To Wind or Not to Wind: How to Store Yarn

It begins innocently enough. You become interested in knitting and collect a little basket full of yarn that hangs out by your couch. But as your love of knitting or crochet grows, so does your yarn collection. Before you know it, the producers of Hoarders are calling you at home, begging to feature your yarn stash on the show.

Ok, maybe it's not that bad.

But if you've moved beyond that basket of yarn, you probably need some tips on how to store your yarn for knitting and crochet. And you'll want to keep that stored yarn in tip-top condition for the next time you use it, which leads us to a question we were recently asked by a Craftsy member:

"I've been reading conflicting information about yarn storage. Some say that you must not wind a hank of yarn into a ball until you're ready to use it. Is that true?"

Loose Balls of Colorful Yarn

Photo via Craftsy member FlowerMoon

Hanks vs. yarn balls

It's really fun to use the ball winder at your local yarn store, isn't it? And it's so much easier to wind it at the store than to take the hank home, drape it over the back of a chair, and wind it yourself. But if you don't plan on using that yarn in the near future, resist the urge to use that ball winder in the store.

It's best to store yarn exactly as you purchased it -- still in a hank, for example -- when storing it for a long period of time. Sometimes we find a good deal on a yarn we love and have no immediate plans for it. If that's the case for you, don't wind it into a ball until you're ready to use it. Here's why:

Think about what happens to the yarn when you wind it into a ball. First of all, the fibers closest to the inside of the yarn are wound more tightly and are squished in there, while the fibers on the outside of the ball are not wound so tightly. In fact, there's no way to wind the ball consistently, especially if you're winding it by hand at home. This can cause the yarn to stretch out in random places. Winding the yarn into a ball and leaving it on the shelf or in storage over time can also affect the elasticity of the yarn, which changes all kinds of important things like the yarn's gauge and the drape of the yarn.

Next time you're tempted to use that winder at the store, ask yourself if you intend on knitting or crocheting the yarn soon. If the answer is no, resist winding the yarn for now.

Looking to expand your yarn stash? Don't forget to check out Craftsy's awesome collection of the prettiest yarns out there. You can even shop by color!

If you want to get even more into the nitty-gritty of yarn, add Deborah Robson's Know Your Wool class to your Craftsy classes (it's FREE!). Learning about different types of wool can help you determine the yarn's drape, which can also help you organize your yarn stash.

Do you wind your yarn into balls before storing them?

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