To Wind or Not to Wind – that is the Question?

I have had many students ask me – should I wind my skeins into balls? Does it really matter? Yes it matters. So much, that I thought the subject required some investigation on my part. After all, I don’t want to lead anyone down the wrong path in the yarn jungle. I approached this like I do with most things in my life, by gathering information and then making a list of pro and cons.

When I am unsure of something the first place I usually go to is to an expert. I called Red Heart yarn, who strongly advised against rolling your skeins into balls. Their reasoning was that most people will roll the yarn to tight and it will loose some of it’s elasticity. I am in agreement- I could see where this would be a problem with some people.

Lion Brand Yarn has a web page telling you how to wind a center pulled strand into a ball. The link is include below:


After spending time researching on-line sites, and ransacking my library for other opinions, and going full circle I was brought back to my original question. I have come to the conclusion that there is no definitive answer, as with most things it is a personal preference.

I have noticed over the years some advantages to rolling your skeins into balls. This is a list of the pro’s.

If you are having trouble with tension, sometimes rolling your yarn into balls can help when you are crocheting. The yarn comes off a ball a lot gentler, than it does from a skein. This will definitely help some people with their tension.

I always try use the center pull strand when I start to use any skein of yarn whenever I am rolling the yarn into a ball or for crocheting. Sometimes, I have noticed that in the beginning the yarn does not come out as easily. In this stage I keep a close eye on my work to make sure there is consistent, even stitches.

It also helps to keep the yarn from tangling ;

It helps to alert me to any surprises with the yarn before I start working with it. For example when the yarn is tangled inside the skein or is gradually being tied together with a series of knots.

There are also some disadvantages to rolling your skeins into balls. Below is a list of the con’s.

You may be one of those people who roll the yarn into really tight balls producing more wear and tear on your yarn fibers then you might like. This would validate Red Heart and their concerns. Winding the yarn too tight might cause it to lose its elasticity.

I have also heard people complain, that the once the yarn is rolled into a ball it will not sit still. It has a way of rolling around or across the floor.

I have heard some people say it is to time consuming. They do not have enough time to crochet, let alone take the time to wind their skeins into balls.

My conclusion:

I personally think it is relaxing to have a ball of yarn in my hand. While I gently roll the yarn it is soothing and restful for me. I love the feel of the yarn as it glides through my fingers. The process also gives me a chance to get the feel of the yarn before I work with it. It also gives me a chance to make sure it is not full of knots and tangles. Which is something I do not like to deal with in the middle of working a project.

To be perfectly honest, I do both. If it is a yarn that I have worked with in the past and I know it has a tendancy to tangle easily – I will take the time to roll it into a ball. I basically take the time to roll all my skeins into balls unless it is a really large one of eight ounces or larger. I tend to leave them in the skeins because once it is in a ball it will not smoothly fit into my crochet bag when it is rolled into larger balls.

Winding a Skein of Yarn into a ball tutorial

1. I will pull the yarn from the center if possible.


2. Take four fingers and wrap the yarn around your fingers around until you get around 10 strands. (pictured above)


3. Take the yarn off your fingers and fold it in half and place the folded yarn between your thumb and pointer finger. (pictured above)


4. Holding the folded yarn tightly, you take the loose yarn and start winding it slowly around. (10 strands) (pictured above)

Note: Keep the yarn loose. When you are at the beginning, it’s fairly common to wind the ball too tightly. When this happens, the yarn is to taut, which could cause it to lose some of its elasticity if left too long.


5. Turn the ball in the opposite direction and start winding it slowly around. (10 strands) (pictured above)

Note: Just lay the strands side by side.  I usually do not wind more then 10 or 15 strands, depending on the size of the ball.


6. As you are rolling try to maintain the ball shape by winding 10 or 15 strands in one direction and then rotating the ball and winding 10 stands in that direction.


7.  Repeat step 6 until you have a nice round ball.

So for the debate of should I take the time to roll my skeins into balls? I have decided that from now on my students will be taught both positions and I will give them the choice.  I know it sounds like I am not taking a side. Yet everyone I talked to, and the more information I took in, there was no conclusive answer. Both sides had equally good points. So weigh the pro and cons, there is no wrong answer.  I would love to know what you decided in the great debate; “ To wind or not to wind.”

Until next time, keep those hooks flying.


About crochetwithpassion

I have been certified through the Craft Yarn Council both in teaching and Instructor. I also have been teaching people to crochet for over fifteen years. This is what I will be doing through this blog. In the Crochet Master Class there are 18 projects. Some of the projects will be familiar to me such as Hairpin Lace; Tunisian Crochet; Filet Crochet; Double Ended Crochet; painted Crochet; Aran Crochet and Irish Crochet. However there are several in the book that are new and have peaked my interest and that includes the following: Woven Crochet; Tapestry Crochet; Entrelac Crochet; Fashion Crochet; Tassels; Bullion Stitch; Overlay Crochet; Bead Crochet; Bruges Crochet; Free-form crochet and Wire Crochet. Since Crocheting is a time consuming craft I will only be posting once a week. If you are like me and love to crochet but would really like to challenge yourself to go beyond what you are now doing, come along with me and move to the next level. Although the actual patterns will not be posted (copyright law) I will take you through each project and go through the process of each one. This is not a blog about free crochet patterns or selling crochet tools. What I would like to do is take you with me on the journey through this book as I learn and crochet each of 18 projects. I will attempt to crochet each project in the book, and in the process recording in detail my progress and the problems I encounter along the way and the process I went through to accomplish each project. I am hoping that you will not only learn from my experience but that it will inspire you to push yourself to the next phase in your crocheting skills. Until next time; keep those hooks flying.
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5 Responses to To Wind or Not to Wind – that is the Question?

  1. KerryCan says:

    I’ve done very little crocheting or knitting and didn’t bother to wind the yarn into balls but I think, if I ever get serious about these crafts, I would roll. Partly because you give good reasons for it and partly because I just like the way balls of yarn look, sitting in a basket!

  2. Linda Hicks says:

    Pamela, my one problem is deciding which end of the yarn to look for the loose strand to begin rolling. It would be helpful if the yarn manufacturer would give an indication where to look. I like rolling them into balls also. The trick of folding the first 10 in half was a good suggestion. Thanks as always for your posts.

  3. Kerry and Linda, I am so glad you both found this post interesting. I also love the way yarn looks all neatly stacked in a basket. Linda – I wrote the instructions for you on how to find the ends of your skeins. I hope it answers all your questions. Here is the link: How to find the ends of your skein

  4. How to find the ends of your skein

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