bottles, 1/2-gallon plastic milk or juice containers, and I’ve used Ziploc bags. I use Ziploc most often, especially for travel projects." – Bernice

• "I use one of those pretty cardboard wine carriers that you can find. I put a hole in the tube’s cap so the yarn can come through easily. It even has a rope handle on it so you can carry it where ever you go. Works for any size yarn." – Carol

• "I found a large vase someone didn’t want and it’s big enough and tall enough to either put a pull-through skein in or a ball of yarn and it just rolls around in the vase…(the balls not the skein:)!" – Ann Kinderknecht

• "I ‘borrowed’ this tip from another crocheter. I use the plastic sleeves that are used to keep wine bottles from banging together. They expand to fit a full skein and contract as I pull the yarn through the center." – Smfsprout

• "I use a tall narrow bag and pull the inside yarn. Works great. But here is an idea I haven’t tried that came from a friend who pulls the outside end: slide the yarn over a paper towel roll." – Sherry

Yarn Storage Ideas & DIY Yarn Organizers

Crochet Basket Patterns

Now that you know about the benefits of using baskets or bags to keep your yarn neat and tidy, here are a few options to get you started. With these easy crochet basket patterns, you can keep your yarn organized and at the ready for your next big project. 

Small Project Yarn Basket

Do you have any other tricks for keeping yarn tangle-free?

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