How to Ball a Hank of Yarn

4 Tips to ball your yarn

Isn’t it exciting when you look in the mailbox and find your shipment of squishy, sheep smelling skeins of warmth and goodness!? If you are like me, you can’t wait to start casting on!

I want to help you get off to the best possible start with your project and give you some tips on how to get your skein of yarn into a ball or a cake.

1st Tip – When you get your yarn and slide off the Mountain Meadow Wool wrapper, don’t throw the wrapper away, it has information about the yards of the skein and most importantly the dye lot. If you need another skein you will want to know the weight of yarn, dye lot, and the name of the color!

2nd Tip – Inspect the skein:

Mountain Meadow Wool skeins have two ties.  One tie is the two ends of the yarn tied together; the other ties is generally a colored tie that is figure 8ed through the yarn.

Skein of yarn

Look at the colored tie and make sure that all the yarn is going through the tie, and that no strands have gotten doubled back over the tie.  When our team members twist the yarn, they look to make sure that all the yarn is going through the ties, but sometimes a strand will be missed. One strand in the wrong place can cause a lot of headaches, so don’t skip this step.

Skien on swift

3rd Tip - Another look at the skein, this time spreading the yarn out so it will be flatter than in a bunch.

4th Tip – Do you have a yarn swift and ball winder?

If not, you can easily put it in a ball. If you have a yarn swift put the skein around the swift with a little bit of tension.  Snip the colored tie and remove it. Snip the yarn ends just beyond the knot.

Skien of yarn being cut

Skien of yarn being cut

Determine which end is on the inside of the skein and which looks to be on the outside. Choose the outside strand; you may want to tuck the inside strand between the other yarn and the swift so that it doesn’t get tangled up as the swift goes around and around.

Attach the yarn to your ball winder, and turn the handle with consistent speed, don’t go too fast!  When getting toward the end of the yarn slow down, you may need to apply some tension to the yarn as the last rounds come off the swift.

Skien ono ball winder

Don't have a yarn ball winder or swift?

Okay, you don’t have a fancy swift and ball winder, no problem!  Here are a few options:

A) Set two kitchen chairs back to back and put the skein around the backs of the chairs, then spread the chairs apart to put a little tension on the skein, then proceed to cut the ties and make your ball.

Skien of yarn on chairs

B) Put the skein over something round, such as a laundry basket that is upside-down.

Skien of yarn on basket

C) My favorite method is to get the family involved by having a patient person put their hands inside the skein, with the yarn against the back of their hands and applying a little outward pressure as you go around and around making your ball.

A little bit of prep time will make this process a breeze and once you have your yarn in a ball you are ready to knit!

Knit On my fellow Fiberistas!!


25 comments


  • S.Biamonte

    Winding yarn is something to look forward. I get to know how the knew to me yarn feels in hands, reacts , flexibility, luxuriant in the smell, and pull the odd large bits of straw that won’t knit.
    The holder is often my two legs in some sort of yoga pose. Turning the winding process into an exercise. Well at least a zen like enjoyable process.
    Thx for your holder tips.


  • Sara

    I have kept my skein from tangling by hanging it on the end of the sofa arm and winding it into a ball from there if you don’t have a ball winder or a swift.. It seems to work ok .Hope this helps.


  • Vesta Ramsey

    Thank you 🙏 so much. I needed this so badly. God bless you for help.


  • Gerri Tranthem

    So informative and informative everyone has chairs and laundry basket so cool


  • Lori

    This is a great explanation! Love your swift. I’ve been a knitter all my life and only once, briefly, did someone hold yarn for me to wind. Still I have hope it’ll happen again!


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