To wind a centre-pull ball of yarn by hand:

yarn spaghetti

1. First, unwind a skein (hank) of yarn using either a swift, or just by draping the skein over my knees, and gradually unwinding it and dropping it loosely onto the floor, or into a paper bag or box, so that it forms a loose pile of yarn spaghetti.  If you have pets or children, I think the best thing to do is to drop it into a bag or box, so the critters can’t tangle it up.

2. Holding the end of the yarn with your thumb, begin to wrap the yarn around 2 fingers, several times in one direction, then switching the angle at which the wraps are made every so often.

3. Continue winding until you have a little ball on your fingers, and then take your fingers out, and put your thumb into the centre hole, and then continue to wrap the yarn, turning the ball every so often to wrap at a new angle.

Wrap gently, being careful not to make too tight a ball, as this will put strain on the yarn.

Be sure to always have the yarn end poking out of the centre, and be careful not to lose it by wrapping over it.

4. Eventually you will run out of yarn, and have a lovely hand-wound centre-pull ball of yarn!

For most types of yarn, it works to pull from the centre of this type of ball, and this also allows for 2 strands of yarn to be held together from the same ball, or for 2 pieces of knitting to be worked from a single ball (for example, when knitting 2 pairs of socks at the same time from a single ball).

However, some delicate or ‘sticky’ yarns, such as mohair or lace-weight silk yarn can be difficult to pull from the centre, as their strands tend to stick together and tangle.  In these cases, it is best to knit from the outside of the ball.

Enjoy your lovely hand-wound balls!

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pvc niddy-noddy

A niddy-noddy is used to make skeins (or hanks) of yarn, which are basically just big coils of yarn. When yarn is in skein form, it is possible to wash it or dye it, and then hang it to dry. This isn’t possible with yarn in ball form, as a wet ball of yarn will never dry out. So as part of the yarn recycling process, I skein the unraveled yarn in order to wash and dry it (to relax the kinks, and restore some loft to the yarn), and dye it if I’m planning to do that. My niddy-noddy is made of pvc plumbing pipe which can be purchased cheaply from a hardware store. Instructions for how to make a niddy-noddy like this can be found at ‘As The Yarn Turns’, but it is relatively self-explanatory by looking at the finished product.

DIY yarn swift

A yarn swift is the second tool required for dealing with yarn. It holds skeins of yarn in a secure format while you unwind them, and wind them into balls. Basically this avoids the situation where you annoy all of your friends and relatives by asking them to hold your skeins between 2 hands while you wind the yarn into balls! It’s not absolutely necessary, but it is convenient. To make this swift I followed the excellent tutorial found at Crafty Diversions.

Basically, these tool are necessary because when dealing with yarn, you’re dealing with a VERY long, VERY tangly material, and you have to go to a lot of trouble to avoid it becoming a tangled, unusable mess of knots. You can get by without these tools, by winding skeins between hand and elbow, or around a chair back, and by holding them on your knees to unwind them, however, it cost me ~ $10 to make both of these items, and they make everything yarn related a lot more convenient!