Friday, October 21, 2011

Center-pull Balls

I always rewind any wool I buy. Naturally this is required with hanks and skeins, but I even rewind the ones that are already in ball-form (usually they aren't really center-pull). For use in my kit bag, I need a center-pull ball that doesn't need to turn itself around in order to deliver its little line of loveliness to me.

If you are going to knit two-at-a-time socks, you'll need 2 center-pull balls, of course.

The good news is, in order to create a center-pull ball, you don't need any equipment. Other than your hands! But, that means you have to finish the job all at once, and you can't stop halfway to answer the phone or cook dinner. So be warned.

Here's how to do it, equipment free. This video doesn't show what to do with the hank/skein, though. My advice: hang it around the back of a chair so it doesn't turn into a tangled mess as you're winding it off. Or, sit on a chair and lay it across your lap, with your knees poking through the center of the hank. Or better yet, recruit someone to stretch the skein over their two hands to help you out.

If you have a 100gm hank or skein that you are trying to divide into 2 balls, invest in a cheap kitchen scale ($25 or less). Weigh the wool before starting, and then periodically reweigh to see if you've got halfway yet. Beats counting windings.

After a few tries at this, I quickly discovered that I wanted a yarn swift to hold the skein and turn it, so I didn't have to flap my arms around the chair or my knees. (I could never convince my husband or kids to volunteer to hold the skein...) So that's technical improvement #1. There are lots of different yarn swift models, from the expensive-but-nice "umbrella" types to cheap homemade ones. Google is your friend here. They all work just fine.

[my fairly inexpensive swift. Notice I use clothespins to keep the hank from liftig off.]

Then you can invest in a nostepinne (or a thick stick or a toilet roll) to replace your thumb as a winding tool. I had my father make me one for christmas, and I really like it. Somehow there's pleasure in learning how to use old-fashioned equipment, isn't there? Here's how to use it.

If money is no object, you can spend big bucks and get yourself a ball-winder.

[ball winder from]

This is great if you wind large quantities of wool; it produces beautiful flat "cakes". And here's how to do that...I must admit that I do not have one of these. I'm not sure I need one.

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