The Wonders of Winding

I came home the other day with three hanks of yarn and I needed to wind them into cakes. (Lost you yet? Let’s back up…)

Yarn comes in all different shapes and sizes when you buy it at the store. It usually comes in either hanks or skeins. Hanks look like this:

Big loops of yarn twisted into that particular shape. This is how a lot of the nicer yarns (think yarn store, not big-box craft store) come. The problem is you can’t really use the yarn in this condition. In order to use it, it needs to be in a skein, a ball, or a cake.

This is a skein:

You can take this directly off the shelf and use it. Usually they are center pull, which means you can pull the yarn from the center and it stays together pretty well until you get down to the very last bit. Most big-box craft stores sell yarn in this shape. It’s easier for the customer to use and stacks well for displays.

I’m not going to show you a picture of a ball of yarn…. you guys got that one, right? Good.

So the question is, what happens when you get a hank of yarn? Most of the time, your local yarn store where you bought the hank of yarn will wind it into a cake for you. Or, if you buy it online and have a very patience dear husband or devoted friend, you can have their help to wind it into a ball:
Winding a skein of wool into a ball.

(Thank-you Google Images for that lovely illustration).

Or you can ask for a swift and ball winder for Christmas and have a new useful toy to play with! (This is what I did. Wanna see?)

So first you untwist the hank of yarn and you get this:

IMG_6367Then you put the yarn on the swift. (That is the name of this delightfully large wooden contraption):

IMG_6369The yarn is usually tied up in a few places, so those knots need to be undone:


Then you place the yarn on the ball winder (that’s the name of this delightful plastic contraption):

IMG_6373Thread the yarn through the metal guide:

IMG_6374And this is what you have:

IMG_6375Now the fun part:

As you turn the crank on the ball winder, the yarn is pulled through the guide and the wooden swift spins and spins. The ball winder starts to look like this:

About half way through the process (yes, this one is a different color of yarn…):

And voila!

IMG_6384       IMG_6381

You have your very own center-pull cake of yarn.

IMG_6385You can then use the yarn for all your exciting projects. (These cakes became mason jar sleeves, and some product tests that haven’t quite passed muster yet…)

So now you know how to wind a hank of yarn into a cake of yarn. You should share your knowledge today: it’s a fun tidbit, isn’t it? You could even go explore your local yarn store and see what other shapes they have. And if you find something particularly exciting, but you just don’t know what to do with it, send it my way. I’m sure I could figure something out. 😉

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