Three Tricks For Winding Slippery Yarn

In my small kit club, Lola's Choice, we recently knit up the most perfect summer shawl called Itbe. Itbe is knit up in a beautiful and unusual cotton tape yarn from DanDoh, Yumiko Alexander’s Japanese yarn line. 

This yarn is incredibly unique! It is slippery yet crispy; fine but irregular. It’s delightfully organic, and when it’s knit up it has the look of ice crystals on a frozen pond: geometric but imperfect. Just like nature herself! 

I couldn’t wait to get working with it. So naturally, I put it on my yarn winder right away and started balling it up.

Although my skein looked fine at first glance, within a few moments of taking it off the winder it had turned into a hot mess! The center of the ball completely collapsed and fell out, leaving a tangle of yarn knots in its wake. Ugh!

Borked Yarn

Since I love to save you pain and heartache whenever I can, I wanted to share my best tricks for winding slippery yarn. If you take a little extra precaution, you can avoid hours of untangling. Read on!

Laura’s Top Three Tips for Winding Slippery Yarn

Woman holding slippery yarn wound three ways

1.  Hand wind. Sometimes the best solution is the simplest one! Watch this video for a great hand winding technique. 

2.  Use a Winderfull, a flexible core made specifically for this purpose. As a person who winds a lot (and I mean A LOT) of yarn, this has been a worthy investment that makes this task much more efficient. I reviewed the Winderfull with my cat’s help a few years ago. 

3.  Use a cardboard toilet paper roll on your yarn winder. This will create a solid core for the yarn to wrap around.

For all of these techniques you want to make sure you’re putting a good amount of tension on the yarn as it winds. That's the trick for getting a tight ball.

With wool, I discourage pulling on the yarn as you wind it, since you can stretch it out and affect your gauge.  But not so with cotton yarn!  Cotton doesn’t have the characteristic elasticity that wool does, so you don’t have to worry about stretching it out.

If you follow these tips, yarn winding success will be yours!  Because nobody wants to be detangling yarn when they could be knitting instead!

A yarn ball that is a hot mess

One last tip: Once your yarn is balled up and ready to knit, make sure to get out your wooden needles! Metal needles are way too slippery with this yarn, and will result in lots of accidentally dropped stitches. Wooden needles provide just the right amount of friction to slow down and grip the cotton yarn.

Do you have other tricks for winding slippery yarn? Let me know in the comments! I love learning from you!

And if you're wondering about my small kit club, Lola's Choice, you can read more about it here.  We ship a surprise project to your doorstep every other month and it's load of fun!

If you're interested in just the Itbe pattern you can find that here.

Happy knitting!

Woman wearing a lace cotton shawl

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