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Saturday, December 11, 2010

Learn from my mistakes: Hanks.

As a (relatively) new knitter, sometimes you go through projects where you don't really know what the heck you're doing, so you just try and go along and make the best of it. More than once, I've purchased yarn packaged in this manner:
This, my friends, is a hank of yarn. When you buy your yarn directly from the spinner (as I did with this pretty purple wool) they usually opt to sell them by the hank, because it's easier for them to polish up and measure their final product packaging it this way. Hanks are also prettier for displays, because they better showcase the texture and subtle qualities of the yarn. If you buy a hank though, it is NOT ready to be used for projects as is. I learned this the hard way on more than one project, and it was a mistake I wasn't willing to make again. If you try to knit a hank as is, you will spend hours and hours attempting to untie the giant knot that your yarn has become. Seriously, it's the worst.

Before you can go to work with a hank of yarn, you have to ball it. There are countless depictions of how to do this in old movies and pictures, usually involving a loved one standing by with yarn stretched over their arms. 
I've seen characters doing this so many times before but never really got what they were doing. Now I know they were saving themselves the headache of dealing with a un-balled hank.

Even if you don't have a cute dutch child on hand to help you with balling, that's ok. You can use 2 handy kitchen chairs to the same effect.  

I actually found this to be a kind of relaxing process, and it helps you get a feel for the materials you'll be working with. I've also read that it's important not to ball your yarn until you're ready to start your project, because balling stretches your yarn out some. Good to know.
The finished product! And here's a complete tutorial. Seriously, this might have been the most important lesson on knitting I ever had.

1 comment:

  1. Thank You!! I've never thought of using chairs before. A friend of mine has a HUGE traffic cone that she drops her hanks onto, and it just spins around the cone until she's done balling. Traffic cones like that are hard to come by though...

    I ball ALL my yarn before I use it. As long as you learn to ball loosely the yarn shouldn't stretch out too much. And I've found over the years that I would rather my yarn stretch a LITTLE before I knit it than stretch after I've made my perfectly fitting sweater.

    I like working from balls of yarn better anyway because they're easier to keep untangled, and they roll nicely when I'm knitting, rather than making me stop to pull out material to work with.