Once upon a time, I didn't have a yarn swift or a ball-winder. So I wrote a post on my old blog explaining my low-budget technique. It's still a great method if you need to wind a center-pull ball on the go, so I've revived the post and moved it to my current blog. Here's a little adKnits wisdom from 2012:
You know those awesome contraptions that easily wind your skein of yarn into a nice, neat, easy to use center-pull ball? Yeah, I don’t have one either.
Fear not! You can easily wind a center-pull ball of yarn in the comfort of your own home. Now, I’ve heard rumors of methods involving toilet paper tubes, but I don’t bother with that for two reasons:
1) Knitting and the bathroom should not mix.
2) I can’t stand clutter and junk. A toilet paper tube, even a useful one, is clutter and junk.
The method I use involves only your thumb and your skein of yarn.
To begin, give yourself a great big thumbs-up sign (motivational as well as part of the process) and hold the tail end of the yarn in your fingers.
Begin winding the yarn (still holding the tail!) around your thumb.
Don’t cut off your circulation as this defeats the money-saving purpose of this method. The doctor’s bill for a repaired thumb could buy you ten of those awesome yarn-winding contraptions.
Keep winding! You can turn the ball if winding becomes difficult, but DON’T remove your thumb.
Can you still feel your thumb? Keep holding the tail so it doesn’t get tangled!
When all your yarn is used up, remove your thumb. There should be a hole in the middle that allows the yarn to pull easily from the center.
Flex your thumb a few times to make sure it still works, then bask in the glory of your yarn-winding capabilities.
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