Center-pull balls

How to make one—and why you might want to.

A center-pull ball of yarn lets you pull yarn from the center rather than the outside.

A center-pull ball of yarn being pulled

I love them because the yarn slides out easily, they don't roll around, and don't tangle when I'm knitting intarsia and have several balls on the go.

How to make a center-pull ball

You can make any ball of yarn into a center-pull ball. The main difficulty is getting hold of the end that's in the middle of the ball.

How a yarn barf happens

1. Delve into the ball to find the end. Sometimes you will find it easily, but other times you may have to pull out a clump of yarn from the center of the ball. This is affectionately known as a "yarn barf".

Inserting a mini center-pull ball into the original ball

2. You can fix a yarn barf by winding a miniature center-pull ball (see below for how to do that) and putting it back into the ball.

How to wind a center-pull ball

This method doesn't require any tools and works for practically any length of yarn.

Securing the tail of the yarn in your palm

1. The most important thing is not to let go of the tail of the yarn. Wrap it around your little finger and trap it securely in your palm.

Winding loops around your finger

2. Now, start winding the yarn loosely around your index finger—for about 10 turns.

Slipping the loops off your finger

3. Slip the loops off your finger, keeping them together as much as you can. If the yarn doesn't come off easily then try again, winding more loosely.

Winding across the loops

4. Wind the yarn across the loops a few times, keeping it loose.

Winding at different angles

5. Keep winding at different angles, in a way that keeps the ball roughly spherical.

Turning the ball for neater results

6. Once the ball is large enough, I like to turn the ball, rather than change the angle that I'm wrapping the yarn. I find it produces a neater result.

Inserting the mini ball back into the original ball

7. When you have worked through all the yarn that came out, tuck it back into the original ball with the tail poking out at the top.

Tucking in the tail thread

8. If you're winding a complete ball, as opposed to fixing a yarn barf, then tuck the outer end underneath some of the strands to secure it.

Christmas bonus

If you find a bare spot on your Christmas tree, just whip up some center-pull balls in festive colors. Stash a pair of needles in the branches and you'll have emergency knitting to hand until January!

Christmas Tree with center-pull balls of yarn dangling from it

If this article was your cup of tea...

Subscribe to our Yarn Geeks newsletter!

We will never share your e-mail address and you can unsubscribe at any time.

About YarnSub

Search for a yarn on YarnSub

YarnSub lets you find substitutes for yarns you can't get hold of.

Explore >