I visited a local knitting/crochet group this past Monday. One generous member helped me unwind a giant mess of yarn (yarn barf) that I had. Here are some tips on how to handle the mess when you yarn barfs.
work it from both ends – There are two ends to a ball of yarn. The goal of undoing your yarn barf is to wind up with a perfectly wound ball of yarn with only two ends (no cutting!). You need to work each of them. Find the two ends from your yarn barf. If you can only find one, start there, and look for the other as you go.
follow it home – Pick up an end and follow it. Follow it around twists, under loops, over knots. Wind it up as you go, working through the twists and loops of the yarn barf.
shake it loose – As you unwind you may notice your yarn barf tightening up. Pick up a section and shake the whole yarn barf. This will loosen up the barf and make it easier to unwind.
4 hands are better than 2 – A friend can hold your end still while you work the yarn loose around it.
reign it in – Once you have about 18 inches worked loose, wind it up. The last thing you want is for all the yarn you unwound to become tangled.
If you work from two ends you’ll wind up with two wound balls of yarn that are connected to each other. Now you can attach one end to your yarn ball winder and wind the whole thing up easily and quickly. Or, if working on small projects, just cut the connecting piece of yarn and you’ll have two smaller, easy to transport skeins.