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Keep Yarn Organized: Learn How to Wind a Center-Pull Ball By Hand

Center-pull balls of yarn are convenient to use and to store, and are perfectly easy to make! Rest assured: if you can wind yarn into a regular wrapped ball, you have all the skills it takes to make a center-pull ball. Use this one trick to keep your yarn safe and tidy in storage, and stop it from bouncing all over the floor as you work!

You'll need:

Yarn: Skeins, wrapped balls of yarn, spools and hanks can all be wound with this method. If you're winding yarn from a hank, you'll need a swift to keep it spread out (or a volunteer to hold it spread out as you work). For this tutorial, I used a skein of Alpine Wool in Olive.

A smooth, sturdy winding tool: I like to use a thicker-gauge crochet hook or long knitting needle. You could use a pen or a pencil in a pinch, they just have to be clean, sturdy and smooth.



1) Tie a slip knot in the end of your yarn.

2) Tighten this slip knot on your winding tool. I like to pull this slip knot tight in the hook of the crochet hook, or high up toward the end of the knitting needle, to keep it out of the way.

3) Hold your yarn against the winding tool with your thumb, and wrap it around the winding tool several times near the end as shown.

4) Continue to wrap yarn around these first clump of wound yarn, criss-crossing as you work from time to time as shown. This should feel just like winding a regular wrapped ball of yarn, only this ball of yarn has a winding tool poking out of it.

5) Continue in this fashion until all your yarn is wrapped, then tuck the end into the ball under a few strands to secure it.

6) Still holding that first bit of yarn between your thumb and the winding tool, gently ease the tool out of the ball.

7) All done! The end with the slip knot in it will now be the start of your next project, and yarn will pull from the center of the ball with ease!

What yarncrafting or organization tips would you like to learn in a tutorial like this?

Let us know in the comments section!


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  • Carolee

    Thats neet to see, why do you need to take you skein and put in into a ball? I have never done this Thank you Carolee 

  • Dominique

    It just so happens that the yarn they used was already a center pull skein...if you get a hank of yarn this is very useful!

  • Tephra

    I generally use a Sharpie for my winding tool (nostepinne). Once I have a bit of a ball started on it I tilt it 45 degrees and turn it slowly as I wrap the yarn around it. I end up with a yarn "cake" like you get from a mechanical ball winder that sits nice and flat.

  • Mlewicki2

    How funny! I was just this afternoon trying to think how to do this!! 

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1429390615 Linda Roberts Kennedy

    Almost all yarn now is made with a center pull--if you can find it!  I use this with my leftovers.  Espcially if it is a larger bit of yarn.  But I just use my thumb to start and it was so much easier to get a ball instead of an  oval.

  • knitting granny

    When using this method you have to be very careful not to wind too tightly and stretch out the yarn.  I prefer winding a few strands around 3 fingers, and then forming a ball by gently wrapping the rest of the yarn around those strands and my thumb. As the ball builds I pull the "topknot" (the initial few strands wrapped around my fingers) up so that it is sticking out of the ball. The result is a soft ball of yarn that keeps its original tension and flexibility.  when ready to knit, I just pull the topknot out and it becomes the center pull.

  • Susiejunebug

    This sounds like a fantastic idea, can't wait to give out a try!

  • Yarnitect

    I also use this method to remake balls of yarn with the remnants of skeins. I wrap it around my thumb and turn the ball 1/4 turn every 10 wraps or so.

    What I'd really like to know is what to do with the extra yarn I pull from the center. If I frog a project that's on a center pull...I'd love to get it back in the center. But often times can't. anyone know a solution for this? 

  • Shirley

    I have been searching for a baby blanket pattern that I made about nine years ago.  The pattern had crocheted x's and o's that repeated throughout the blanket.  Have any of you found a pattern like this?
    I would like to make it again for a baby-on-the-way for my niece.

  • Portialee13

    To assure that the tension on the ball never gets tight I use a paper tower core to wrap the yarn around to get the flat cake configuration.  When the core is removed the tension disappears.  To ease the removal of the core I cover it with cling wrap before starting the ball.  This also precludes and wandering balls of yarn!!

  • Portialee13

    Paper towel core.....

  • Denise

    I'd like to see a short row tutorial.

  • http://www.desperatehouselife.com/another-great-technique-on-how-to-make-a-center-pull-ball-of-yarn.html Another Great Technique on How to Make a Center Pull Ball of Yarn |

    [...] Read more detailed instructions on how to make a center pull ball here. [...]

  • AmiGuruMee

    What yarncrafting or organization tips would you like to learn in a tutorial like this?
    -I'd like to learn how to wind a ball or skein of yarn into a hank by hand without any special tool. Like maybe a household item you can use?

  • http://crochettalk.com/links-resources/6230-how-make-center-pull-yarn-balls.html#post62301 How to make center pull yarn balls

    [...] very complicated and time consuming. So I did a search and came across this one from Lion Brand. One Trick to Turn Any Yarn Into a Center-Pull Ball | Lion Brand Notebook This one is SO easy - and it [...]

  • http://shanascraftycorner.wordpress.com/2013/03/15/one-trick-to-turn-any-yarn-into-a-center-pull-ball-lion-brand-notebook/ One Trick to Turn Any Yarn Into a Center-Pull Ball | Lion Brand Notebook | Shana's Crafty Corner

    [...] One Trick to Turn Any Yarn Into a Center-Pull Ball | Lion Brand Notebook. [...]

  • http://www.mooglyblog.com/unpinning-pinterest-71612/ Unpinning Pinterest 7/16/12

    [...] How to Wind a Center Pull Ball of Yarn by Hand: Lion Brand blog gets a second mention this week for this great tutorial on winding your own center pull balls. I’ve been admiring the gorgeous nostepinnes on etsy, but now I know I can do this with stuff I already have – love that too! [...]

  • http://stitchesnscraps.wordpress.com/2013/06/26/another-lightbulb-moment/ Another “lightbulb” moment | Stitches 'n' Scraps

    [...] just found this tutorial on the Lion Brand Yarn blog….how cool is this?! I’m going to try it next time I need to [...]

  • http://www.carahcreations.com/my-first-cake/ My FIRST Cake… | Carah's Creations

    [...] cake that is! I hand-wound this (since I don’t have a yarn wonder…yet). Check out Lion Brand’s Blog for instructions on making a center-pull [...]

  • nikolama

    thank you so very very much for this! I've been struggling with stubborn balls of yarn in what seems forever (I usually end up gutting them out and untangling every yard - do I realy have to say that I hate it?) but I think I can leave that behind me...

  • Riley

    Mine turned to look like a seed lolol
    :D but thank you for this!~

  • pennypeberdy

    Great way to wind a ball for plying the left-over yarn from spinning. This way the ball doesn't fall apart!

  • http://chezlysa.com/?p=27 WIP Wednesday + Hair Brush Nostepinne | chez lysa

    […] the house into an object with yarn wrapped around it. You can also make a center pull ball using a knitting needle or a thread spool. This entry was posted in Crafts and tagged Knitting by chezlysa. Bookmark the […]

  • Vivian Rea Gentry

    I learned how just a little differently but this looks easier. To answer question on why, I will use a new skien with a pull out but about half way it starts getting tangled so I start from that point and wrap it into a ball.

  • http://crochetwithpassion.wordpress.com/2014/01/04/to-wind-or-not-to-wind-that-is-the-question/ To Wind or Not to Wind – that is the Question? |

    […] (http://blog.lionbrand.com/2012/07/13/keep-yarn-organized-learn-how-to-wind-a-center-pull-ball-by-han…) […]

  • Kate

    Great idea for giving that little ball of yarn to your cats to play with for a while until it's time to get back to work! c: As long as it isn't unravelling already.

  • http://www.hollychayes.com/2014/03/24/knitting-from-both-ends-of-a-skein/ Knitting From Both Ends of a Skein | Holly Chayes

    […] often done with a ball winder, but you can also use a Nostepinne, (or replace the Nostepinne with a knitting needle, dowel, pencil, even a bottle of […]

  • logawood

    If you use self-striping yarn, you will get double the colorways by winding half of the balls from the outside. The yarn is printed for the same color repeats used from the center of the skein, so winding half from the outside will give different colors.

  • Brenda

    Thank you, Margaret, for sharing this. It really comes in handy with the leftover yarn. This is much better than leaving it a tangled mess or rolling it in a "regular" ball that will roll all over the place when you use it. I never would of thought it would be so easy to create a center-pull yarn ball.