Some commercially spun yarns come from the mill wound into balls, ready to knit, while others come in loops or ‘hanks’ that need to be wound so you can knit without tangling. You can make a ball that can be pulled from the center very easily using an umbrella swift and mechanical ball winder at your LYS (local yarn shop) or you can do it quite nicely by hand, as shown below. A center-pull ball will sit quietly beside you (or in your project bag) while you work, making it less prone to tangling (and less tempting for pets!).
WINDING A CENTER-PULL BALL BY HAND
1. If your yarn is in a hank like this, first open it into a long loop. The mill will have tied off the loop in one or more places to keep it from tangling. Make sure no strands are crossing back over those ties.
2. Suspend loop around bent knees, over back of a chair, or have a friend hold it between outstretched hands. Keep hank under gentle tension.
3. Undo or carefully cut all ties. Find two ends of skein and choose one to begin winding. Hold it against palm with pinky and ring finger throughout winding so you can find it later! (Hold or wind with whichever hand you prefer.)
4. Begin winding yarn diagonally, criss-
crossing around outstretched index and middle fingers—all the while keeping the beginning tail tucked against your palm.
5. Keep winding diagonally, until a little ball has formed. Now ease fingers out and pop ball onto thumb; rotate ball on thumb as you continue to wind with gentle tension. Resulting ball should be soft and springy.
6. Once you reach the end, wrap ending tail around ‘waist’ of ball and tuck end under wrap. Use inner tail to begin knitting. (Tip: For very slippery yarns, use outside tail instead.)