Sometimes you’ll see yarn wound up in a twisty bundle. This is called a hank (or a skein). In order to knit with a hank, you’ll need to unwind it into a ball first. Learn how to do it in this video!
Now, you may be wondering, why do hanks exist in the first place? Isn’t a ball of yarn good enough? Why the complication?
One reason is this: yarn dyers who dye by hand do so by looping yarn into a big circle and then dying that big yarn circle. Once the yarn is dyed and dried, the easiest way to package it is by twisting it into a bundle – that would be a hank!
Rolling the yarn into a centre-pull ball requires machinery that can be expensive and/or time-consuming whereas hanks are much easier and quicker to make.
For this reason, yarn that’s wound in hanks are perceived to be “artisanal” or of higher quality. Almost all hand-dyed yarn are sold in hanks.
Personally, I love hanks. Sure, you need to wind them up, but the yarn looks so much prettier in a hank, like it has space to “breathe.” And the yarn winding experience gives you time to “get to know” your yarn before you knit with it. But, I’m a bit romantic when it comes to yarn, so there you go!