How to Unravel a Skein of Yarn


If you purchase yarn in a major craft store, chances are it will come in a ball or skein that is ready to use immediately. If you buy your yarn in an independent yarn store or an online yarn store, however, it may come in a looser skein that resembles one long loop. You must unravel this type of yarn before you use it and wind it into a ball or else it can become horribly tangled during knitting.

Things You'll Need

  • Scissors
  • Yarn swift, two tall chairs or partner
  • Yarn ball winder (optional)
  • Unwrap the yarn skein from any packaging, such as a band or a tag, and lay it out flat in front of you so that it resembles a long loop.

  • Look for the ties that hold the yarn skein together; usually there will be anywhere from two to four of them tied in strategic spots on the skein. If the tie is just a spare piece of yarn, cut it off with scissors. If the yarn company has used the yarn from the skein to tie itself, carefully undo the knots in the ties.

  • Gently lift the skein of yarn onto a yarn swift, if you have one. If you do not, find a way to keep the yarn in its oval shape. You can do this by draping it across the back of a chair or spreading it between two chairs if it is large enough. You can also hold it around your knees if you sit "crisscross applesauce" style on the floor or you can ask a partner to hold it in his hands, pulling it taut.

  • Find one end of the yarn skein and begin to wind it into a ball shape. If you have a ball winder, feed this end through the yarn guide and tuck it into the center core, then turn the handle on the ball winder to wind the rest of the ball. If you do not have a ball winder, wrap the yarn end around your first three fingers a few times, then slide it off your fingers and wrap it around itself.

  • Gently work your way through the yarn, removing it from its original shape and winding it into a ball, until the whole skein has turned into a ball.

Tips & Warnings

  • Go slowly to avoid tangling the yarn, especially if you do not have a swift or a ball winder.

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