Sometimes you’ll see yarn wound up in a twisty bundle. This is called a hank.
In order to knit with it, you’ll need to unwind the yarn hank and roll it into a ball first. Learn how to do it in this post!
Unwind Yarn Video Tutorial
To start unwinding a hank of yarn, untie the yarn label. Then, untwist the hank and open it out so it looks like a big circle. It’s easiest to lay it out on the ground.
Next, locate the places where the hank has been tied. Oftentimes, there are at least three ties in a hank. Untie all of these knots and set aside the yarn ties.
One of these knots will lead into the hank. Once you find it, grab one end of the yarn and begin winding into a ball.
I like to wrap the yarn around two fingers to start the winding process.
As you wind the yarn into a ball, you may need to untangle the yarn. This happens occasionally. Just go with the flow of the yarn. If you need to duck it under another strand of yarn, just go with it. Hopefully, your hank won’t have too many tangles.
To help with unwinding, I often throw the hank over my knees. This helps to keep it neat and untangled.
You can also throw the hank over a chair back or have a friend stretch out the hank between their two hands, old-school-style, while you unwind.
Why Have Yarn in Hanks Anyway?
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 neat bundle, aka. a yarn hank!
Winding 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.”
I also find that the yarn winding experience gives me time to “get to know” my yarn before knitting with it. I can get a literal feel for the yarn, get a sense of the color changes (if it’s hand-dyed), and take note of any knots or irregularities.
Unwinding yarn is also very meditative. But then again, I’m a bit romantic when it comes to yarn!