Gordian knot
July 28, 2008 7:24 AM   Subscribe

My daughter has a knot in a very fine chain necklace. Other than in investing in a magnifying glass and fine set of tweezers, is there a simple way of untangling this?

It's probably hard to make out in the photograph but it's just one loop. I've had a go with some tweezers but the forces that comprise a knot in such a fine and (ultimately complicated) construction frustrate any attempt to extricate a single strand. Which way is the best way of attacking it? Left, right or middle?
posted by tellurian to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (14 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I've had luck putting a chain like this on a plate in a little pool of vegetable oil. Then I swirl the knotted portion around with a pin. The oil lubricates the chain, and the knot will loosen up enough to be undone.
posted by kimdog at 7:35 AM on July 28, 2008 [3 favorites]

A jeweler would probably love to help you for little or no charge. They have the equipment, and they like looking at little shiny things enough that they've made it their career. Call around; you might find someone who'd love the (admittedly small) challenge.
posted by amtho at 7:36 AM on July 28, 2008

I've had really good luck with a pin. I just stick it in the middle and gently work it around to loosen the knot. I do like kimdog's suggestion of oil!
posted by ms.v. at 7:45 AM on July 28, 2008 [1 favorite]

It is hard to describe, but using a pin or sewing needle to try to work into the knot and carefully loosen it enough to work it apart is what I do. I've had good luck with chains even finer than this one. Kimdog's idea would probably work.
posted by gudrun at 7:47 AM on July 28, 2008

You might try putting it in the freezer, if it's really tight shrinking the chain by cooling it might help.
posted by StickyCarpet at 8:08 AM on July 28, 2008 [1 favorite]

I've read that sprinkling a bit of talc powder can help untangle a knot in a necklace. Then use the pin/needle suggestion.

But if the necklace is delicate, I'd just head to a jeweler. I doubt it would cost much, and they probably could fix it with ease.
posted by cherie72 at 8:10 AM on July 28, 2008

Seconding the needle method, I've had great success with that. Alternatively, if you have a fisherman in the family, ask them - they regularly untangle knots in fine thread, this would be a doddle.
posted by ceri richard at 8:11 AM on July 28, 2008

Sometimes the knot can be loosened by holding the knot and rolling it around between your fingers. Let it fall gently onto a table, then try pulling it apart.
posted by Shebear at 8:19 AM on July 28, 2008 [1 favorite]

two pins or needles, flat surface, gently hold and pull the knot apart. Have not use oil. This usually works for me when spouse throws the chain in the box tangled up.
posted by Agamenticus at 8:58 AM on July 28, 2008

Any image link that doesn't require me to have a Yahoo ID?
posted by alby at 9:20 AM on July 28, 2008

A lot of times, you can jar the knot loose by jiggling it in your hand or tapping lightly on a hard surface. Just moving it around can begin to release the knot. I've also found running cold water over it while moving it around can help. If that doesn't work, put a pin through the knot, and wiggle it around gently.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 10:13 AM on July 28, 2008

I also recommend the two needles/pins on a hard flat surface method. Just be patient and gentle.
posted by 14580 at 6:16 PM on July 28, 2008

Pin or toothpick to peck away at the center of the knot - I've used this method lots on fine, delicate chains and it works every time.
posted by ersatzkat at 6:53 PM on July 28, 2008

(I discovered a knack for this as a kid) That is a fat knot for not being able to slip it loose, you just kind of tease at it while continually rolling it between your finger tips. But sometimes they are jammed in pretty hard. Go through the links in the knot one by one, straighten out what you can. It's only when they twist up that it'll lock into place. It'll give you more rope to work the culprit/s free or loosen it off further. (No tweezers you'll crush the links).
posted by mu~ha~ha~ha~har at 1:49 AM on July 30, 2008

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