The Centre-Pull Ball – Photo Tutorial

I don’t have access to a yarn-winding service, and don’t have a yarn winder either, so I had to learn how to unwind a hank of yarn, and hand-wind it myself.
I’m also a fan of pulling my yarn from the inside of the skein/ball because it rolls around less than when you use the yarn from the outside. So I prefer centre-pull balls.
I remember the first time I tried to unwind a hank and wind it up to use knowing nothing about it at all, I didn’t think to ask my mom how to do it. I mean seriously, I could have at least googled it right?!? No, I didn’t, blame it on baby-brains (I was about 6months pregnant at the time). Well, an hour later, my mom finished winding a small 50g hank of yarn, going through all the knots I’d produced etc. Oh boy.

So, I hope this photo tutorial will help prevent disaster for someone else! There are many books and articles that probably teach better than I do, but if this helps even one person, great! :)

Although it takes time to hand-wind large hanks like the one I am about to show you, I personally find it satisfying, therapeutic and just a little cute ;) I do recommend that you read the whole lot of instructions and look at all the pictures before starting.

Cascade Eco+ Shade 2445 "Shire", ordered online from Jimmy Beans Wool

I’m knitting Kalura’s gorgeous “Through the Woods” hood. I’m calling it “Hobbit in the Woods” because I decided to knit it to match a jacket I’m making for little Z this Winter (Cotton & Cloud’s Cabled Yoke Jacket) and it just reminds me of the green capes the hobbits wore in the movie version of Lord of the Rings (I am a fan of both the book and the movie). The yarn I’m using is Cascade’s Eco+ in shade 2445, aptly named “Shire”.

Preparation: Set the stage!

Firstly, decide how you are going to stretch the hank of yarn so that you can easily unwind and hand-wind it. Think of the classic picture of the grandchild keeping her hands still with the yarn around them while grandma hand-wound her yarn :) . Your spouse, bf/gf is another awesome yarn holder ;) “Except maybe use them sparingly and only for small hanks of yarn”, I hear my experienced Hubby yell. Your feet are possible, except that is pretty tiring (great exercise though I suppose!). You can buy yarn-winder-holders too (picture below). I opted for the other classic – the chair-back option. Placing two chairs (preferably heavy-ish chairs) back to back but spaced apart (depending on how big the hank of yarn is).

A yarn-winder-holder (or whatever its called!)

After you’ve taken off the label (Photo 1.), carefully untwist the hank so you can see the wound ring of yarn (Photo 2.) Sorry I forgot to take a close up of the knot, but you will find one somewhere in the hank. This is where the manufacturer has secured the hank. Undo it!

The important thing to remember here is that you should avoid agitating the hank of yarn too much, you want to keep the layers of yarn in the hank as it was when you untwisted it. This is so that when you unravel the yarn to wind it into a ball, you won’t feel that it is stuck anywhere, it will just unravel easily round and round and round. I hope this makes sense! So, after you’ve untwisted the hank, don’t move the hank too much, carefully undo the knot, and place the hank on your yarn holder. Anyway, here is my hank of yarn stretched around the chairs.

Hand-winding: The Core Issue

Given that this is specifically a centre-pull ball, it is the beginning, the “core” of the ball that you must wind correctly. Don’t worry, it’s actually quite easy.

Choose one end of the yarn to start. I usually look for the end that appears to be on the outside of the hank (relatively). Leave a tail of about 10inches. Start winding the yarn in a figure-8 through and around your fingers (Picture 3). Let me try to break it down:

  • I put the yarn between my middle and ring fingers;
  • Wind down and around the pinky;
  • Back up and between middle and ring;
  • Then up and around the pointer.
  • Repeat all steps. I wound it like this about 10 times (Picture 4).

If your hank is quite small, you can probably just use two fingers, making a smaller figure-8.

Now, gently take the “figure-8″ off your fingers (picture 5). Fold it in half (picture 6 and 7).

Now you can start winding quite happily, quickly and almost mindlessly (Picture 8), except here are two important points to remember as you continue to wind the ball:

  • Always keep the starting tail free. By this, I mean that you should not wind too close to the tail (Picture 9). As I wind, I try to keep my thumb at the exit point of the tail (picture 10);
  • Wind loosely in the initial stages, so that the tail is not choked inside the ball

It's growing! (Keep the space around the exit point of the tail free)

Keep your thumb at the exit point to remind yourself not to wind it too close to the tail.

I’m definitely not a fast yarn-winder, but that’s alright, I was enjoying myself, watching an episode of “Castle” when I wound this. It took me about 40mins to wind this 478yd (437m) hank of yarn.

When you’ve finished, tuck the end (not the starting tail!) behind a strand on the outside of the ball, and tada!!!! One cute (even though it’s massive) hand-wound centre-pull ball!

A hand-wound ball is so cute...~happy sigh~ :)

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2 Responses to The Centre-Pull Ball – Photo Tutorial

  1. Rafia says:

    Hey Jenny
    Thanks for the tutorial. I don’t know if mine would ever look as tidy as yours all “geometric” looking and all :)

  2. Lou Yim says:

    Wonderful tutorial. I think mine will turn out like a mushroom! hahah!

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