All Wound Up :: The good, the bad, and the ugly

I remember the first time I brought home yarn in a hank. It was a disaster. I laid it out nice and flat on the couch next to me and started to knit. Wow. You can guess what happened next.

So I went to the yarn shop and asked about it and they were like “oh we could have wound that for you!” Hello Kristin. Anyway so they did. So by the time I got to the last skein of center pull ball that was a huge disaster. Huge Yarn Snarl! I didn’t know it at the time but you don’t always knit a project as quickly as you think you will. And if you let a wound center pull ball sit for say a few weeks or even a few days depending on the yarn and then knit from the center yarn – well it’s a huge tangle.

So then there was a “well what do I do if the yarn shop is closed and I want to start my next skein?” Over a chair, over the hands, on the floor. For me all ended in yarn snarls. I’m not sure why. For me what worked best was over the knees.

Here is the good: I sit in a chair with my knees up slightly higher than my hips and put the yarn over it. Then my knees can create the needed tension to keep all the yarn straight – just like an umbrella swift does (which for whatever reason I always want to call a butterfly swift – whatever).

Like so:

When you wind yarn in the ball start by going around all four fingers, then fold it over and wind more yarn around it alternating how the ball is tilted so you get a nice round ball. Make sure to always go from the outside of the hank:

This will prevent snarls and things getting mixed up.

So why do center pull balls wound with one of those great little crank winders suck for long term storage? Well a few reasons.

The Bad: When a yarn ball is wound using a crank winder it’s wound pretty tightly in the center and looser around the outside of the ball. It’s just the nature of the beast. So over time, the center decompresses out towards those looser strands, giving it just enough wiggle room to turn into an epic sized – throw the yarn ball out the window – never want to try to untangle that big of a yarn mess again – yarn snarl. The other thing that happens, and this is especially true for wool, angora, mohair, anything fuzzy and animal; is that over time the fibers in the yarn strands get smashed up and mixed together and in someways almost felt/mat together. Causing not tangled knots, but just tangled slubs of yarn strands.

The Ugly: Over time a yarn that is wound too tightly will get kinks in it. This is true for some yarns that are commercially spun too. It’s not anything blocking won’t fix, but it’s just not as fun to work with. You can refresh the yarn by putting it back into a hank and soaking it in some warm water (no agitation please!) and then hanging to dry. Like over the shower bar with a can of soup in the loops to weigh it down. I swear it works! It’s what I do for yarn I recycle from sweaters too.

Oh a yarn resurrection post might be a good idea for later. yeah!

Well, i’ll see you all tomorrow, I hope this helps in your yarnie adventures!



The March issue of Craft Leftovers Monthly is in the shop!

You can get a one month subscripton
or three month subscription or
the zine only.
You can also get the February issue of clm if you missed out on it last month.
I’ve been thinking that since I’m taking the weekend off, I’m going to keep clm in the shop until Sunday night :)

So! March subscriptions are on sale until Sunday, February 15th and will all be sent out Wednesday, February 18th!

3 thoughts on “All Wound Up :: The good, the bad, and the ugly

  1. Great information Kristin! Love the pictures! I think we’ve all felt that frustration to some extent. Nothing worse than spending all evening untangling yarn instead of knitting!


  2. Hi Kristin,

    I read this about wrapping the yarn around your knees at just the right time – I had 3 hanks to ball. Great idea! I would like to suggest that it also works great if you are sitting on your bed (or couch or the floor) with your knees bent, and wrap the yarn around your knees.


  3. Hi Kristin,
    Great information! My first hank was the one you gave me for Christmas and guess what I had a terrible mess. So for my second hank, I looked up ways to avoid the mess. I found if you drape it around a lamp shade, it works wonders too. I will have to try your method next.
    BTW, thank you for the yarn, it turned into a beautiful scarf!

Comments are closed.