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  • Kat Waskett

How to Untwist Embroidery Thread

One of the many mysteries of cross stitch is why embroidery thread loves to twist around on itself as you stitch.

It's likely that no matter how carefully you cross stitch, you will unconsciously just turn the needle slightly with each stitch you make and eventually the thread gets visibly twisted. And yes, this will absolutely happen even if you are using a single strand of thread!

The problem with this is that your stitches won't look as neat when the thread is twisted, and the thread will also be far more prone to tangling and knotting.

So, if your thread wants to twist as you stitch then you just need a way to reverse this and untwist it, right?

I have 3 methods that you can use to coax that thread into untwisting, and a little bonus tip as well!

You can also find all the information in this article as a video if you would prefer to see the methods in action

Method #1 - The Spin

The first way to keep your threads untwisted is to spin your needle in your fingers. So, if you see the thread starting to twist a little, spin the needle in the appropriate direction so it twists back the other way and the threads are parallel to each other again. I don’t really use this method very often but know that some cross stitchers do like it.

Method #2 - The Dangle

For this method you simply let go of your needle, hold your fabric so the threaded needle is dangling downwards and the thread will spin and untwist itself.

This is a very easy and simple method, but I am always paranoid that my needle will fall off! I also find that the thread doesn’t always untwist as much as I’d like, so I rarely use this method.

Method #3 - The Slide

This is my 'go to' way to untwist my thread and it's also the most difficult to explain, so you might like to watch it on the video (ADD LINK, and use timestamp).

I push the needle right down to the end of the thread closest to the fabric and then smooth the thread between my finger and thumb several times until it’s completely untwisted and the threads are lying nicely parallel to each other.

I find that this gives me the best result in terms of untwisting the threads, so it's the one I use all the time.

There is a potential downside because if you do this multiple times on the same thread, then running the eye of the needle up and down the thread could make it more fluffy. This could have entirely the opposite effect of making your stitches look less neat, and being more prone to knotting, so that’s obviously not good. If you have a good needle this shouldn’t really be a problem, and if you do find this method 'fluffying' up your thread it could be a sign you need a new needle!

I don't usually find this to be an issue for me, but I only have to untwist once, or maybe twice at the most, for each piece of thread that I use.

Bonus tip!

If you try out these methods and still find that your thread twists and tangles more than you'd like, then you can try using a shorter length of thread. The longer you are stitching with a particular thread, the more likely it will be to get twisted at some point, and I know this because I like quite a long length of thread! So, cut your threads a bit shorter and see if that helps.

If knots and tangle are generally something that you find yourself getting frustrated with then check out my 5 tips to reduce knots and tangles in your cross stitch thread. There's some overlap with this article but also some other great tips that you can try.

Until next time, happy stitching!


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