How to Have a (Yarn) Ball!

Yarn, yarn, everywhere, but not a yarn ball to knit from!

On my last trip, I rushed out the door with a skein of yarn and a pair of knitting needles. I usually rely on my mechanical ball winder, but sitting in the backseat of the car, I was impatient to get started. I remembered seeing Kate Larson wind lovely balls of yarn using just her left thumb in her book The Practical Spinner’s Guide: Wool. Here’s Kate to teach you:

Wind a Center-Pull Ball by Hand

Part of my sampling and planning process is winding center-pull balls by hand. I love to feel the yarn passing through my fingers and think how a beautiful handspun yarn might be put to best use. You can use a tool called a nøstepinne to wind the same type of ball, but I enjoy tool-free winding.

lay the open skein across your knees

1. Simply lay the open skein across your knees and grasp the tail of yarn in your palm with your thumb pointing upward.
. Wrap the yarn loosely

2. Wrap the yarn loosely a few times around your thumbnail in a clockwise direction.

Continue wrapping the yarn

3. Now, continue wrapping the yarn this way, but try to lay the wraps from the bottom right corner to the upper left corner of the yarn on your thumb. After laying a few wraps this way, rotate the ball clockwise a bit. Place a few more wraps and rotate clockwise again.

Continue wrapping and rotating

4. Continue wrapping and rotating being sure to keep the tail in your palm.

The finished ball.

5. The finished ball.

—Anne Merrow

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