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How To Hand-Wind Yarn From A Skein

Blog » World Travels » How To Hand-Wind Yarn From A Skein

How To Hand-Wind Yarn From A Skein

Liat Gat - Founder

June 16, 2011

If you buy a hank (sometimes called "skein") of yarn and they don't wind it into a ball for you at the store, you'll need to do it at home. IF you don't have a swift or ball-winder, here's how to do it by hand.

First, the goods: my first video filmed in Argentina.

I bought some gorgeous yarn at a yarn store here, but they didn’t wind it for me. Voila – instant video topic!

Here’s how to take care of a hank of yarn and wind it properly at home (or abroad) without a swift or ball-winder:

ARVE Error: Mode: lazyload not available (ARVE Pro not active?), switching to normal mode

And here are some photos from my travels so far.

Mate (pronounced MAH-teh) is the ubiquitous drink of Argentina.

It consists of a dirt-cheap bag of “yerba” (pronounced “SHIER-bah” or “JIER-bah”), sometimes with sugar added, steeped multiple times in almost-boiling-hot water, and sipped through a “bombilla” (pronounced bom-BEE-shah) – a metal straw with a filter at the bottom. Or injected directly into the vein, as it would almost seem!

Here is a hot water dispenser for mate at the bus station. Since almost everywhere in Argentina is about 20 hours away by bus, you wouldn’t want to go into withdrawal halfway through the journey! Better fill up…

A mate being shared among friends

After a tough start in a new town, you can imagine my relief when I found this…

And bought this!


Then, after venturing far into the “zona roja,” or “red zone” (not at night), I found this!

It says, “If You Knit, Knit With Nube!” I was sold. I came back the next day to explore the store.

And bought three skeins of this!

It wasn’t as cheap as I had expected (about US $10 per skein), but today I saw a lanarí­a (a yarn shop) on my way to Spanish class, so I’m going to go check out what they have.

So before I sign off, here’s one last photo, from filming day on the roof of the hostel in downtown Mendoza. When I walked back up after retrieving something from the room, I was struck by my workspace. How crazy and beautiful to be here!

Life Doesn't Suck!

I’ve just moved into an apartment here, with a guy who doesn’t speak a word of English. He’s a med-school student who used to play soccer (fútbol) professionally. Whee!

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17 thoughts on “How To Hand-Wind Yarn From A Skein”

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  1. I used a pair of short, but heavy, candle holders set on a coffee table to hold the untwisted skeins. They worked nicely with some sport weight yarn.

  2. Hi there! I could have sworn I’ve been to this website before but after reading through some of
    the post I realized it’s new to me. Anyhow, I’m definitely glad I found
    it and I’ll be book-marking and checking back often!

  3. We are headed to South America soon. My friend here (Las Vegas, NV) told me about the yarn district. I can’t wait to check it out. Great video you did on windin the yarn!!!!
    Thank you.

  4. Hi there! I just bought a beautiful skein of local Alpaca yarn in Hobart, Tasmania and googled ‘how to wind a skein into a ball’. Your video appeared and I now have a tangle free ball and one sock cast on. Thank you!

  5. Wish I had watched the ball winding video before trying to wind a skein of lace weight wool yarn into a ball. Yikes! What a mess and it took hours to work through all the twists and turns so I didn’t have to cut (or yank) apart the yarn. I have one question — and maybe it would make a video — how did you decide what to take with you to Argentina? When I went to Germany a few months back I could not decide which knitting projects to take along and what yarn so ended up taking more knitting (yarn + patterns + needles, etc.) than I did clothes. And of course I had to buy local as I traveled about, which really created a problem packing to go back to the U.S. So how much did you bring with you to Argentina and how do you decide WHAT to bring. Enjoy your instructional videos. They have been a big help. Thank you much! Diana

    1. Diana, I know exactly what you mean! I hardly brought any yarn to knit with, since I knew I’d just be making tutorial videos and I also knew I was going to the Malabrigo factory. I did have a fingering-weight sock project with me, which was handy and small. As far as needles, I brought 47-inch circulars in size 2, 5, 7, 9, and 10 1/2, and straights in sizes 5, 7, 9, 11, and 15. With those needles you can pretty much knit anything. I hope this helps!

  6. Shelagh-Ann Hedges

    How well I remember winding wool into a ball in the “old days” when it was always sold in a skein. We used to hook it over our own wrists as you did when you were straightening it out in your video. That way we had no need to call on a husband/sister/friend to stand for hours with the yarn draped over THEIR wrists.

    BTW I like the new blog

    1. Hi Shelagh-Ann!

      What a cute story. I can just picture the less-than-willing participants standing with yarn wrapped around their wrists for hours on end. :)

      I’m so glad that you’re enjoying the new blog – thank you so much for letting me know!

  7. How beautifully done is your website. Just a small detail, where I come from the pretty pink thick and thin yarn in your video is wound/twisted into what we call a “hank”. The skein is wound in a pattern without first making it into that circle of yarn which forms a hank. BTW your videos are so well done: the lighting, sound and program are excellent.

    1. Hi Susan! I never knew the difference between “skein” and “hank.” Thank you! And I’m SO glad that you like my videos! Yaaay!

  8. I happily stumbled across your blog. I enjoyed your post regarding your adventures and I am so glad that you shared. I am an avid tea drinker and I plan to see if I can find a Bombilla, how cool would that be??? I am such a nerd. I am excited for you on your travels. Be safe and knit knit knit!

    1. Hi there! I’m so glad you found me! (How did you find me, by the way?) I love tea, too. I think the only problem with using a bombilla with tea is that the tea would get really strong after a while. But they’re still awesome! I’m sure you can find one on the internet! If you want, I’ll get you a really pretty one and send it to you!

  9. Hi Liat,
    Just started reading your blog and love it – your enthusiasm for knitting and life really comes through! Enjoy your stay in Argentina – you will make memories that will carry you through the rest of your life. Looking forward to reading more of your adventures….

    1. Hi Cynthia! Welcome to KNITFreedom! I’m so glad you’re following me! I am loving Argentina (the challenges and the joys), and have already created two new patterns (it’s COLD here!) to share. Thanks for commenting!

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