Why I Prefer to Roll My Yarn (Before Using It)

Four balls of Caron One Pound

Rolling my yarn into a ball is the first thing I do before starting a project. 

Rolling your yarn into balls is a practice that goes way back before there were machines to do it for you. My first introduction to yarn was through a crochet kit I received long ago. At that time I was very young and my project was an utter failure. In fact, I never finished it. But what I remember most (other than never getting an accurate stitch count) is how badly my yarn tangled using it straight off the skein. Granted I was very inexperienced and the yarn was lower quality. I quickly began rolling the yarn into balls from skeins and have been doing it ever since. I will admit, I did it mostly because it made me feel authentic. But now I have better reasons.

(Note: when referring to balls of yarn in this post I am talking about personally rolled balls of yarn and not factory-made balls of yarn that look a little like skeins.)

The Benefits of Rolling Yarn

1. Fewer Tangles

First of all, using balls of yarn solves the problem of tangles while crocheting. It also allows you to handle and deal with any tangles the machine might have inadvertently created when winding. I don’t know how many times I’ve come to the last few yards and had a ball of knots to contend with. Then again, if your skein does not have tangles, by the end the remaining yarn will be so loosely wound that it will need to be used up immediately or risk knotting when laid aside. And although the packaging may recommend the “pull from center” method, I have never been successful using it.

Crochet Yeoman Hat

2. Discover Defects Beforehand

Even the best quality yarns will at times have defects. One thing that has always annoyed me is the little knots where the machine apparently tied two ends together. If you’ve used even the smallest amount of yarn you will most likely have encountered this. There are times when I simply go on crocheting with it if I feel it won’t show in the finished piece, but this is an exception and not the norm. Instead I cut out the knot and have to join the yarn again, creating two more ends to work in later on. And oh, do I hate weaving in ends! Rolling the yarn allows you to deal with these defects ahead of time.

3. Easier to Work With

I find holding a ball in your lap instead of a skein is clearly easier to work with. When I’m trying to meet a deadline I try to crochet like the wind. I’ve often wondered if there is a way to count stitches per minute like words per minute in typing. I know I’ve worked some pretty harried speeds before. A ball just rolls easily and at such times I am so grateful for this bit of physics. But even if you aren’t in a hurry, there is ease to pulling yarn from a ball instead of an oblong skein.

Crochet Doll Blouse and Jumper

4. Get to Know the Yarns Character

A very commendable quality in a yarn is when the thickness varies, where you might have a chunkier section and then a thinner section. I find it’s always lovely to feel the integrity of the fibers slipping through your fingers. When you know you are working with natural fibers or just a good yarn, this is a sign of quality. Getting to know a yarn before you begin a project may change how you use it, for instance, the hook size or stitch pattern.

Now on the other hand and just to be fair, there are a few let downs to “always” rolling your yarn.

The Let Downs of Rolling Yarn

1. Takes Time

I’ve been very tempted at times to forgo rolling the yarn so that I can get straight to the project, and this usually is because I’m in a rush. I really hate hurried crocheting, but there are times when you really need to meet a deadline. At those times, even I will abandon my preference and work straight from the skein. In this case though, I pull from the outside, never from the middle. And yet, I still hate to sacrifice the efficiency of a good rolled ball of yarn.

Caron One Pound yarn

2. Can Cause Pain

If you are like me you can get pretty intense doing something over a long period of time. I become more and more focused on accomplishing what I am doing that I begin to speed up and tighten my muscles. Early on I realized I would have to make the conscious decision to slow down and relax as I wind. I often come out of it with tight shoulders and a stiff neck. Or if my wrist is especially sensitive, I can bring on carpal tunnel for a few days, which really sets me back in my work. But the biggest challenge are the large skeins. You know, the one’s that are so big you only need a few to make a full-sized blanket. Yes, I stick by my preference and roll these as well, but boy, do they wear me out! It becomes too much for me to hold –and yet I do it anyway. My advice to others though would be to split the one pound into smaller balls as you go in order to save your body from the wear and pain. Only I don’t because I hate to sacrifice the integrity of a good, large, round ball of yarn. Silly, isn’t it?

3. May Stretch Yarn

I’ve heard people suggest you not roll your yarn until you are ready to use it for a project very soon, posing that the irregularity of winding may stretch the yarn in select places. I have only noticed this with more delicate fibers, ones that are more wispy or fragile, for instance, mohair, silk, and even some wools. With these I wrap a ball that is very loose and squishy to the touch. And in doing so I get the best of both worlds.

Mrs. Muir Afghan closeup

But after all, this is just one crocheters opinion. I wouldn’t have anyone thinking this is the last word in crocheting. The beauty of just about any craft is the personality you yourself bring to it. Do what works for you!

So how do you like my little list? Have I given you something to think about? Tell me what you like personally in the comments below this post. I’d love to hear from you!

Share this

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *