A Tangled Mess

Jan 12, 2017 by

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Every knitter and crocheter has at least one of these.


I have two scrap yarn bins, one for small remnants and another for larger partial skeins. I’ve used leftovers to make coasters and cup cozies, and as ribbon for tying around presents or dressing up bottles of my homemade essential oils room spray. While hanging Christmas ornaments this year, I didn’t even bother looking for the box of hooks, I just ran downstairs and snipped pieces of red yarn.

Last weekend, a New Year closet purge included going through my yarn drawers for the first time in… well, ever.

You might notice that my scraps had become a bit of a mess. See the tidy balls? Those balls prevent the mess. Leftover yarn may have many fun uses, but if you don’t stay on top of it you end up with this. On Sunday afternoon I referred to it as my metaphor for life.

A year and a half ago, a sweet pastor friend listened as I shared the mess that was going on in my head. She compared my thoughts and feelings to a tangled ball of yarn that needed to be unwound and have each knot worked out. At that time she didn’t know I was a knitter/crocheter, so I accepted her comparison as coming directly from the Lord. Since then I’ve given her many updates on my progress in “untangling the ball.”

I plan to send her this blog post.

Many knitters and crocheters wrap every skein or packaged “ball” into a neat, round ball before starting a project, knowing it’s a lot easier to deal with a knot when we don’t have half a scarf dangling from our hook or needle. Balls fit neatly into tote bags, unwind effortlessly as we work, and look cool in pictures. Winding a skein into a ball can be rather relaxing once we get into the rhythm of it, almost hypnotic. The only thing I don’t like about balled yarn is that if it rolls off the couch, there’s no telling how far it might travel. And it always falls off the couch.

As I faced the daunting rainy Sunday afternoon task of untangling the consequences of so rarely balling my yarn, I thought about my wise friend. I considered the many knots in my head that are still getting worked out, and those that have been wrapped into much more manageable balls.

Yarn really was the perfect word picture for “dealing with stuff.”

[bctt tweet=”Yarn really was the perfect word picture for “dealing with stuff.””]

As soon as I opened the drawers I knew why I’d put this chore off again and again. It was going to take a long time, and I’m not even what some would consider a certified yarn addict! (I don’t have enough room or income to be addicted to anything.)

One mass took me almost two hours to untangle. It had gone in so many directions that I had to take it to Nathan and ask if I had one color in my hand or three.

He confirmed the worst: “It’s all one color. I think. What are you doing with that anyway?”

I knew what some of my friends would say (non-knitters who just don’t understand): “I would toss that in the trash.” Maybe they would, but I could not. I also refused to give into the temptation to get out the scissors. God had something to teach me through this rat’s nest in particular.

I found the end (one of them anyway), sat on the floor against my bed, got to work, and spent the next two hours hoping I wouldn’t forget the life applications that came with every step of progress.

A gentle touch is always best. Yanking only tightened knots and created new ones. The exact opposite happened when I let my fingers find each tangled part and work it out slowly. Every once in a while I felt my chest tighten and my hands want to hurl what I had left across the room, but that would have undone the work I’d already accomplished, so in each moment of frustration I took a deep breath and tackled the next knot.

Some messes take longer than expected. I predicted that this one would take until lunchtime. Instead, it delayed lunch for over an hour, because I refused to quit until I’d finished.

[bctt tweet=”Some messes take longer than expected.”]

I really am a very determined woman. I refused to let something like yarn lick me!

Sometimes you lose your grip. The larger a ball of yarn gets, the more awkward it is to hold, especially if you’re still untangling knots. I kept dropping my ball. Each time I had to pick it up, re-wrap what had come undone, tighten my hold, and get to work again. I could apply that to so many things.

The hard work is always worth it. When I saw the final foot of string dangling from my fingers I had to restrain myself from screaming with joy (because that would’ve scared Nathan). Instead I presented my completely ball to my son with a satisfying, “Tada!!! I did it!”

“Whoa! Good job, Mom.” He gave me a hug.

“Thank you. What color is it by the way?”

“It’s red.”


I smiled. I took it to my room. I suddenly felt very tired.

After doing something hard, we need a break. How many times had a learned that?


If you’re willing to do the work, you end up with something useful. I now have a drawer full of yarn in various sizes, textures, and colors that I will ask Nathan to help me label at some point.

IMG_0397IMG_0400This mesh bag now hangs from the wall of my closet.

IMG_0403While I was at it I organized my stash as well.

[bctt tweet=”If you’re willing to do the work, you end up with something useful.”]

As you can see, I chose not to ball some of it, not because I got lazy, but because those bundles were okay for now. Why mess with what isn’t a mess?

I’m so thankful that I tackled what was a mess, in my yarn drawer and in life.

Thank you, Lord, for untangling our knots so they can become something useful, possibly even beautiful.

How has God done this for you?


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  1. Jean

    I can relate!!! Love your metaphors.

  2. Oh my heavens! I know this problem all too well, especially the urge to yank those knots. Yet in the perfect life metaphor for life, that just makes the problem worse and me more frustrated. Well said. 😉

    • Jeanette Hanscome

      Thank you! On Friday night I had to apply this lesson again when I balled the yarn that I’d bought with you. I hadn’t planned on it but found a knot early on and decided to take care of it right away.


  1. Just Throw It Away! | Jeanette Hanscome - […] myself untangling one of the partial skeins of leftover yarn that I blogged about in January (you can read…

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