NOTE: This tutorial is just one in our Learn To Knit series of tutorials. If you’re a beginner, be sure to visit these other helpful links…

Lots of yarn comes in the form of a skein, also known as a hank. A skein (or a hank) is a big loop of yarn twisted into a coil. It’s critical to know that before you can knit with yarn that’s in a skein, you have to wind it into a ball, otherwise, it will end up in a very tangled mess!

Winding a Skein into a Ball | Purl Soho

Why does yarn come in a skein in the first place, you may wonder… Mostly it’s so you can really get to know the yarn before you knit it. In a skein, you can feel the yarn’s drape and softness, its weight and texture. Also, storing yarn in a ball over a long period of time can stretch out its natural fibers, not good! And so, here’s how to transform your skein into a ball…

Winding a Skein into a Ball | Purl Soho

First, unfold the skein so it is one big loop. Examine where the skein is secured to make sure that everything is tidy and no strands are astray. If you have a buddy who can hold the loop around his or her hands, that’s easiest. If not, try the back of a chair, your bent knees, or even your feet!

Winding a Skein into a Ball | Purl Soho

Snip the yarn that is holding the skein together, and finding an end, wrap the yarn around your hand a few dozen times. Slip the yarn off your hand, keeping it neatly contained.

Winding a Skein into a Ball | Purl Soho

Now firmly holding the beginning of the ball, wind the yarn perpendicular to the first wraps. Include your fingers, and wind until your hand feels full.

Winding a Skein into a Ball | Purl Soho

Slip your fingers out, grab the bundle of yarn, and wind around your fingers again, perpendicular to the last wraps. Continue in this manner until you have a ball!