How to Retwist a Skein of Yarn

When it comes to hand-dyed yarn, seeing the whole colourway is absolutely crucial. But one question I get again and again is, “How do I twist my skein back up again so it looks like it did before?”

Twisting a skein is really very simple but it does take practice to make it look perfect.  Just like learning to knit, twisting up a skein feels downright awkward the first time (or two… or three..) that you do it.  But keep at it and, before you know it, your fingers will develop a little muscle memory and you’ll be twisting up skeins like nobody’s business.

And, just like knitting, it’s a really hard thing to describe with words, so we’ve put together a quick video to show you how it’s done.  Before you watch it, though, here are a few pointers that might help the next time you feel like you’re twisting your yarn into a big knot instead of a pretty skein…

Tips for Retwisting a Skein of Yarn

  1. Put both hands in the skein and pull it good and tight before you start twisting.  Unless it’s something really delicate, like laceweight, it’s ok to give it a nice thwack.
  2. Make sure the tag or a choke-tie is at the center of the skein.  That comes in handy when you’re start folding the two ends together.
  3. Twist using one or two fingers and get it tight.  I always go until my fingers are just starting to complain a little, and then I know I’ve got the skein twisted tightly enough.
  4. When you catch the middle between your knees (or on your elbow, or whatever works), that extra tightness is what makes it twist back on itself.
  5. Once you’ve folded the one end over the other, you might find it still doesn’t look very neat.  If it’s bunching up, pull the twist manually along one side of the skein so the tension evens out.
  6. If you have a few stragglers or choke-ties sticking out just a little, it’s ok to tuck them into the twist.

Want to see it in action? Here you go!

Oh, two other quick things…

  • On untwisting skeins: Just remember, if you don’t (yet) own the skein, it’s always polite to ask before you untwist.
  • On twisting skeins: One thing I learned from answering this question over the years is how many people think our skeins are twisted by machine.  Nope, they are hand-twisted!  Every. single. one.  When you we say our yarn is hand-dyed, it really is all by hand!