Zen and the Art of Yarn Detangling

[To start, I took the title of this blog post from a really interesting philosophical novel I read a handful of years ago called Zen And The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig which I really liked and took away some helpful advice!]

I love yarn.


I do.


I love yarn SO much.


But I really really can’t handle unknotting tangles as they come up sometimes.


Which is a problem because it happens more often than you ever want it to, am I right? Which brings me to my post today about why I learned to appreciate something as awful as yarn detangling.

Ugh, gross *muffled swearing*

Growing up, I was always kind of a perfectionist (which was always in competition with my tendency toward procrastination, but…anyhow). I assumed that I was good at everything and definitely did NOT appreciate it any time it came up that I was not, in fact, amazing at everything the first time around. Which is difficult sometimes, and it happens to everybody. But you couldn’t tell that to Kid Me. I would get super irritable and annoyed and start shutting down.

Not the healthiest reaction, I’ll be the first to admit.

But, with time, you learn to accept the things that you are not good at.
You do that in two ways.
1) Accepting that maybe it’s not your thing and leaving it, maybe consider setting it on fire

Image result for picture of fire
Bye inconveniences!


2) Understanding that maybe you can’t do it YET

The first is the easiest to do, whereas the second takes a lot of time and PATIENCE. Patience is in short supply for the young, but if you don’t really practice at it and challenge yourself, you become an impatient adult and that is way less endearing. When you decide to understand instead of getting unproductively mad, you learn to take the time to see a problem to its proper end, and develop the patience to problem-solve in a more efficient manner.

Image result for picture of a math book
The one and only time I ever threw a book it was a math book. I regretted it immediately and it was an unproductive step to doing my homework (even if I felt temporarily better). Sorry, Algebra.

Which is where my issue (and probably yours) with tangled yarn comes in. It is a fantastic lesson in patience. It goes hand in hand with the craft that you do, whether it’s knitting, loom knitting, crochet, weaving, amigurumi, or anything that you do with yarn.

Image result for picture of yarn ball slippers
Sure, this counts too!

There are going to be snags, but you have to get through them to get to work on your real project. Yarn detangling is a minor issue, or setback, along the way to the thing that you really want: to get started on your “real” work. Much like in the same way that people think about the things they want to do, but get sidelined by small things that are still important and necessary steps…even if they’re annoying and you don’t like them.

“I just want to be a doctor and help people, this pharmacology class is super boring”



Things that are trying or difficult make our goals seem just that much further out of our reach, but if we start looking at them as steps toward our success of creating a cute hat or a delightful blanket that we’re excited about, then it makes the tedious task a little bit more manageable. Sometimes when I get mad at my yarn tangles and start tugging harder and worsen the knot, I kick myself for not simply taking the time and causing myself the issue of working that much longer at getting them undone. I especially had a difficult time in June when I got these fabulous hanks of Malabrigo yarn and needed to put them into balls for easier crafting.

But I had never worked with winding hanks of yarn and didn’t look up the best method and spent roughly 4-6 hours of my weekend simply trying to work my way through the mess that I had made. That was time that I could’ve spent working on the top I had planned, which was really frustrating. Because new projects are AMAZING! However, because I valued the yarn, from my friend Marina from Bad Sissy Crochet, and had a nice project in mind that I was excited about, I lightly clenched my jaw (because I recently got my braces removed and wanted to be careful with my new smile, obviously) and quietly swore between my teeth.

I’m glad to say, though, that having put on a nice tv show in the background (I’m a huge fan of Impractical Jokers myself) and getting into the groove of unwinding the hank of yarn, I didn’t mind the task as much as I thought I would have. There is a calming sense about it, just breathing and feeling the tracking in the thread, much like when you get down to the nitty-gritty of your “real” project. I learned something about differences in types of yarn winding, experienced a new shape in yarn (since I was more accustomed to skeins and balls), and finally got to setup the groundwork for a new project!


I can work on my top now knowing that I put in a lot of effort and care to make sure that the work-in-progress goes smoothly!

So, all in all, I learned it’s much more productive to understand that things don’t always work out the way you want them to the first time and you’ll have to make your way through small obstacles (and maybe some big ones) to get to where you want to be. It takes time and patience to refocus and re-center yourself on getting things done, but is worth it in the end.


~ Gilliane



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As always, I’d love to see any of your finished projects! How have you gotten through your own issues with yarn detangling? Please share with me on Facebook and Instagram!



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