Yuck! It’s yarn yak

OK, all you sock knitters out there understand this problem. You have a lovely yarn cake all wound up and you’re gonna knit up some socks. Now, I like to knit both socks at once – it eliminates the risk of ‘second sock syndrome’  and I think it keeps my head in the game a bit better.

To accomplish this, my current method is to knit from both ends of the yarn cake – the one on the outside and the one inside. So, I pull them both out, cast on and away I go. This is just my method. It’s the one that works for me. Every knitter should find their own method.

What do you do, however, when the center pull suddenly spits out a chunk of tangled yarn?

I call it yarn yak. It looks like this:

yarn yak


Let me provide a little graphical description:

yarn yak demonstrated

That ugly ball of yarn yak is a tangle. Now, I haven’t quite figured out what causes this. Some knitters have told me I’m winding my cakes too tight, but they never offered information on how not to get tight cakes.  ( 🙂 )

Usually, I try to stay calm, do a little untangling and keep knitting, but yarn yak has the slow effect of pissing me off. It makes me want to put the project down and leave it. This is not good for getting a finished object, so again, I return to my breathing and try to stay calm and I keep untangling and knitting.

Sometimes, the breathing thing doesn’t work, however, and this time I got too frustrated. I was spending all my time de-tangling and working on getting enough yarn to knit another row. It just wasn’t worth it.

So I cut the yak out of the picture and put the two ends together and began knitting along happily again.

yarn yak removed

See – one lively skein of yarn in the middle, supplying the yarn I need to keep knitting both socks.

That yak is sitting all by its lonesome out of trouble.

yarn yak separated

If it were a child, it would be in timeout. In this instance, it’s going in the leftover jar.

yarn ball leftovers

And I feel so much better. These socks are going to be done lickety-split!

fourteenergirl Written by:

A mother, sister, wife, and daughter who writes, knits, hikes, and practices yoga on the west coast. Loves a zippy chardonnay or a tart margarita!


  1. runnerterry
    August 29, 2011

    Found your website because I was trying to figure out how to wind my yarn cake so I could knit from both ends. Seems there is no foolproof way to do this. Then I perused your topics and really enjoyed the reading. I grew up in Colo, have knit since I was 9 and run now instead of hike and ski but have also done a few fourteeners. Loved your website, I will let you know if I discover a way not to have yarn yak.

  2. September 1, 2011

    Hey, a Colorado native – those are rare you know. Yes, I often get yarn yak – even when it’s wound at the shop, but let me know if you figure out the trick. I’d love to know!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *