Why a hank?

Why do some yarns come in a hank rather than a skein? I’m beginning to suspect it is so the hank-producers can laugh maniacally in their evil lairs…

I’ve never had a problem dealing a skein, but absolutely every single hank I’ve ever put my hands on turns into a ridiculous knotted mess while I try to roll it into a center-pull ball. It unwinds in silly ways, there are random pieces tied together with matching yarn, it’s madness!

So…why is it, exactly, that some yarns are wound into hanks rather than skeins…and how in the heck do I roll them nicely into balls, there’s gotta be a better way.

This random thought brought to you by…the mound of yarn on my bed

Supposedly, yarn is kept more loosely in hanks, which is less stressful to the fiber. That’s why some advise not to wind yarn into balls until use.

Of course, yarn manufacturers may just be in cahoots with swift manufacturers.* :teehee: Then again… they’re probably just sadistic.

*As you may have gathered, using a swift is the easiest way to deal with hanks. Some KH’ers have been known to use creative alternatives such as swivel chairs and lamp shades. It’s nice to have something that rotates, but you could also just drape it over a chair or your knees or whatever to keep it from tangling.

i think it also helps that it is prettier in a hank too! I am way more likely to buy it if it is a hank rather than a skein…i just like the way it looks (though it was an subconscious thing until recently.)

I don’t mind when yarn comes in hanks at a LYS, as I’ve never had a problem having the yarn store wind the hank into a ball for me. However, I’ve not purchased certain yarns at Knitpicks because they were in a hank and I don’t have a ball winder and swift! I thought about putting the winder/swift on my Xmas list, but there are so many other knitting notions I’d rather have and would use more often. Maybe someday when I have unlimited income… !!

I don’t think I’ve ever had a hank at home so far that hasn’t turned into a total snarl, no matter how careful I’ve tried to be. I spent hours last weekend unsnarling two different former hanks. Which is why I think I’m going to have to take the plunge and get a swift…

Well, SUPPOSEDLY (ha!) hanks can be packed away in less room than a wound up ball of yarn. (Yeah, right.)

I’ve had a swift and a ball winder for some time now. Maybe because I do spinning, and this was just an easier way for me to deal my handspun. I have an antique creel which I also use a lot.

The swift I chose was that metal one (with some plastic on it, but not entirely). The ball winder was just the cheapest model out there. One thing I can’t understand though. Why do people like a center-pull ball? I always have trouble with that because it collapses on itself when I get to a certain point. :shrug:

Give me the outsider ball!

I have noticed that about center pull balls too. Mine always end up in a mess by the time I get to the end.

[color=indigo]I’m with you all the way! :cheering: At a certain point I have unwind the center pull ball and rewind into an outsider ball so it doesn’t tangle. A small container next to my knittin’ station keeps the balls from rolling all over the floor.[/color]

Yeah, i’m not a fan of the center pull ball either. I’m an outsider too! :slight_smile: I have a little cloth-lined basket that is my current-knitting-project basket. The balls just sort of roll around in in there while i’m knitting but it’s small enough that it’s not a problem. Also, it’s great when i’m going somewhere - i just grabe the basket and i’ve got everything i need!

As for hanks, i’ve wondered the same question!

I don’t have a swift, but i wrap the hank around one of the pillows from my bed. It’s just wide enough that the hank doesn’t move anywhere and i can keep control of it while winding (without the use of someone else’s hands holding it!).


If anyone is in the market for a nice-looking swift at a great price, I’m very happy with this one. It’s hand made and folds up really compactly for storage. The arms seem a wee bit wobbly to me, but for all I know that’s typical. (The only other swift I’ve used was a vintage metal one and it was considerably less stable.) At any rate, I’ve been very pleased with its performance. The shipping was really fast, and the price, especially for something handcrafted, is pretty unbeatable – $36.70 shipped, US. He only has one listed now, but swifts seem to be his specialty so I’m sure he’ll be listing more shortly. I have no affiliation with this guy, but I thought I’d share my experience in case others were interested. With 100% positive feedback, it looks like his other customers really like his swifts as well.

Oh, wow! Thanks for posting that link… I showed it to DH and we can definitely come up with something like it in our shop (he’s thinking it might need a bearing of some sort to rotate easily).

Hmmm… if we do it and it works, maybe I should advertise! :teehee:

I like center pull balls. I guess I like how they stay put. Pulling from the outside means the ball has to bounce around, or you need a bowl to put it in to keep it from bouncing around.

The first hank I tried to wind by hand became a horrible tangled mess. And one other since then. But all others I’ve been able to do just be laying the hank across my lap and winding that way. I pull out several lengths of yarn first and then roll it into a ball, rather than rolling directly from the hank in my lap. Especially for lighter weight or stickier yarns, it’s easier to do it that way.

Here’s some instructionsfor a home-made swift built by a fellow KH’er. I was going to try fashioning one myself, but when I saw the ebay one, I scrapped my plans. The price was too good, and by the time I got all the components I don’t think I would have saved much. If you’ve got a shop, it’s probably easier for you folks, though. I know there are other plans floating out there on the web, too. Sorry I don’t have links anymore.

Gee, I feel sorta guilty now… please don’t take away too much business from that other guy!

Yeah, I thought of that as I posted it! No worries… not sure when we’ll get around to this anyway…

Thanks for the link. How clever and resourceful! I’ve sent DH the link too…!