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How to Crochet with Splitty Yarn

How to crochet with splitty yarn - article by The Crafty Therapist
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Splitty yarn… arrrgh isn’t it a right royal pain in the hook?!!!

I know it’s not just me that keeps finding yarn that pushes me beyond my sanity because of the constant splitting. Seriously it’s a nightmare and it kills the joy of crocheting (or knitting) super fast!

Why do I keep finding yarn like this? In a nutshell, because I prefer to work with eco-friendly yarns. Most are made with recycled fibres or made from more unusual plant fibres, and, as I’m discovering more and more, these tend to be rustic, or quite loosely spun yarns. When yarns are loosely spun the strands separate easily when you are working. Just look at how those strands have separated in the sample below (a recycled cotton yarn)!

How to crochet with splitty yarns - article by The Crafty Therapist

But splitting isn’t just an issue with eco yarns, it’s a very common issue with many different types of yarns. But I’m a firm believer in “where there’s a will there’s a way” okay, okay, so I’m stubborn and wouldn’t let this beat me!

My frustrating splitty encounters, amidst much cursing, a huge amount of frogging and reworking, have taught me a lot about how to tame splitty yarn and get it to work out really well. So if you have some splitty yarn sitting on the naughty step and want to know how to get the best from it, do read on.

There are many amazingly beautiful yarns that are worthy of a place in every stash, even if they do tend to be splitty.

Initial research pulled up references to the type of spin a yarn has (S or Z spun). Most yarn is S spun and this is thought to work better for knitting whereas Z spun is better for crochet.

I haven’t ever tried Z spun so can’t comment if it is better or not. I’d have to find an eco-friendly Z spun yarn which would present quite a challenge. But whether it actually helps or not isn’t really going to be any use regarding working with the splitty yarn in your stash!

The fact is, we Crocheters largely use the same yarn knitters do. And plenty of knitters complain of the same splitty frustrations.

As an obsessive Crocheter I am hell bent on succeeding and finishing what I started and I hate waste. And as a Designer I do not want to create stress, and I definitely don’t want to write patterns that people get stressed out over, all because of the yarn!

So, I googled, as we do, and… well… I was disappointed by the lack of any useful information!

I really didn’t find much help except change how you crochet and use different yarn!!!!

That’s no help at all when you have splitty yarn that you want to use. Yarn costs a bleeping fortune and sometimes we LOVE our yarns… more than … well… people! Ha, you know it’s true! So finding a solution to this annoying problem was an essential thing to do both for myself and to help you, my fellow crochet loving friends.

How to crochet with splitty yarns - article by The Crafty Therapist
3 different recycled cottons in my stash

So after much experimenting, I promise it’s really no biggy to work with splitty yarn. And what’s more, you might discover incredible qualities in your yarns that you had no idea were possible (eg. amazing stitch definition, beautiful sheen, even gorgeous drape)

Are you ready to go get that splity offender out of timeout?

Here are my 10 top tips for successfully working with splitty yarn:

Use a bigger crochet hook

Honestly this actually makes a massive difference. Even jumping up half a hook size can save your sanity, swatch carefully and you can make the smaller size down on a project where gauge matters. When it doesn’t matter, just jump up until you’re happy. I promise it will save your sanity!

Slow down & Loosen up

Working a little slower than you normally do is sometimes all that’s needed to cope with minor splittiness. Working with a looser tension will also make a huge difference.

Use a smoother crochet hook

No rough bits or little dents! There is so much difference in hook quality and consider wear and tear on your trusty old favs too. If yarn is catching, it’s time to take a close look at the hook, try smoothing it with fine sandpaper or consider replacing it.

Our crochet hooks are vital tools of our trade, they are worth some investment. But they are a very personal choice. I personally love Clover Soft Touch (I have a set with 2.5mm to 6mm I could not be without). And try as I might, because they’re utterly gorgeous, Furls just don’t work with my teeny wee hands. I guess we all like what we like. But honestly smoothness really matters when it comes to working successfully with splitty yarns

Work crochet stitches in spaces

Stitches that work in the space between stitches instead of into the top of stitches, are much less of a problem for splitty yarn. Hello Granny stitch, V stitch, V stitch shell, Mesh stitch, Moss stitch, Split Shell stitches, and any others like this you can find! The worst bit will just be the starting chain and foundation row/round and you’ll fly through the rest, not a splitty issue in sight!

Use shorter crochet stitches

Avoid stitches where there are lots of loops on the hook and longer stitches like Treble Crochet (UK double treble) and above. Bobble stitches are a no-no, they will drive you crazy! Stay away from the likes of Bullion stitch if you want to stay sane working with splitty yarn!

Choose simple patterns

Choose an easy pattern with a simple stitch repeat, ideally using the stitches I’ve mentioned, or similar stitches. As a general rule, if you can work it up watching Netflix, without having to look much at your work, it might just be the perfect pattern for splitty yarn.

Wet the yarn

Just dampen it a little and it will hold the threads together better as you work. It’s a good solution for a small project but may not be so helpful for a bigger one that takes longer to make.

Use yarn under method

Instead of yarn over, use the yarn under method, if your brain can adapt. This stops the yarn from untwisting even more. I personally struggle with this method, my middle-aged brain just doesn’t want to switch. But if you want to give it a try, it’s good to know right?

Pamper your hands

If your skin is rough and cracked, splitty yarn is impossible to use. It will constantly catch and can hurt if you have split skin. Looking after your hands is good for all of us, but especially when you work with your hands! Moisturise, moisturise, moisturise! Get a manicure and blissful hand massage every now and then. If your skin is always a problem, you could wear thin gloves.

As a child, I remember my mum being driven bonkers by yarn catching the rough skin on her hands when she was knitting. It wasn’t particularly splitty yarn, standard cheap acrylic but she had very hardworking hands, always in the garden and tending to her goats and hens. But she loved to knit too. She resorted to wearing gloves!

Take a break

If stress levels are high, sometimes taking a break from the project (or your environment), can make all the difference. Many a time I’ve got so frustrated with a project that I pulled it down in temper over a minor issue! Yes, sometimes it has been the yarn winding me up, before I worked out these methods to handle it! My best piece of advice when you are stressed (over anything) is take some time out, get away from the offending thing.

It really is truly amazing how things change after taking a wee break. I have many a project that’s been on the naughty step for various reasons! But most get finished with that wonderful completion satisfaction after just a wee break. I’d be lying if I didn’t confess to having some still on long-term vacations though!

I hope you find these ideas helpful in working with splitty yarn and that it may encourage you to use that yarn that you hid at the bottom of your stash because you couldn’t face the splitting!

I’d love to hear how you get on!

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For more yarnie fun check out my Eco Yarn Reviews, the Definitive (ish) List of Recycled Yarn and subscribe to my email list for news of new posts, patterns, and exclusive subscriber offers.

Thank you x

1 thought on “How to Crochet with Splitty Yarn”

  1. I have used several strands together.
    If the splitting was due to age I’d use three strands and crochet in the round and use for rugs or pet covers.I have also gone down a couple hook sizes and made pot holders trivetts
    Note for dry cracked hands fingers no matter the cause the following will work.Use a deep hand treatment mixed with aspercreame ,cover with gloves and crochet away.For what it’s worth sometimes hand pain starts in the shoulder elbow.
    I changed how I held my shoulder and noticed my hands hurt far less if at all.
    Usually it’s because the shoulder is held to far forward especially the tensioning hand.

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