Centerpull, not Centerfold

I wager our Great-Grandmothers would feel right at home at Espace Tricot when it comes to the put up of the yarns. Most of our yarns come in hanks and need to be wound into balls before knitting. I have met one or two knitters who were using the yarn straight from the hank without winding, however, this is not something I would recommend! Usually you end up with a big tangled mess that takes forever to undo. I myself remember winding yarn from hanks in the 80’s, together with my Mom I did spend quite a few hours doing just that.

Winding yarn can be a contemplative exercise, your thoughts can stray pleasantly to all the possibilities hidden in the strands of fiber, maybe a hat? a sweater? a shawl? will come into existence once you are done with the work. I have to admit, when I have a particular scrumptious yarn, I do like to wind by hand, otherwise I prefer using mechanical help.

The lucky knitters among us (I am one of them) have an umbrella swift and a yarn winder right at home, for the ones who do not we do offer to set you up for winding your hanks into balls (or yarn cakes, doesn’t that sound good?) at the store, I recommend doing it yourself, it is good to know how!

What you get when you remove your little ‘cake’ from the winder, is a ball that you can either begin using from the outside, or you can start knitting from the inside, making it a ‘centerpull’.

There are advantages to both – using yarn from the outside prevents the ball from getting flimsier and collapsing once you have used a lot of the yarn, then again, when pulling more yarn the ball might roll away. Which it would not do when the yarn is pulled from the inside, but there’s a slightly larger danger of tangling and said collapse when most of the ball is used up. Using yarn from the outside or centerpull is built on preference – do as you like, there is no set rule!

This post is for those of you who do not have a swift and ball winder at home but love to use their yarn centerpull. Yes, there is a way to wind a centerpull ball at home – just with your hands. As with everything you can buy a tool to help, it is called a Nostepinne, but I do without. Instead, I use my thumb. Whatever else do we have them for, eh?

Start with winding the yarn around your thumb, leaving a tail of about 6″. Do not wind too tightly, a blue thumb is neither comfortable nor pretty!


Then start winding your yarn diagonally. The trick is to shift the yarn around your thumb so you can wind all around, all the while making sure to leave the end hanging.


Continue winding. Round and round, keeping your thumb inside the ball, until you have wound all the yarn.


I hate to admit it, but this is all there is to it. It takes some practise, but even if your balls do not look very pretty at the beginning, you will definitely be able to use them as a centerpull – which was the objective in the first place.


Happy Knitting, as ever!

– Mona

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