What is it exactly about a tangled mass of yarn that makes everyone itch to get their hands on it and start untangling?
Well, maybe not everyone. Usually, the person whose yarn it is has had it up to wherever with the tangles.
But bring the sorry mess into a yarn shop, and see what happens! For those of us for whom fiber is practically a religion, turning someone else’s wadded-up gob of yarn into a beautiful ball is apparently some sort of a sacrament, and we can hardly keep our grubby little hands off it.
Or am I just in a weird minority?
I don’t think so. And it’s not just yarn that does it either.
I remember one Xmas, before DH and I were married, when his parents were visiting him/us, in Texas. One evening, just before the holiday itself, I found the professionally-decorated Xmas tree from my apartment’s office out by the dumpster, with about a billion strings of lights still on it.
Well, what would you have done?
What I did was to pull all the lights off the tree and then I brought this garbage bag full of tangled-up lights over to his apartment, thinking I would sit quietly by myself in a corner and work on untangling them. Not so! You’d have thought I’d brought over an early present. We all worked on them until we had every strand untangled. There must have been over a dozen strands, and DH and I still have some of them.
As for yarn, though, the #1 rule of untangling is this: don’t pull tightly on a strand of yarn! The yarn is probably not really in “knots” per se, it’s in loops that are interlocked — kind of like knitting. You want to loosen those loops up so they can “unravel”. It’s a little hard to explain in words, but you want to be pulling the mass apart, and separating the loops, so they can untangle.
The #2 rule of untangling is: don’t start taking the untangled part (i.e. the little ball you’ve gotten started off one end of the mess) and start taking it through other loops, until you’re sure this is the only way to finish the job. Once you start taking that end through other loops, that’s pretty much what you’re going to have to keep doing. Kind of like when you bind off, and pull that yarn end through the last stitch — this technique puts a stop to the easy “unraveling” of the tangles.