Tag Archives: ball

Christmas (in July) Balls

I’ve been knitting up a storm lately- but unfortunately (or, if you look at it another way, fortunately) it’s mostly been “work knitting.”  Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m beyond thrilled that I can count myself as a “professional knitter,” but sometimes I long for the day when I could just knit whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted without deadlines or due dates.

(Woe is me, right?)

I’m crazy busy, but whenever I have a few minutes free, I’ve been slowly chugging away, working on a project just for me.  It’s fun, it’s straightforward, and it doesn’t require me to do any math! Woo!

Since I got Arne & Carlos’ book 55 Christmas Balls to Knit, I’ve dreamed of a Christmas tree covered in their adorable red and white ornaments.

I bought a big bag of red and white yarn in January, and I’ve slowly been making my way through the book.So far, I’ve completely finished 3 balls, stuffed 6 more, and have one freshly off my needles.

They’re quick little projects- it takes me an evening to knit up a ball (not including finishing).  And, its great to be able to just follow a pattern, knowing that it’ll turn out great.

Have you been working on any “just for fun” projects lately?

Pattern Spotlight: Christmas Balls

Have you guys ever come across Arne & Carlos?  They’re a ridiculous pair of Swedish/Norwegian knitwear designers.

They design ridiculously amazing sweaters:

Men’s Setesdal Sweater by Arne & Carlos


Adorable customizable dolls (also with ridiculous sweaters):

Knitted Dolls: Handmade Toys with a Designer Wardrobe by Arne & Carlos


And they’ve just put out an uber-charming video with instructions on making their perfectly festive Christmas Balls:

5067704452_a5c4cd9983_z[1]Just beautiful!

They’ve created literally dozens of designs for their Christmas balls, each inspired by traditional Scandinavian knitting patterns.  The balls are all worked following the same basic instructions (as outlined in this video), but each color work pattern is unique.  (Talk about a great way to practice your color work skills!)51jEZkkM8SL._SX379_BO1,204,203,200_[1]Their book, 55 Christmas Balls to Knit: Colorful Festive Ornaments, Tree Decorations, Centerpieces, Wreaths, Window Dressings, obviously has 55 different patterns.  But, they’ve got 24 patterns up for free here.  

Arne and Carlos say, in their video, that their Christmas tradition is to make a Christmas Ball each day leading up to Christmas.  I love that idea!  Maybe I’ll do it next year?  It would be like a create-your-own advent calendar!

Will you be knitting up any of these adorable Christmas Balls?

I’m Still a Baller: Winding Yarn Part 3

I want to show you one more way to wind a ball of yarn.  This one’s easier, but it takes a bit of hardware, so it may or may not be right for you.

This is a ball winder.  They cost about 45-50 bucks, depending on the brand, which is a little pricey.  If you wind a lot of yarn, it might be a worthwhile investment.  If you only go through a couple skeins of yarn a year, maybe not.  If you don’t want to invest in one for yourself, see if your local yarn store has one available for customers, sometimes they do.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMine screws to the edge of a bookshelf or table.  I’ve seen ones with handles that you can hold, but that seems like it would be awkward to use, since I don’t have three hands.

When you have your ball winder situated, thread your yarn through the little metal eyelet, and attach the end to the slots at the top of the winder.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThen start twirling the handle and watch the yarn start to wind itself into a ball.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATurning the handle spins the  top part of the winder, which, in turn, winds the yarn into a perfect cake.  Keep going, and watch the yarn build up.  Ooh! Aah!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOnce you have wound all the yarn, wrap the end around the outside of the cake a couple times and tie off the end.  Pull the cake from the winder, and you’ve got yourself a perfect center-pull ball of yarn.


I’m a Baller: Part 2

Two weeks ago, I talked about how to roll a ball of yarn the traditional way.  A regular old ball of yarn is plenty useful, but sometimes they can be a pain.  You could be working somewhere with a less-than-sanitary floor (at a bus stop), or somewhere where going after a runaway ball of yarn would be difficult (on an airplane), or perhaps an ill fate would befall your yarn if it left your vicinity (maybe you have a vicious house cat or sticky toddler?)

A traditionally wound ball of yarn can get itself rolling (and unraveling).  But, a center-pull ball doesn’t have that problem, and it’s almost as easy to wind as a regular ball of yarn.

It starts exactly the same way.  Wind a good amount of yarn into a figure-8 around your thumb and forefinger.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERARemove the figure-8 from your fingers and wind your yarn around one end of the figure-8 until it gets nice and puffy. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAKeep winding and turning around that initial puff of yarn, just like you did the regular ball of yarn.  Change directions every so often, and keep a finger or two caught in the loops to keep the yarn from getting too tight.   Just remember that the end of the figure-8 is poking out the top of the ball, like a strange little tuft of hair.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThen, when you’ve finished winding all the yarn, tuck in the end  so that it won’t unravel itself when you throw your ball in your knitting bag.  When you’re ready to start knitting, pull out the whole tuft from the top of the ball, and get to work!


I’m a Baller, And You Can Be, Too!

You’ve got your skein untied and ready to go.  What’s the next step?  Rolling your yarn into a ball.

Start by wrapping the yarn in a figure 8 around your thumb and forefinger.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFold the figure 8 in half.  (Does that make it a figure 4?  Probably not.)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThen, start wrapping around the little yarn nubbin you made from your figure 8.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWrap it snugly, not so tight that you have to put muscle into it, and not so loosely that it’ll just fall apart.  Keep going until your proto-ball gets nice and chubby.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThen, turn it 90 degrees, and hold it between your thumb and forefinger.  Wrap the yarn around the ball in the new direction, catching your fingertips as you go.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAKeep going, turning the ball  every 20 or so wraps.  Turning the ball and wrapping in different directions will give you a nice round, even ball.  Making sure that your fingers get caught every time you start wrapping in a different direction will ensure that you end up with a squishy ball of yarn.  This will stop you from wrapping the yarn too tightly, which can end up removing all the springiness from your yarn (imagine keeping a spring stored in the stretched-out position, it would eventually stick that way).

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhen you finish, your ball of yarn should be firm enough to hold its shape, but loose enough  that you can squeeze it like one of those foam stress balls.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATuck the end of your yarn around the last group of wraps, and your yarn is ready to go into storage.  Or, cast on and start knitting!

All Twisted Up: Dealing With Skeins

Let’s talk about skeins. This is a skein:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASometimes yarn is sold in skeins (instead of pre-wound balls).  Skeins are looser than balls, which allows you to see the texture and color of the yarn more accurately.  It’s also less work for the dyers and spinners, so often if you find fancy-pants yarn from some small fiber company, it’ll be sold in a skein.

But, skeins are a pain in the butt for knitters.  You get home from the yarn store with your brand-new purchase, and instead of starting to knit right away, you have to spend a half hour rolling the yarn into a ball first.  Infuriating!

But, have no fear.  Skeins are easily dealt with, as long as you exercise a little patience.

First, unloop the ends of the skein from one another.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThen carefully tease apart the skein until it lays nicely in a big ring, being sure to keep the strands from tangling.  I like to do this step on the floor to give myself plenty of space to work.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADepending on the brand of yarn, the skein will be held together by one or more (usually between 2 and 4) bits of scrap yarn.  You can cut or untie the scrap yarn, whichever is less scary to you.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThen, I to loop the whole skein over the back of a chair, my knees, or around my husband’s hands (if he’s in a helpful mood).  This will keep the big loop of yarn from tangling as I roll it into a ball.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Go slowly and be patient, and if something weird happens (like loops of yarn start flying around) stop immediately and put the loops back around the chair.  If you start getting a tangle, if you keep going it will only get worse.

Next week we’ll talk about how to roll yarn into the perfect ball.

**And a note on Swifts:  If you are a moneybags, there is a tool called a yarn swift that is specifically designed to hold your skein of yarn (instead of a chair back) while you wind it into a ball.  Some people swear by them, but I have never had an extra $65 to spend on a swift (not when I could buy yarn instead!)