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I've got this skein, what do I do with it?

Posted by Allison Barnes on
I've got this skein, what do I do with it?

Welcome to your first skein of hand-dyed yarn! Love it, squish it, sniff it, caress it and plan out your next project.

skein of hand dyed yarn

If you've never used hand dyed yarn before you may be looking for some tips on how to get your skein into a usable form - a ball or cake!

I've written some steps with photos to get you on your way with hopefully NO TANGLES!

Step 1: Remove the ball band or tag.

skein of yarn

Step 2: Pop the cherry - just kidding! Open the skein by untwisting (one end is tucked under the other end).

open skein of yarn

Step 3: Find the ends of the yarn - they are usually tied together and looped once around the skein keeping your yarn tangle free.

ends of yarn

Step 4: Keep your yarn under tension. You want the loop to be continuous and tight - this will ensure you do not get any tangles while you wind it into a ball or cake. Some ideas for keeping it under tension include: getting a buddy to hold the skein in each hand, putting the skein around two straight-backed chairs, or using a yarn swift (mine is umbrella style).

holding yarn

yarn on chairs

yarn on swift

Step 5: untie the ends of yarn and begin to wind your yarn into a ball (by hand) or into a cake (use a yarn ball winder). Your cake of yarn will look something like this:

cake of yarn

The beauty of a cake is that you can pull from the inside or the outside! I like pulling from the outside so that my cakes don't collapse which can cause tangling.

Do you have any suggestions on winding your skeins into usable forms? Leave me a comment below!


P.S. the yarn used in these photos is Alpine Pansies on Basic Sock.

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  • Jac'y Kennedy on

    A couple of years ago, I found an “Instructables” for making your own swift. I made one for me and one for my daughter and we love them. We have used nostepinnes to make balls, just our hands, or when I want fast, I use my cake winder. Most recently, my best friend held the skein whilst I wound by hand because we were a long way from home and I had not brought any winding accessories!

  • Brandi on

    Great tips!
    I use the back of the chair method and make a center pull ball by hand. I take a large crochet hook and wrap the yarn criss-cross around it back and forth. It does the job until I can get a yarn winder. ;)

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