Guide: Splitting Yarn

July 07, 2017

Splitting yarn is no big deal, if it is just a minor piece. However, one day you might need to split more and need to know, how to avoid a big messy tangled ball of yarn.

Splitting Yarn - tools

Some DIY pages have omitted a few details about splitting yarn. I've added these points to this guide.

Most importantly:
  1. For heavy yarn, time is not a problem. It takes HOURS, if you have a thin yarn. Be prepared to work on this for days or weeks. I recommend TV along with the project.
  2. After you have split the original yarn, you might ALSO need to re-twist the two small yarn parts, before you can make two new yarn balls.

Basic Splitting Technique

Your yarn needs to support this process. It needs to be plied yarn, made out of several strands. This method doesn't work with un-spun yarn and if it is very, very long haired. If you need thousands of meters (or feet) it might also not be worth the effort.


  1. Split your yarn at the end.
  2. Roll each part on a paper roll or likewise. I recommend the roll to be at least 30cm (12inch) long, as it helps you separate the strings. I taped mine on, so they stayed put.
  3. Start rolling the paper roll, while splitting the yarn. I used my thumbs as barriers, so the yarn wound up at each end of the roll.
  4. When you feel the strings are getting too twisted for you to continue, then release a fitting length of yarn from the yarn ball and secure it with a hair clip or a clothespin.
  5. Lift the paper roll up and let the original yarn ball hang down and spin until it slows down. Then stop it. (Let it hang a little more, to se if it really is done).
Repeat 3-5 till you are satisfied with the amount of yarn, you have split.

Notice how #5 works wonders for your leg muscles, if you use a chair or stool to stand on :)

Tips 'n Time-Savers

Tips, I haven't seen mentioned anywhere else:
  • Seam RipperIf you get an unwanted yarn fiber ring around the two strings you pull apart, use a seam ripper. (This yarn fiber ring is similar to the one you can meet, when frogging.)
  • Try to split some of the yarn before you let the original yarn ball spin. It will save you time.
  • Weigh your parts before you start. The paper roll as well as the original yarn ball. Then you can always figure out, how many meters/yards you have split.
  • When you spin the yarn balls - my advice is - that you stop them, when their spinning becomes slower. They might be close to done, but are just caught by the spinning. It's another time-saver.

No Clothespins?

I've seen others put the original yarn ball in a plastic bag and secure it with a rubber band. If you can get the tension right, then the yarn doesn't pull itself out, but you are still able to pull out the amount you want. Be aware though, that you might still need hair clips for winding up the two new yarn balls (see below).

Rolling Up Two New Yarn Balls

The yarn, you have wound, might curl and become twisted. When yarn is made of several strands, each of the individuel strands can be spun for a better balanced plied yarn. You can un-curl the yarn while making new balls. It is pretty much the opposite of, what you just did.

Start by releasing a little yarn from the paper roll and let it rotate til it slows down. Stop it and let it hang a little to se if it really is done rotating. Roll up small balls and use hair clips or clothespin to secure the yarn. Turn the paper roll to release more yarn and let the balls rotate.

Don't pull the yarn too much, when you make the balls. Let it stay airy and soft.

Splitting yarn - recreating yarn balls
Ignore the scissor unless you need to make yarn balls of a certain size.



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