Category Archives: Tools

How To Skein (or Reskein) Yarn for Free

Seriously, you don’t need any high tech equipment at all. You don’t need to pay your local yarn shop for the privilege of using their swift, you don’t have to shell out big money to buy a ball winder, you needn’t waste your husband’s time and hands every evening, or even become dizzy by walking yourself in a circle around the back of a chair! Skeining yarn is really quite easy. All you need is your own two hands and a nice, comfy couch. If you have a ball or cake of yarn that you want to turn into a nice pretty skein, here’s a picture-based “how-to” that will demonstrate how do it.

Start with a corporate skein (really an oblong center-pull cake):

Or a ball of yarn:

Or a cake of yarn that needs to be reskeined:

Now, what you want it to look like is this – a skein, or hank, of yarn:

First, sit cross-legged (or Indian style):

Set the ball in your lap. Unwind a couple of yards from the outside of the ball and loop it once over your knees, making sure to position it in the place where you want the yarn to wind. I’d advise letting some of the beginning of the strand of yarn hang down over your thigh, so that you don’t loose the beginning of it. Then start winding (this illustration is a good approximation):

When you get to the end of the ball of yarn, wrap both the beginning (which you’ve let hang out a bit) and the end of the yarn around the skein a few times. This keeps the large loop from tangling on itself.

Hold the yarn in both hands stretched out in front of you. Make the loop taut by pulling at either end. Then start twisting the skein into itself. Once the yarn is well-twisted (not overtwisted) bring both of the ends together and watch the center of the yarn twist automatically. Sometimes I hold the center of the loop under my chin as I bring my hands together to create a tighter twist. Here is a video demonstrating how skeining yarn works:

Pull or shake the finished skein to make it straighten out, and then you’ll have this:

Pretty! Now, keep in mind that if you want to turn a skein into a ball or cake, all you’ll need to do is reverse the process – unwind the skein, place it over your knees, and get started!


My First Project – The Knitting Jenny

Recently I discovered an old thing I’d made as a child, buried in the back of a closet at my parents’ house. It greatly amuses me so I thought I’d share. I’d forgotten completely that I’d worked with yarn at an early age. I looked it up online and after a bit of searching I discovered that what I had was a version of the famous ’80s crafting toy The Knitting Jenny.

The Knitting Jenny

I received the Knitting Jenny as a gift when I was a child of about 10, most likely from my grandmother or great-aunt. As I had already learned how to sew, I quickly threaded the acrylic yarn through the square plastic “potholder” type object, using a different colored yarn for each row so that it created a fun concentric design. Now that I think about it, this was probably supposed to be one of those rug-like objects, where you pull the yarn through and create an image out of the short, fluffy bits that pop through the top. Oh well, I wasn’t really into instructions even then.

The Potholder Thingie

I remember that I lost interest in the loom when it wouldn’t do what I wanted it to. It wasn’t very sturdy, I didn’t know what all oft he other little oddments were that went with it (pompom makers, crochet hook, knitting needles) and I was hitting my “anti-Barbie-pink” phase. Needless to say, it took another decade before I actually began knitting. I can proudly say, though, that my first “knitting” project was attempted at a much younger age.

My Knitting Jenny

I’m amazed that all of this stuff survived to adulthood, and I rather like that the knitting needles are so well-designed for small hands. Naturally, if I’d never gotten back into yarn stuff I would probably have just pitched this all, but it seems appropriate to keep it because it shows how far I’ve come. I think I’ll save this for nostalgia’s sake and for my kids to learn to knit with.