I’ve made some hand wound center-pull balls lately while traveling. I prefer yarn cakes, but it made for one less thing to do before I hit the road, and it is kind of zen to do it. I’ve refined my technique a bit, using a yarn label or folded paper to wrap the yarn around while working the yarn into a center-pull ball. I’ve had better results, although not perfect. It does make it easier to not crush the center and all you have to do is be sure you can remove the label/paper at the end.
Step by step instructions for a hand-wound center-pull ball. If you are winding from a hank, put the yarn on a swift, over the back of a chair, over your flexed feet, or over an assistant’s upheld hands before you untie it. There is no right end; just try to pick the one that seems like it will unwind with the greatest ease for you.
Set Up to Create the Center-Pull Ball
Step 1 – Begin wrapping the yarn loosely around your slightly parted left (or right) index and middle fingers while holding the yarn end against the middle finger with your thumb. Always allow that short tail to stay free from the winding (that is your center-pull!).
Step 2 – Wrap 4 or 5 feet of yarn around your fingers then remove the wrapped yarn by pinching it in the center and removing your fingers.
Form the Ball
Step 3 – Hold the yarn circle against your first two fingers with your thumb over the tail. Loosely wrap the yarn around your two fingers and thumb, keeping the yarn tail free. Wrap another 4 or 5 feet of yarn.
Step 4 – Remove your thumb and fingers and turn this little bundle, holding your thumb over the yarn tail, and begin wrapping again, going over your thumb so the yarn is loosely wrapped.
Step 5 – Slowly turn the ball so that the yarn is being evenly distributed, keeping the center tail under your thumb. Continue winding, keeping your thumb over the center tail and turning the ball. Do not wind tightly.
Step 6 – When all the yarn is wound, tuck the outside end under the yarn wraps on the outside of the ball.
Step 7 – Pull the tail in the center.
Sometimes it is hard to get the center out and it means you wound it a little tight. Dig in there and pull out the center-most part of the ball. Don’t worry. You will soon knit up that yarn.