Home » How to unwind a hank of yarn tutorial

How to unwind a hank of yarn tutorial

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.

How to unwind a hank of yarn tutorial - yarn hank into yarn ball

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. How to unwind a hank of yarn tutorial - kraeo yarn hank

1. Unfold the hank by taking the two ends and separate them. Remove any tags or labels.

How to unwind a hank of yarn tutorial - unwind a hank

2. Untwist the yarn and lay flat.

How to unwind a hank of yarn tutorial - unwind a hank heart shape

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.

How to unwind a hank of yarn tutorial - cut the knots

4. Place two chairs with the backs against each other. Wrap the yarn around the chair back.

How to unwind a hank of yarn tutorial - wind a ball

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.

How to unwind a hank of yarn tutorial - from hank to cake with yarn winder


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)!

To The Point Shawl made with hand dyed Kreao yarn

Free crochet patterns



  1. This is helpful to me Wilma. I got excited over some beautiful yarn from Hobium and bought plus size sweater quantity’s of it.When it arrived it was not skeins like I expected. I don’t have a yarn winder or swift and I didn’t know what to do.

    I’ve been a follower since 2017. I fell in love with the gift poncho!

  2. So my young friend when Are you coming back to Nevada? Northern this time and I will take you to San Francisco……

  3. Hey Wilma,

    Goede uitleg. Heb ook al wel eens een streng garen opgewonden en heb er nu weer een stel liggen. Handgeverfd garen is erg in de mode vind ik. haha. Ik word er ook heel erg blij van.
    mooi garen trouwens. haha.
    Fijne avond.

    lieve groetjes,

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