We've all been there, quietly working away when our ball of yarn mysteriously winds up under a chair across the room, having meandered around two table legs and a pet en route. Or, your project calls for two or more strands being worked at one time, and you're humming along, managing it quite well and then suddenly there's a knot the size of a tribble.
Managing your yarn during a project can be a project in and of itself. But we've gt a few tools and tricks to help you with this.
The most common and familiar tool is a yarn bowl. It's exactly what it sounds like, it's a bowl in which you place your ball of yarn. They often have channels, slits, or holes to thread your yarn through. They are quite functional and really do help keep your yarn where you put it. They also help keep the yarn from rolling around and enticing young children and pets. Yarn bowls can be made of any material that can be used to make a bowl. They also look good while functioning, which is a bonus - who doesn't love it when their tools look good and work well?
We carry a few different yarn bowls - a plastic version from Yarn Valet, locally made ceramic ones, and wooden yarn bowls that are made from exotic woods. We also carry the Yarnit(r) - what I've taken to calling a space-age yarn bowl (pictured left). It's a clear plastic sphere with a non-slip base. The picture doesn't really have anything to show you the scale of the sphere, but it's big enough for most average sized balls of yarn. The Yarnit might be just a tad more portable than a traditional yarn bowl, because it has a "lid", but it does have a certain aesthetic that some might not like as much as a traditional yarn bowl.
We recently picked up a spindle and pattern holder from Yarn Valet as well. Both of these items help with yarn management too. The spindle rotates, so as you use your yarn from the outside of the ball, the ball unwinds itself. The pattern holder is a pretty handy device, it's simply a clear tube, but the hexagonal ends keep it from rolling and allow you to read the pattern. It's also large enough that you can use it as a portable project case for your smaller projects or to hold your notions, extra needles or hooks and yarn for your larger projects. If you don't like the way your patterns get worn, torn, crinkled, and rumpled in your project bags, this will help solve that problem too.
Yarn Cozies are another option to help you manage your yarn. I've also heard them called yarn sleeves, yarn socks, and even yarn bras. They're simply stretchy sleeves that you put over your balls of yarn. It then squeezes or "hugs" your ball of yarn, helping to keep it from unraveling or getting messy and tangled. How many times has your yarn knotted itself when the end gets tangled around the working yarn? A yarn cozy would help with that problem. They're also very useful when you need to use multiple balls on the same project - like when working sleeves simultaneously or both sides of the shoulders.
We also have a number of different sized projects bags. Sometimes the easiest way to manage your yarn is to have the appropriately sized bag for the project. If you carry your sock or scarf is a giant bag, there's just more room for the yarn and tools to bounce around and tangle. If you use a small bag for your sweater, you could have a big mess when things fall out of it. I'm sure I'm not the only one who hasn't noticed a dropped a ball of yarn, only to turn around and see the yarn unwound and trailing through the house, down the steps, across the sidewalk, and into the car. Having a large enough bag could help keep you from reenacting this scenario - it's not a guarantee, but it could help.
If you're a DIYer - there are a number of inventive ways to corral your yarn. That favorite chipped teapot? Pop your yarn in it and thread the yarn out the spout. CD spindles can work as yarn spindles. Thread your yarn through the holes of a plastic bin - this is especially handy if you're using multiple colors. Binder clips clipped to the side of your favorite box or bowl works well. Fun colored or vintage colanders and berry bowls can be put to use as yarn bowls. Free standing toilet paper holders work too. Wipe containers keep your yarn covered when not in use, as do reusable plastic cups with straw holes in the lid.
Whether you find it frustrating to have your yarn run away from you, you find the organizing and planning of your projects to be part of the fun, or you simply need a gift for the yarn lover in your life, check out our yarn bowls and other organizational bits the next time you're in. You just might something useful.