Sunday, November 6, 2011

Yarn Basics: Just How DO You Make This A Ball?

When you purchase yarn, it comes in many forms. Skein, cone, and hank are the most common. The easiest way to use the yarn you have is to roll it into a ball. This is generally pretty straightforward, but the best way to unwind the original yarn form depends on which model your yarn comes in.

Part of Amelia's Christmas
Skeins are usually center-pulled, meaning there is a piece of yarn coming from the center of the skein, which you pull and the yarn should come smoothly from the middle of the skein. Some people choose to work from the skein without balling it. The more preferred method, however, is to ball it because occasionally you will encounter tangling within the skein, and it is much easier to untangle the yarn while winding a ball than it is while knitting a project!

New yarn!
Cones are similar to skeins only they come in the shape of a cone. Because the yarn is wound around the cone, it is generally safe to use yarn directly off the cone without much risk of internal tangling. You can always wind it into a ball though if you prefer!

Jaggerspun Zephyr cone
Hanks are the most difficult yarn form to ball. They are composed of the yarn strand, which is looped over and over then twisted into the more stable hank-form. Therefore, you cannot center-pull a hank or use the yarn directly from the hank as you can with skeins and cones. Rather, you must unwind the hank, place the giant loop of yarn over a holder, such as the back of a chair, the hands of a helper, or a knitting swifter. Using any of these holders, you will be able to unloop the yarn and ball it.

Green Tess Designer Yarns
Many people who use knitting swifters also use ball winders. The swifter is specially made to hold handspun hanks of yarn, and the ball winder winds the yarn easily without the hassle of untangling the looped yarn. Both the ball winders and the swifters are incredibly useful and worth every penny if you are an avid fiber artist.
Swift:                                 Kauni on swift

Ball Winder in Action: electric yarn ball winder in action

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