Hand Wind a Ball of Yarn

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Introduction: Hand Wind a Ball of Yarn


This simple tutorial will show you how to wind a center-pull ball of yarn without any special equipment. 

I have several hanks of really beautiful yarn in my stash that I don't even think about using because I imagine having to take them to a yarn shop so they can be wound into balls on their nifty little swifts and winders.  And really, when am I going to do that?

So one day when I was home sick, I decided to crack out a few hanks I'd just purchased for a summer project (missed the boat on that one. . . ) and wind them up by hand. 

It's easy! And it's a nice project to do while you're home doing not much else and watching silly television online. 

The advantage of wrapping a center-pull yarn ball is that the yarn stays neat and won't get tangled.  Also, if you pull the working yarn from the center instead of the outside, the ball will stay put and not roll around as you unwind it!

Step 1: Prep Your Yarn


Some yarn comes already wound into center-pull balls.  Some comes twisted in hanks, like in the picture here. 

If you purchase this kind, take the paper off and open the yarn up into a big loop. (See picture 2).

Drape the loop of yarn over two chairs or the edge of a desk, or between the hands of a helpful friend.  This keeps the yarn from getting all tangled up while you're winding it. 

Step 2: Begin the Ball

You start winding from the center of the ball (obviously). 

Hold one free end in your hand and drape the long end around your thumb as shown in picture 1.

Make your hand into a gun, and wrap the yarn in a figure 8 around thumb and finger.

Continue in this method until you run out of room on your fingers!

Step 3: Wrap


Slide the stack of figure 8s off your finger and thumb and pinch together in the middle. 

Pinch the yarn stack between finger and thumb, keeping the starting end draped over your thumb.  You want to make sure as you wind the ball that this end remains free and accessible!

Start to wrap the yarn around this bunch in a circular motion to form a ball.  Keep your thumb pinched into the middle as you wrap.


Step 4: Keep Wrapping!


Continue wrapping the ball of yarn.  You will quickly see it begin to resemble a proper ball and it will be easier to understand what you're doing.

I like to keep my thumb stuck into the center of the yarn where I started wrapping so I don't lose the free end. 

Then I just wrap and turn, wrap and turn all around the ball until I'm out of yarn.

Finally, tuck in the end of the yarn you've been wrapping so it doesn't unravel.

Now you have a center-pull yarn ball.  Take the center end that you kept free, and start your knitting from there! 

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    Tips

    I've used this method dozens of times & it all works perfectly (even if you do the initial figure eight the opposite way or too little—I'm switching to this way now!) A couple of points to emphasize:

    - Start with the big loop of yarn placed around something it can't too easily slip off of, as it will get tangled up in the centre as the process goes on. I use my knees if I'm sitting legs up, or more recently, a lap desk (half up on one side, the other under below), but I think there might be an instructable for a Tinkertoy/K'nnex yarn swift here somewhere.

    - You might have trouble starting the wind but just shake the yarn lightly & it should come loose from its neighbouring strands. I admit I've sometimes given up & switched to the other end.

    - Stay loose. You don't want to pull too hard & stretch the yarn. This is especially important if you're not going to use the yarn immediately.

    - Some yarns are just too slippery. I've had fussy, slick, or glitzy yarn, usually ribbons, that just won't stay in a ball. Immediately after winding, I keep it in a separate baggie (I use larger baggies for projects) so it can be contained with just the one working strand allowed out through a hole.

    Questions

    22 Comments

    Sorry, that tip should have attached to the end, not the introduction, but I can't fix it myself. Also, I forgot to add the paper-towel trick: wrap the tricky, slippery yarn around an empty paper-towel core. You can then knit from a stand-alone paper-towel holder.

    How cool, I've seen and used the figure 8 with a little wrap to keep it together; and the second part on its own, which is time consuming in the beginning. These 2 combined is just genius !!! :-)

    Boy, I wish I had read your instructions yesterday! Had I done so, I would not have the mess I have to untangle now. But I paid $25 for my first hank of beautiful hand dyed wool, so now I will invest ANOTHER two hours trying to untangle it. Thanks so much for taking the time to post your How-To!

    Definitely working great! I tried knitting once before but gqvw up because of knotting. I didnt know to wind yarn. My thumb was a little sore, so ill go looser next time. A great start to my efforts to make a scarf! Thanks so much :)

    Oooh, wonderful!! I love Instructables! Thank you SO much for posting this here! Hopefully I'll be able to do it well. Just bought my 2nd hanks of, as another here, "expensive yarn," so I want to make sure it works okay. Thank you again, wonderful photos and text to explain it. :)

    I always have the roughest time making these, and now I know why--I was doing it wrong! Thanks for your great instructable!

    Thanks!!! I appreciate anything yarn rrelated and hadn't thought of this on my own! I must admit to a duh moment!

    You made it seem way too easy.. I bet I will have to try a couple times. Great instruction.

    I have always wanted to be able to do this. Me, thinking it has to be done by a machine. Thanks for sharing this great tip. When you have to carry yarn in a bag for travel knitting, this is the only way to go.

    This is great. I will need to try this!