When you buy enough yarn to finish a project, there’s often some left over.

The alternative, however, is to not have enough yarn.  Which can be even more frustrating … especially if you’re trying to match dye lots.  Or, if you’re blessed with hand-dyed, maybe there is no more of that dye lot.

After a project, sometimes there’s just not enough of a ball left to hold its shape.  Leaving it unwound invites all kinds of tangled messes before you can use it.

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For years, I rewound yarn the way I was taught as a child.  You may have been taught the same way: wind around three or four fingers, and then slip it off and wind a ball.  You’ve probably noticed the problem with this method: when using the yarn from the center, the center tends to pop out in a clump, sometimes with more yarn than you want … and sometimes with a tendency to tangle.

Of course, a ball winder will alleviate this problem: sometimes though it’s not convenient or in the budget.  My sister, who spins, has a short dowel she uses to wind her yarn.  She makes lovely yarn balls with it.

However, I keep forgetting to look for a dowel in my infrequent trips to the hardware store.  So, I decided to improvise.

With a pencil!

Here’s the technique:

First, you wind a strand down and around the bottom.  Since this is a small ball of yarn, I didn’t use the whole length of the pencil.

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Wind horizontally next …

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Then just wind your ball …

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The yarn will slip off the pencil (or dowel), with the center loose enough to easily use.

The pencil was fine for small balls of yarn, but I needed something larger for bigger balls …

Next I tried a highlighter. Checking first to be sure it wasn’t leaking!

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Not quite ideal because the diameter was larger than optimal, and it’s a bit difficult to pull off the highlighter.

A tapered end would work better, and the ball would slip off more easily. And, inspiration struck! 💡

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One of my size 15 tips from my Denise Knitting Needles from Alpaca Direct! It’s the right diameter — more or less — and its tapered ends make sliding the ball off smooth and easy. Instead of wrapping the yarn around the end of the needle tip, I just made a U shape to start, then wound the ball.

And voila …

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