Friday, September 3, 2021


I hope that this post can help new knitters and crocheters start to understand yarns. On my blog I want to help as many newbies to grow in the craft and make their experience more pleasurable. I don’t know who is looking at this blog whether it be new knitters/crocheters or ones from different countries. But we need to keep in mind that we all started at the beginning and felt lost in the world of terminology and techniques. If something at any time is not clear, please reach out so that I can explain further.

The world of yarn can bring a little struggle even for those like myself that has been working with the craft for years. So when you are starting out it is even more confusing. Because I attend several zoom sessions for knitting and crochet, sometimes we assume that all on the call knows the basics. But that is not always true. Depending upon who taught them or what level they are at they might not have been shown the most basic things.

There are so many yarns and yarn companies out there today, but three main packaging’s are usually used. And there are a couple of rules to follow so your experience will be a pleasant one.

Yarn is either wound in a:

1) ball

2) skein

3) hank

With a skein and ball there are two ways to use it.

1) Inside tail (called Center-pull)

2) Outside tail

Some skeins have it marked which side to pull out the center pull and others don’t.

It doesn’t mean that you can’t use the center pull, but you might have to dig inside the middle to find it. What can happen is when you try to find that tail in the middle, you can get a glob of yarn and you think it is knotted. So you might have the tendency to pull and pull just to make a bigger mess. To alleviate that problem, you must understand that it is not a knot but that the yarn has just tangled around each other, and it needs to be gently released and then it will work out fine. Also, when you are working with a skein of yarn and you get to a place where that it seems to be all tangled up, avoid the urge to pull until it is a knot. I shake the yarn and try to see where it is tangled around each other. Yes, I said shake. It won’t knot up but you can see where things are just wrapped around each other by taking the tine to really examine before getting agitated. That can loosen it up so you can work with freeing that little mess.

Even though it is so much nicer to work with the center pull, you don’t want to frustrate yourself with the process of trying to find the center yarn and potentially creating a mess. The easiest thing to do is work with the outside tail. Also, something to remember is there are larger skeins of yarn that gives you enough for a blanket, such as A Pound of Love by Lion Brand. This is a squishy soft yarn and I use that from the outside not the inside. When worked from the inside it could become a hot mess. It can collapse on you and then you would need to take time to untangle, and you don’t want to do that, I’m sure.

The next time you are either in a craft store or your LYS (Local Yarn Shop) look at the different yarns, sizes and feel the yarn for softness, roughness or scratchiness depending upon what it is made out of. Don't just be fixated on those pretty colors.

Now your LYS (Local Yarn Shop) has all three yarns usually (skein, ball, hank). The ball and skein you need not do anything with it but start your project. But the hank there is another step that needs to be done. Sometimes if someone comes in to purchase yarn and they buy a hank they might not always ask if you need it to be wound into a cake form for easy use. Using a hank without being wound is a true disaster that you really don’t want to experience and depending upon the yarn you purchased it can be costly. If you are into old movies of the 70’s and back you might remember seeing someone holding bent arms up as yarn is placed around those arms and another person is winding the yarn into a ball from it. Or you might remember your grandmother doing that using the back of a chair or some other sort to hold the yarn as it is wound in a ball. We don’t have to do that anymore. Some still do if they don't have the tools and that's fine. There are though two tools that are used called a swift and ball winder. My ball winder is a manual model. The yarn shop that I worked at there was an electric ball winder which really made it easy and fast.

To avoid frustration you always want to remember to ask for the hank to be wound and the yarn band to be included. You should keep one yarn band for each yarn you purchase. This has very important information on it, especially if you didn’t get enough yarn for your project and you need to get more. We can’t rely on our brains to remember all the details of our purchase. Because I work on multiple projects, one way I control my yarn for each project is cut a piece of the yarn and tape it on the yarn band and I include the name of the project. But this is for the future when you have more than one project going. Make it easy on yourself because it is going to get harder as we venture out and our yarn stash grows as well as our desire to make more projects. The excitement of pattern finding can be endless even when you are a beginner because there are so many resources. You have to learn tips and tricks from those that started out in controlling their yarn stash and projects. Because if you come to really enjoy your craft the words will come out: What happened, or I looked around one day and it just happened. No worries, you will figure it all out. Just keep having fun with what you love to do.


  1. Hi Cheryl! We met at Deep Cut. I want to start knitting too- this guide looks super helpful, thank you!!