Yesterday during the attack of Life that kept me from blogging, I did
find a minute to answer a question about winding balls from hanks. I
tried my best to describe how to do it, but was very frustrated not to
be able to show how. So this morning The Small Child and I dug out some
scrap yarn and took some pictures.

by spreading out the fingers of your left hand (right hand if you’re a
lefty). Stash the free end (as opposed to the end attached to your
hank) between your index and middle finger.

Wind the yarn in a figure 8 around your thumb and little finger until you’ve got a hefty butterfly going.

Once it’s too big to wind this way, take it off your fingers and fold
it in half. Note that I’ve still got the free end between my
fingers. The end that I’m winding is hanging down in front.

Now hold the folded butterfly in your left hand, with your finger sort
of encapsulating the thing. (When I teach kids to do this, I have them
think about holding a baby bird in a sugar cage.) Winding your yarn
around your fingers, begin to build up a ball. Wind a bit in one
direction, then shift your grip and wind in another.

The goal is to make a very soft, squishy ball so that the yarn isn’t
flattened or stretched out. When my fingers are full (like in the
photo above), I pull my fingers out, rotate the ball in my left hand
and start winding again in a different direction.

Eventually the ball will outgrow your grip size and you won’t be able
to fit it between your fingers as you wind. Don’t worry. Continue to
wind LOOSELY until you’re through, preferably over at least one finger
to introduce extra "give" into the wind so the yarn isn’t stressed. If
you want to use the thing as a center pull, avoid capturing the free
end as you wind. (It’s just above my thumb in the photo
above). Keep going until you’ve finished.

The end product. A nice fluffy ball. You can see the center
pull end trailing off past my thumb, and the outside end trailing off
the bottom.

Even though I have a ball winding machine, I wind more than half of the
yarn I use this way, mounting the hanks on my swift, but making the
balls by hand. The biggest exception is lace weight yarn.
Anything that comes in hanks of more than 700 yards is going to take an
eon and a half to wind by hand. That’s worth hauling out the
winder and wrestling it into submission.

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