Most hand dyed yarns come in beautiful hanks. A hank is the type of yarn that comes twisted in a yarn pretzel shape. Before you can work with a hank, you’ll need to unwind it first. This process is quite simple once you know what you need to do. In this photo tutorial I will show you step-by-step how to unwind a hank of yarn and convert into a ball, without the need of expensive devices such as yarn swift umbrella’s and yarn cake winders.
Why would people buy hanks in the first place
You might be wondering why you would want a hank in the first place. They require more work than ready-to-use cake versions. There are some interesting advantages:
- hanks are smaller, save space, and easier to storage
- they save shipping costs
- it allows you to see all the colors in the skein better, so you won’t be surprised by a ‘mystery color’
- some people prefer the way hanks look, for example for taking beautiful Instagram pictures
- keeping your yarn wound into balls for long periods of time can stretch out the yarn. Keeping yarn wound into hanks allows the yarn to breathe more
How to unwind a hank of yarn
Here are the steps of how to unwind a hank of yarn. The yarn on my pictures are fingering weight 100% SW merino hanks from Kraeo.
1. Unfold the hank by taking the two ends and separate them. Remove any tags or labels.
2. Untwist the yarn and lay flat.
3. You will notice the hank is secured with knots. Cut and remove the knots. If the ends of the yarn have been tied together, gently untie the knot or trim the yarn as close to the knot as possible.
4. Place two chairs with the backs against each other. Wrap the yarn around the chair back.
5. Make a ball by picking an end and winding the yarn around your fingers a few times. Continue wrapping the yarn around, moving the ball as you go to make it nice and evenly.
Products that make unwinding yarn hanks easier
If you regularly work with hanks, it might be worth checking out some products that will make this process easier. The two most popular products for unwinding hanks and making cakes are:
Yarn cake winder by Knit Picks – $19.99
This little tool transforms yarn into compact center-pull cakes that sit nicely while you work with the yarn. I personally prefer to use a yarn cake winder and can really recommend it.
Yarn Swift Umbrella by Knit Picks – $59.99
A Swift Umbrella holds your hanks in place as you wind them. Although I was able to get the job done by using chairs, next time I am going to use a swift umbrella as this will make the process easier and faster.
I hope this tutorial was useful! If you have any questions, feel free to join my Facebook Group. I created this group for you to share pictures/ progress, ask questions and to help each other out.
Oh and if you’re curious what I made with the yarn on the picture: it’s my new To The Point Shawl (free pattern)!