Wednesday, August 27, 2008

winding yarn

I've always imagined that it would be so much fun to own my own ball winder... to be able to make those adorable little perfect yarn cakes. But I was astounded at the cost. I decided to do a bit of research first to make sure I chose wisely before purchasing.

In the meantime, I learned a very simple technique for winding a centre-pull ball of yarn... and it cost me nothing. I'm not going to be buying a ball winder now! I have no need for one... I am totally happy with this method.

All you need is a cardboard tube and your own two hands!

The perfect size tube is the inner roll from toilet paper. Now I have learned that there are two different types of people in this world... there are those who happily recycle these cardboard tubes for any purpose... and there are those who see them as germ-infested breeding grounds, which must be disposed of immediately!!!

These photos are a tiny bit blurry... because it's actually quite difficult to photograph yourself while your hands are busy winding yarn...

1

I have taken the tube from inside a roll of baking paper, and will need to cut it down to about one third of the size. So it is about the size of a toilet roll!

2

Make a small snip in the end of the tube.

3

Tie the start of your yarn in a knot.

4

Slip the knot inside the snip you made at the end of the tube.

5

Slide your thumb inside the tube, and hold the yarn in place with your finger as shown.

6

Begin winding your yarn.

7

Wind it three times around the tube. See the way the yarn runs diagonally across the tube? Look carefully... it is moving up and to the left. This is intentional.

8

Tug gently on the yarn, and let the tube rotate a little on your thumb. Allow it to make about 1/4 turn, and then wind diagonally three more times.

9

Again tug gently on the yarn, and let the tube rotate a little on your thumb. Allow it to make about 1/4 turn, and then wind diagonally three more times.

10

Keep going... wind, wind, wind, tug... wind, wind, wind, tug... wind, wind, wind, tug... I find it easier to hold the yarn still in my left hand, and wind the tube around the yarn. Probably sounds crazy... but that's what works for me!

11

See the way I am always moving the yarn diagonally across the ball...

12

Continue in this manner until done. Once you develop your own technique, you will find that the tube moves easily in your hand, and you no longer consciously turn it. It feels a bit awkward at first... but persist with it until you work out a rhythm... it really is easy!

13

Tuck the end of your yarn under a couple of strands to secure (but not hide) it.

14

Free the knot from the snip at the end of the tube.

15

Carefully slide the ball from the cardboard.

16

17

Squish the sides of the ball to ease the tension on your yarn.

18

Ta-da! Tuck the centre yarn end inside the ball. Leave the knot there... it will make the centre end easy to locate when you are ready to use the ball.

66 comments:

sue said...

You are so clever Sharon. I do own a ball winder and I am sure that sometimes your way looks easier to do.

Te Araroa said...

Fantastic! I'm up to my ears in plarn at the moment making an easy peasy crochet bag but as soon as I have a moment I'm going to try winding some yarn like this. Thanks for the instructions!

cats-rockin-crochet said...

You are so clever, well done.

Stramenda said...

Oh bummer, I wound my hank the "cat's ball" way today. This tute is fabulous !

I had borrowed a proper winder once, and they are not as effective as you might think, I think your way is brilliant!

I drink cups of tea said...

Thank you sweets. You saved me buying a $60 ball winder!!

*luv luv*

laughing purple goldfish said...

sue - thanks... you can try this method when you can't be bothered setting up the winder!

te araroa - looking forward to seeing your plarn bag :)

cat - thanks... and thanks for the proof reading, too!

stramenda - RE-WIND that hank... just for fun... lol

i drink cups of tea - just think of all the yarn you can buy with that $60 (or all the jumpers you can buy to frog)

Karen said...

Okay - I have to try this! I do have a ball winder (five dollars at a garage sale) and I love it but there are times when I enjoy the 'slow' way and use the tool meant to stir porridge with - wood and cone shaped - to hand wind a ball. Your way involving a hollow tube is intriguing. Thanks.

laughing purple goldfish said...

karen - what a bargain! a $5 winder... you scored well!

one of the things I love about winding by hand, is that it helps give you a good 'feel' for the yarn... sometimes it's during the winding process that inspiration for the next project strikes

kenda said...

Thank you so much for this one. A few weeks back I tryed to hand wind a hank of yarn that I got and make it a center pull by winding it around a small book but it just didn't work. I'm very excited to try this method and use the $40 I was considering to buy a ball winder with for more yarn.

laughing purple goldfish said...

kenda - yay - definitely spend that money on yarn instead!

Karen said...

I tried it! It works just great.
And yes there is the added satisfaction of hands-on. I ran some strips of duct tape (black) along the toilet tissue roll and tucked ends inside which gives the ball winder a never-would-have-guessed-this-used-to be-in-the-bathroom look and it makes the yarn ball easier to slip off.

laughing purple goldfish said...

sounds fancy karen... smart thinking!

aykayem said...

Clever idea!
actually I do something similar, but i don't use a loo roll or anything - I just use my index finger (or sometimes both that and the one next to it) to wind the yarn around ... and when I get to the bit about needing to rotate the tube - I just rotate the ball of yarn on my finger(s) ... it works for me - maybe because I am stubborn and/or too lazy to get up and find a dunny roll or something when my finger is right there on my hand - LOL
I will probably still eventually experiment with making my own yarn winder out of an old fishing reel I have - A: because making stuff like that is fun, and B: winding yarn on a cardboard tube or fingers can get a bit tiring/hard on the wrists/hands/etc if one wants to wind a large quantity of yarn ... lol

laughing purple goldfish said...

thanks for the tip... might come in handy one day when I can't get my hands on a cardboard tube

have fun experimenting with the fishing reel!

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for this. Most of the yarn I buy is in 100g balls, and it is almost never possible to use the yarn from the crentre - this way I can rewind them and knit from the centre.

I knit rather than crochet, but I always check your site as there is usually something for me.

I completed a knitted bag with a rectangular base, and didn't have a clue how to line it - but now I have found your tutorial, and it looks easy enough for me to give it a go.

I am also inspired by the way you embellish bags - simply but effectively.

Thanks again,

Alison (from the UK)

laughing purple goldfish said...

alison - thanks for taking the time to comment... glad you're enjoying the blog... I'm a long term knitter who has recently learned crochet... so I must admit, I'm a bit crochet crazy at the moment! all the best for lining your knitted bag :)

Julie Andrea said...

Oh, the timing is perfect for me finding you and this post! LOL I just changed the toilet roll AND purchased 10 skeins of wool from a friend, made from her own sheep. Awwwww!

I had been reading about ball winders, but it kinda goes against my grain to purchase something that I would only use for one thing, and it would only be used once in a while.

Showed mum your blog, she was ooo'ing and ahhh'ing and has put in her order with me for tote bags, I'll have to get cracking this winter. :-)

Thank you, you've created a very clever site, we are enjoying it very much this rainy Sunday afternoon.

Cheers,

Julie Andrea
sundayschild1966(at)yahoo(dot)com

laughing purple goldfish said...

julie - that IS the most perfect timing ever!!!

thanks for your beautiful feedback, too... much appreciated

Aimee said...

This is wonderful, wonderful, wonderful!!! I've been making center-pull balls on my thumb, and it's so tedious. Thanks for the idea!

laughing purple goldfish said...

aimee - this way is just like having a removable thumb extension... since I pop the cardboard tube over my thumb and then wind :)

Appliejuice said...

That's a really nice idea. I hadn't thought of using a paper towel tube. Thanks!!

laughing purple goldfish said...

appliejuice - you're welcome... it's a very handy technique

Susannah said...

I'm really interested in that afghan underneath your pics. How did you make that? Do you have the pattern?

Thanks!

laughing purple goldfish said...

susannah - I have sent you a personal email to the account linked to blogger... cheers!

Chelsea the Yarngeek said...

Check it out! You're on Whip Up for this this tutorial!!

http://whipup.net/2008/10/11/winding-yarn/

Rachel@oneprettything.com said...

Straight up genius! I'll be linking to this.

annemarie said...

I hope this is not a repeat - tried to post but it didn't work! Anyway I love your genius idea for winding yarn - can't wait to try it. I am curious about the afghan used in your background. Did you make it yourself - colors are so pretty. Is there a pattern available - would love to make something this pretty!!

laughing purple goldfish said...

chelsea - thanks for the 'heads up' on the WHIP UP mention.... yay!

rachel - thanks... spread the word... it's a fabulous technique, and so very, very easy

annemarie - thanks, yes... I made the afghan myself... would love to send you a message with some details... you can email me directly, or via ravelry (laughingpurple)

Emmanuance said...

Truely awesome tutorial. Thanks

laughing purple goldfish said...

emmanuance - glad to help :)

Anonymous said...

Hi! I am swedish and dont read english so good but i understood a lot my read the things I understand and looking at you pictures. Very good of you, thank you!

laughing purple goldfish said...

wonderful :)

Karen M-M said...

I too just love this winding technique and the timing is incredible. I just got 3 one-pound hanks of wool yarn on eBay and never have attempted winding before!
Also, you must share your pattern for the argyle afgan in the photo.
Its awesome!

laughing purple goldfish said...

karen m-m - the afghan in the photo is a patchwork style, with all those pieces stitched together... would love to send you a message with some details... you can email me directly, or via ravelry if you are a member there (laughingpurple)

Becky said...

Such a great idea! I saw this tutorial and couldn't wait to try it...and since I didn't have a toilet paper roll handy, I just used my largest curling iron! Worked perfectly. Thanks for all the great ideas.

Becky

laughing purple goldfish said...

becky - wow! a curling iron... that is thinking outside the square! and it worked? FABULOUS!!!

Megan said...

I just started knitting about a month ago, and even though I am a new knitter I hate when the yarn I'm using rolls all around because it's not a center-pull ball of yarn. I used a bottle of mousse for your technique, because I didn't have a cardboard roll - the top of the bottle snaps to the body of the bottle, so I stuck a strand of yarn under it and it was very secure - it worked perfectly! Thank you so much!

laughing purple goldfish said...

megan - wow! that's a creative method also... I love seeing people USE WHAT THEY HAVE... excellent

Becky said...

Yup, it worked great and I have been rolling up random scraps like crazy! Let me just tell you...LOVE your site! I check it every day to see what new ideas you have. I am anxious to hit up some consignment shops to find some yarn to recycle. You're very inspiring. Keep up the good work! :-D

Becky

laughing purple goldfish said...

becky - I'm still amazed about that curling iron... but WHY NOT! thanks for stopping by again... and I love it when my readers leave comments... it gives me a chance to get to know you :)

LisaB said...

Okay, I wound my first skein this morning from a sweater I had recycled using your method. I have a slightly less than perfect yarn cake, maybe a little tightly wound. I am so happy! I have been reading the other comments and will try something, maybe a dowel of wood? Using my fingers sounds exhausting. Anyway, I recycled three sweaters and have quite a bit to do. Love this!

laughing purple goldfish said...

lisab - wow... you've been a busy little bee, haven't you? it sounds like it's full steam ahead for you and recycling - fantastic :)

just watch your tension when you wind... if you are too tight and using a cardboard tube, you can crush it slightly to remove the yarn... but if you are using something solid, like the dowel, and wind too tightly, it will be tricky to remove

LisaB said...

Yes, I discovered you are right about the tension. I balled up two skeins for a project and am finding twists in the yarn I pull out to knit. Any suggestions to avoid that? I love doing this though, it is so liberating, especially for somebody as limited in income as myself.

laughing purple goldfish said...

lisa b - not really... I just find that I needed to train my self to work as loosely as possible

Suz said...

thank you! i just tried winding my own ball using your method, and it worked perfectly and easily. your whole page is terrific. :D

laughing purple goldfish said...

suz - wonderful! it is amazingly easy, isn't it? and you just get faster and faster at it with practice, too

Karen said...

Please do try my most recent discovery of winding a ball on one's thumb - it is truly amazing and I am sure an ancient practice but I just learned of it!!!!

laughing purple goldfish said...

karen - I've actually tried the thumb method... I prefer the cardboard tube, but it's nice to have something to fall back on !

Netta M said...

HI I think I need help with this I dont get it when I try it. Can you help me out here I cant afford a ball winder.

Netta M said...

Can I ask for help with this technique I guess im not getting it.

Late Night Hooker said...

Thanks for this post! I'm definitely going to have to try this tomorrow, we have 2 empty TP rolls in the bathroom right now lol

laughing purple goldfish said...

netta... I have spoken to you by email, but just wanted to let others know that I am working on a short VIDEO demonstrating this technique... which might make it easier to follow

latenighthooker - you're welcome... isn't it wonderful???

Tallguy said...

I thought everyone kept these tubes for winding yarn on them. I've got boxes of them. Some brands fit on the ball winder perfectly, some don't.

Be warned that your yarn will not be the same if you use your right or left hand when winding, because one will add more twist to the yarn, and one will remove twist from the yarn. Sometimes that can be crucial.

DDRevia said...

Thanks for the tip using towel holders. My hubby will definitely LOVE this one better than another machine, hehehehehee

Olive Wild said...

"Love"

Sweet P said...

I found your link today while googling directions for winding a center pull yarn ball. I tried your directions, loved them and blogged about it with a link to this entry. Thanks for the help!

Anonymous said...

Yay! Thank you for sharing such a great idea! I'll share a quick one my sister passed to me about storing, the "putting-on" and "taking off" of the Christmas tree lights: The same technique, using a roll from holiday wrapping paper. Cut 2 little "v" shapes on each end of the tube, each "v" cut facing the other; insert the plug end of the strand of lights, wrap light strand from end to end of the tube, with the strand snuggled into the "v" cuts. When done, I tuck the very first light on the strand (if there is only one plug end) under one of the already wrapped strands, and tie a red bow on it so that the next year you can find the beginnings of the lights and not have to fight with a tangled mess!

BlueFrogJ said...

Thank you so much for this tutorial. I've recently begun crocheting and it seems the yarns I love most come in hanks. I tried out your technique last night and it made things so much super easier!

Melissa said...

A-MAZ-ING!!!! I have a new blog and todays shout out is to you! Fantastic idea, my toilet roll is now a permanent part of my crochet tub. Thank you!

Check out your shout out:
http://honeybeeboutiqueandblog.blogspot.com/2012/01/this-weeks-shout-out.html

UnicornUnique said...

I found this on ur site in an "oh this looks cool, and that does too, and what else can this laughing purple goldfish show me..." kind of way. Thank you soo much for sharing! I grow tired of chasing those pretty, pull from the outside, kitty-cat-playing-with balls around. (although repurposing a disposable plastic container to corral it works well)

I have wound 2 balls already and may have to adapt this for my remaining partial skeins as well as new ones. Still need to try frogging some old sweaters...

Gr8ful Momma said...

Fantastic, thank you!

I am one that will happily recycle my tp tube.

pebblz74 said...

That's so clever. I would never have thought to do that! Great job and thanks for sharing. Usually I recycle them, but I will save them from now on just for this...

Lauren said...

Thanks for this. A friend showed me how to do it a while back but I'd forgotten and she's now in a different country ...

Kanchan Karai said...

This is a great idea. Will try it. I was using and old marker pen. Worked for me.

Jennifer said...

Oh.My.Goodness. <3 I just tried this method and it worked BEAUTIFULLY. It took me a few "rounds" to get a nice rhythm going, but once I did... I'm completely in love. I'd been using my hand to make pull-from-the-center balls, but this is SO much prettier. Plus, once you remove the yarn from the roll and "squish" it up a bit, it actually looks a bit professional! Thank you SO much for such a helpful, wonderful, beautiful way to roll my yarn! Hurray TP rolls! ;)

Deborah Ziegler said...

Awesome! Thanks so much!