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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  1. Great information! I was wanting to do this but had no clue on how not to end up with a mess. Thank you for taking the time to explain each step clearly.

    1. You are most welcome. I try to avoid doing it, but actually needed it again the other day to make super thin yarn for repairing wool yarn socks. Happy to help :)

  2. Berry helpful and informative. My issue is I don't have any paper that would be strong enough, t would just collapse, so thought maybe an paper towel roll could work as a good substitute also you can cut slits at the ends to place the end of the split yarn in and not have to worry about finding tape like me lol. I'm also not sure if putting the yarn in a bag and slightly binding the opening would work for yarn that has already been rolled into a ball, I do this with all my arm to keep things a little more tidy. If there are any alternatives to not using the bag I would love to hear them, the yarn I'm trying to split is Premier Puzzle yarn brand, I love the softness of it but in its original state its too bulky for some things like summer garments or a lighter sweater, I made a cardigan out of the brand of yarn once and its beautiful and so soft only issue is its way too heavy so if you or someone could help me figure out a way to split the yarn withe the slight issues I'm facing I would be so grateful.

    1. Hi,

      Yes, you can use a paper towel roll. It is easy to cut shorter, if you find it being a little long.

      If you don't have clothes pins or a bag to put the initial yarn ball in, then you might have a rubber band you can wrap around it to secure the yarn end.

      As to my knowledge Premier Puzzle yarn is a yarn with a lovely character, but I believe it is spun by a bit uneven strands in variated colors, so I wonder if you would be happy about splitting it. If you are looking for something rustic and don't mind the different coloring, it might be perfect.

      Otherwise I would suggest you ask fellow crocheters and knitters around you for a similar and less heavy yarn - or you can check if there is something you like at

      I hope this answer helps you :)

      Heidi / StoneGnome


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