Flags Tradewind Knitwear Designs by Lucy Neatby

Centre Pull Balls

These are some of my favourite things, they are so much kinder to the yarn.

I am convinced that knitting from a cannon-ball (a ball of yarn wound tightly from the middle out ) and measuring before it has had time to relax, is one of the factors that can cause misleading swatches. It is almost impossible, when winding cannon-balls, not to put the yarn under tension. Hence when you work with it, it is prestretched yarn. Over time it will relax and come back to its former length. If you, as most of us less than Saintly knitters do, measure your swatch without washing it first, you could be led badly astray.

There are other advantages, as well. Centre pull balls stay where you put them and don't splice around the legs of your chair. The balls can be kept in individual ziplock bags for travelling - just leave an opening and pull the yarn out straight from the bags. The bags stop any muddling of balls as you ferret around for scissors or other knitting paraphernalia.

For multi colour knitting projects, all the yarns can be kept in trays (cucumber boxes are great) packed in together: since you never need to take any of the balls out, you won't end up mislaying any colour and finding that you stopped using it in the design because it wasn't visible in the basket. They are a great encouragement when working Intarsia to cutting short lengths (and measuring them, too, if you choose).

My low-tech solution to winding them is toilet roll tubes (sorry if we are lowering the tone here). Place the beginning of the yarn into a nick in the top of the tube to anchor it. Wind the yarn around the tube, slowly developing an orbital pattern, so that the yarn lays diagonally across the tube. Rotate the tube slowly as you go and the yarn will build up evenly all around the tube.

When you are done, tuck the outer end under the last few wraps to secure, crush the tube and bring the end out with it. Voila! I could live without a ball winder, but please leave me my umbrella swift.

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