I have noticed so many people take a brand new skein of yarn, and then they create a ball of yarn. What is the purpose of doing so?

5 Answers 5


It's more important to rewind into a center-pull ball of yarn if you are buying some specialty yarns that are basically a loose oval of yarn twisted into a loose figure eight - this structure is called a "hank."

Hank of yarn both coiled and uncoiled

There's no need to rewind a typical commercial center-pull skein. The work of keeping the yarn from tangling has already been done for you.

Rewinding from a loose hank/oval of yarn is usually a two-person job: one person has both hands through the loose oval of yarn holding it open while another person rewinds the yarn into a ball.

If you do need to rewind, it's important not to stretch or pull on the yarn, the yarn should be soft and relaxed.

This Instructable is a good tutorial on rewinding from a hank, and has good pictures.

Bottom Line: no you do not need to rewind your yarn into a ball if you have purchased a regular commercial center-pull skein.

Enjoy your knitting!

  • 2
    Worth noting that my (and many other) favorite yarn shop has a yarn winding machine and they will either wind it for you for free (if it's not busy) or show you how to use it and let you do it (particularly if you have many hanks of yarn). It's much faster and the finished product is much neater!
    – Catija
    Commented Jun 26, 2017 at 20:03
  • 4
    I actually will often rewind a commercial center pull ball, because it seems that they tangle on me quite frequently. But, I will also rewind a ball because it gives me the opportunity to "pre-test" working with the yarn--to see if there are any knots in the ball/skein, to determine if the yarn sheds, etc. With all of that said, I agree 100% that the only time you absolutely need to wind yarn into a ball is if it has come in a hank.
    – magerber
    Commented Jul 3, 2017 at 21:42
  • This is a great comment. I like the idea of not being surprised by random knots. I'm also a big fan of pre-testing anything I make, and for knitting or crochet, if I don't make a test swatch for the correct gauge, I always regret it.
    – user1798
    Commented Jul 4, 2017 at 22:34
  • Who doesn’t love a niddy noddy!?! That’s the tool to use when you don’t have a friend to hold the yarn while you make the ball. 💗 🧶 Commented Mar 24, 2020 at 19:49
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    @rebusB hanks of yarn that you don't make into balls become tangled extremely easily... I found this out the hard way. I spent as much time unknotting the yarn as I did crocheting with it.
    – Catija
    Commented Dec 8, 2020 at 1:41

I've always wound my yarn into a "cake" using a yarn winder. This gives me the opportunity to inspect the yarn as it winds and also produces a compact, center-pull cake. I find the center-pull cakes handy when it comes to portability, organizing and cleanliness. I place each one into a Zip-Lock baggie (from the dollar store) and zip it almost shut leaving enough room to pull the yarn out. If I need to move to a different location all I need to do is grab my project and the baggie(s). If I'm using more than one strand of yarn they're less likely to get tangled and even if they do they're easier to untangle. Unlike balls, the baggies don't roll around and get into trouble and the yarn doesn't pick up lint or stray people or pet hairs.


For me, I really hate pulling from skeins, inside or outside, mainly because a skein of yarn is really loose, and using something like a yarn bowl with a ball of yarn works really well and allows me to rewind it without looking very tight because skeins are wound around a center spoke as you see on yarn winders, just smaller. Balls of yarn are also easily portable, and you don't have to worry about it tangling (another side effect of skeins being loose) as several loops of yarn tend to fall off and impede knitting or crochet. But it's always a personal choice, there are reasons for leaving in a skein like if you don't actually take it around, then you don't need to spend time winding a ball, and for some people it's the ball winding process that gives them the most tangles.


I'm still new to crochet, but when I complained about the yarn strands coming apart while I worked, I was told I might be working against the direction of the twisted strands and should roll into a ball so I could work from the other end. So, I'm guessing different manufacturing machines have a different twist?

  • 1
    The advice you were given is entirely wrong. The twist on the yarn is the same no matter which end you start with. Untwisting of the yarn is connected to the way the yarn was plied and how a stitch is formed. Very shortly: in knitting you usually wrap the yarn clockwise and in crochet counterclockwise on your tool and most yarns are plied in such a way as to work well with knitting, not crochet. Look into s- and z-twist to learn more Commented Apr 17, 2020 at 6:32
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    Sorry mate... but this should be a comment or even its own question. Not an answer.
    – rebusB
    Commented Dec 9, 2020 at 21:08

I find that breaking a skein down into balls helps when using multiple working yarns (for instance, with color changes) helps keep the working yarns manageable. Ever tried changing between four difference skeins?

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