HOW TO KEEP YOUR SUPER SLICK YARN ORGANIZED WITH CROCHETED YARN HOLDERS
Since posting the above answer on How to Wind a Center Pull Ball of Yarn, I have had the “challenging pleasure” of working with several yarns which are exquisitely slick. As the yarn is used up while making the project, and the interior of the Center Pull Ball becomes more and more hollow, the ball can disintigrate into a messy wad reminiscent of a pile of seaweed. In fact, some yarns I have worked with are so slick, the center pull is nearly impossible to create, as the ball literally falls apart as soon as you let it go.
Examples of yarn fibers which fit this description include pure silk, pure alpaca, or some synthetic yarns. Lightweight silk/mohair yarns sometimes misbehave also when the ball becomes very hollow. This is generally not a problem with wool yarn, as the fibers “stick” to one another in the ball, holding it together. Superwash Wool is not as sticky, but still maintains itself in a tidy ball quite nicely.
So, what to do? For a long time I have used socks for “keepers”, especially children’s socks with lots of elastic, which progressively compress the yarn ball as it gets hollower and hollower. Sometimes I will place the yarn ball into a smaller very elastic sock only at a later stage in the hollowing-out process, when it looks like the yarn ball is about to fall apart.
Another option is the mesh bags that onions or shallots come in. They are tube-shaped, and can easily be tied at the “bottom” with a scrap of yarn, and then loosely tied at the “top” where the working yarn comes out. I have even seen these sold for the designated purpose of “yarn cosies”. However I don’t find them to collapse tightly enough to work very well for super slippery yarns at the later stages of yarn-ball-hollowness.
My recent favorite solution is to crochet yarn holders using a mesh stitch, shown here on youtube. To make the mesh stitch into a ball shape, begin with a chain of 5 or 6 stitches, and join it into a ring. Then following the mesh pattern, increasing over 4 or 5 rows to a circumference slightly smaller than your yarn ball. (You want it to be a slightly tight fit when the ball is first placed in the holder.) Add 4 or 5 more rows without decreasing, and try your yarn ball in the holder again to see if you have made it long enough to close comfortably around the ball. Some ripping-out and re-doing is likely to occur, but despite this I promise this is a very quick project. When the ball fits nicely, and you can close the top edge loosely around the center pull working yarn, lace a length of strong yarn that will not easily break (suck as cotton or linen) or a chained cord through the top edge loops, and you can then loosely close the top edge around the working yarn. The mesh stitch is very stretchy and will continue to hug the center pull ball nicely so that you don’t end up with a big tangled mess....
The cream colored yarn above is Scrumptious “4 ply sport superwash”, 45% silk and 55% superwash merino. It is slick enough that without the mesh holder, I know I would have had troubles near the end of the ball.
A SPECIAL CASE: A LITERAL GIRDLE FOR YARN THAT IS AS SLICK AS SNOT:
If any of you have tried knitting with eyelash yarn, you know what I mean. The yarn shown below is Prism “Plume”, 100% nylon - very gorgeous, BUT the slickest stuff I have ever tried to work with. It comes in a skein of only 45 yards, so you would think this would be no problem. BUT, it was too slick to even START a center pull ball with. So I wound it onto a rectangular piece of cardboard, then made a mesh yarn “girdle” in the shape of a rectangle, with 4 or 5 ties extending from two sides of the rectangle. I had to experiement and customize the size of the mesh rectangle very carefully for the cardboard, so that there would be plenty of hugging action. Even when tied tightly, as seen in the top photo below (which looks like some exotic alien sea creature, I know...) this yarn is so slippery that I can easily pull the working yarn from the outside of the ‘ball’. In the lower photo you can see where I added more ties to the outside of the rectangle, a couple of inches from the edge, so that as the yarn ‘ball’ gets smaller, I can crank down the ‘hugging action’ even more, in other words reduce the girth of the girdle, to further prevent a mess.
One last perk of crocheting your own yarn holders: you can put the yarn tag into the holder before you put the yarn ball in, so that you will always have the yarn information right there with your yarn... Happy Knitting!