DIY: How to make a center pull skein or ball for yarns

If you knit, you know how annoying it is to have a skein or a ball of yarn that you are working with roll around all of the place.

Your cat or dog might have fun with it but I know you are screaming “@%$#*?!” inside your head. Or out loud. It’s picking up dirt bunnies and hair off the floor, like velcro. Sure you can try to keep it secured in the knitting basket but it gets tangled with other yarn and pretty soon, you are pulling your hair out. Just in case there isn’t enough on the floor.

You can buy those center pull skeins if you buy yarn from stores but you have to make your own skein if you buy home spun yarns or make your own fabric yarn (What? you don’t make your own fabric yarn? Get out. You gotta check out my post on how to upcycle t-shirts into fabric yarn!)

So how do you make a “fancy” center pull skeins? Read on. I’ll also show you how to make a (no-brainer) container to keep it in.

How to make a center pull ball of yarn (plus a container)

Look at these bundles of mess fabric yarn made from old (soiled) t-shirts. Let’s make them neat and tidy by turning them into (well-behaved) skeins, shall we? (you can click on the images to enlarge.)

how to make a center pull skein_fabric yarn

First, roll up a thick piece of paper to wrap the yarn around. Or toilet paper tube will do fine also.

how to make center pull skein

1. Leave a long end of the piece out and wrap the rest of the yarn around it to secure it.
2. Wrap the yarn, up and down the tube, so you don’t end up with a fat middle. Fat belly is not good even for a skein. 😉
3. Criss cross and zig zag so you don’t end up with rings around the edge which might fall out when using it later on.

how to make cetner pull skein2

4. When you are done, take the end piece and tuck it under one of the outer strands.
5. You can wrap around it several times so it stays intact.
6. Make sure it’s tucked in nicely. You don’t want the end to unravel and get tangled up. Then, you’ll end up cursing at me and that would make me sad. :(

how to make center pull skein3

7. Take a container that you like that will fit your skein. You can decorate the outside with pretty paper or fabric…not crude like my “naked” Cuban coffee container. In my defense, I was in a hurry to upload this DIY so I didn’t get to decorate it. But you know what I mean, right? :)
8. Take a sharp razor and cut a small (or big) enough hole for the yarn to fit through.
9. Take the paper tube out carefully so as not to unravel the skein.

how to make center pull skein4

10. See how nicely the skein is behaving, just sitting there? *snort*.
11. Put the skein inside the container.
12. Pull the yarn from the center through the hole. And close the lid.

And Ta da!

center pull skein in a container

Now, you have a skein that you can pull out the yarn from the middle, and it’ll stay inside the container nicely.

I know you are asking yourself, “Why can’t I just put the ball inside a container?” Well, I’m glad you asked. The answer is….I know the answer because I tried it myself…the ball will unravel and move around inside the container like a pinball and it’ll actually make the container move around. No lie. Besides, the yarn will not come out nicely through the hole either. This way, you can put the container on the floor by your feet while you knit, sitting on your couch……with your sleeping (because she’s bored) cat on your lap.

Now, you can finally finish your afghan. Or a rug. Or a sweater for me. :)

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About Karen Lee

As a former Captain of Eco Etsy and one of the current leaders for the team, I am really excited to be hanging out with like minded team members to share ideas on how we can leave the least amount of carbon footprint.

I sell eco-handmade and vintage goodies in my Etsy shop and consult small business owners on Karen Lee Consulting where popular Etsy Starter Kit is sold. And as a retired Chiropractor, I share natural health news and green tips on Check out my past posts on Eco Etsy!


  1. Geez Luiz! I just made a crud load of T-shirt yarn in many colors and wrapped them around an empty fabric bolt. Easy storage but hard to use. Now the question is, do I undo the winding I just did and make center pull yarn….I leaning toward, heck yeah. Thanks for the tute, Karen.

  2. Instead of a piece of paper you could invest in a lovely nostepinde.

    • I happen to grab a piece of paper from my recycling bin but what is a nostepinde?

    • Well Karen, I was also curious about this “nostepinde” so I googled it… It happens to be a Scandinavian tool whose soul purpose is to CREATE a center pull ball of yarn! Whoa that’s so cool!

      I love this tutorial, Karen. I will definitely be doing this with some of my yarn balls in the future! Thanks for sharing!! :)

      • I knew there would be a tool you can buy to do this!

        But, hey, good old rolled paper would do it too, ya know?

        Thanks for googling the term (Duh! why didn’t I think of that?)

        Glad you liked the tute!

  3. Awesome sauce! I LOVE this idea!