Most major yarn companies put up, or package, yarn in two different kinds of skeins: pull skeins and twisted skeins. Twisted skeins come in a large, loosely wrapped coil that has been folded and coiled on itself to resemble a twisted breadstick. Pull skeins are shaped like lozenges or capsules, with an end of the yarn coming out from the center. Before you begin work with a twisted skein, you'll need to roll it into a ball or pull skein. Pull skeins ideally need no preparation. You simply pull the end from the center and begin your work. Sometimes, though, the end is buried somewhere in the mass of yarn and you need to retrieve it.
- Chair back
- Empty toilet paper tube
Starting a Pull Skein
Find the strand of yarn that has been tucked into the center of one end from the outside of the skein. Pull it out to prevent it from tangling with the inner end later.
Push the thumb and forefinger of both of your hands into the center of the yarn from each end and compress the skein to open up the center space. Feel around inside the space to find a small ball or tangle of yarn.
Pull the tangle of yarn out from the end opposite where the outer end was tucked. Unroll the tangle to locate the starting end of the yarn.
Starting a Twisted Skein
Untwist and unfold the skein to open it up to form a large loop of coiled yarn. Insert both arms into the middle of the loop and stretch them apart until the yarn is taut. Snap your arms outward once or twice to straighten out the strands of yarn to make the skein easier to work with.
Slip the yarn over the back of a chair. Alternatively, hang the skein from a hook or doorknob, or recruit another person to hold it around their outstretched arms.
Locate the knotted ends of the yarn and either untie the knot or cut it off.
Thread one end of the yarn through the center of an empty toilet paper roll, allowing about 6 inches to hang free from the end. Wind the yarn from the skein around the outside of the tube, starting at the midpoint.
Continue winding the yarn around the tube until you've used up the entire skein. Rotate the roll a quarter turn after every dozen or so wraps to keep the ball of yarn evenly wound.
Pinch both ends of the cardboard tube to flatten it inside the ball of yarn. Pull it out of the center of the ball from the end where the yarn extends. Pull the yarn from the center of the skein to work with it.