January 10, 2009

How to wind your yarn skein into a center-pull ball

Just thought I would re-publish this- good information for you crafty folks out there!

Since I am offering skeins of handspun & dyed yarn on my etsy site, I thought it would be helpful to post a tutorial on how to wind a skein into a center-pull ball. I highly recommend doing this to prevent extreme frustration later on when you're feeling inspired to create with your handspun/dyed yarn!!! This comes from everything2.com. For information on how to wind yarn into a skein (for dyeing, etc) please see my earlier blog post.

by hand, not using a ball winder....
This allows yarn to be pulled from the middle of its skein rather than the outside. The single most compelling reason to make and use pull balls or skeins* is that they do not need to be able to roll around freely when you pull on them. This means they don't wander around on the floor or get tangled up with your other yarn. They are less tempting to one's feline friends, and they tend to stay cleaner. Also, if you are indulging in ambulatory knitting or crocheting, you can stuff the yarn in your pocket or any other tight space and it will still feed perfectly. This how-to works for all yarns, although some yarns are more suited to pull skeins than others. Yarns that tangle easily and cling stubbornly to themselves often do best as a regular ball.
From a ball, skein, spool or cone -
  1. Place the ball, skein or spool in something which will allow it to rotate freely, but not roll away. A very large mixing bowl, a cardboard box , or a paper or plastic bag all work well. A cone need not be placed in anything, simply stand it up on the floor near your feet.
  2. Make a slip knot in the end of the yarn and secure it around the wrist or a finger of the hand onto which you will be winding the new ball. I will continue the instructions assuming that this will be the left hand since they are identical when using one's right hand.
  3. Place your left fingertips relaxed but together so they hold the secured strand. It will run from your wrist or finger, through the inside of your hand, to the not-yet-wound yarn. Proceed to wrap the yarn around the knuckles of your left hand, centering the little bundle of yarn around the middle knuckle of your middle finger.
  4. Do not wrap tightly. Avoid stretching the yarn; that is bad for its overall well-being. After 10 or so turns, move your fingers (still held together) to the outside of the small bundle of yarn. Continue wrapping, and moving your fingers every few wraps. The extra space left by your fingers will help keep the yarn loose. Keep your thumb in the middle of the ball to prevent crossing over the opening.
  5. Change the angle at which you wrap to create a flattened ball shape. This will help keep the ball together once it is done. Depending on how much yarn you are working with, all your fingers may well become swallowed up in the ball. Make sure that you always leave a little slack in the yarn by moving your fingers every so many wraps. The ball will unwind from the center more smoothly if each successive layer is at the same tension or looser than the previous. Continue to wrap until all the yarn has been transferred into the ball. If you are using a cone, you may need to make several balls, as cones can hold a great deal of yarn.
  6. At this point, some people put their pull skeins in yarn bras to keep them from unraveling, tangling or otherwise messed up.
There is also a tool called a nostepinne; essentially a stick long enough for part to serve as a handle and part to hold the developing ball. You can use just about anything for a nostepinne (some folks use the cardboard tubes from paper towels), but there are also lovely ones made out of all sorts of materials, including gorgeous polished wood. The pin can be long or short and is as much as 1.5'' or more in diameter, and can taper or not.
To use one, the center end of the yarn is held against the handle and while the other hand wraps on an angle to the pin. The pin gets turned slightly with every wrap, which allows the yarn to create an overlapping pattern. The finished ball is slipped off the pin, ready to use. The large center hole allows the yarn to relax and helps prevent over-stretching.

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