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Skeins of Yarn vs. Balls of Yarn: What's The Difference? | Red Heart

Have you ever tried to pull yarn from the center of a skein and had trouble? You may have been trying to pull from a ball -- and balls are not wound to be able to pull from the middle. Follow this handy guide to figure out if you have a ball or a skein, what the difference is, and how to find the end.

What is a ball? What is a skein?

Red Heart has two different ways of winding our yarn: balls and skeins. In general they are used interchangeably, and usually it doesn't matter which one you say. But when it comes to using the yarn, the two styles make a difference.

Skeins are longer and more narrow, and are designed to be pulled from the center. Pulling from the center is neater overall and the yarn won't roll around. Super Saver yarn is wound in a skein.

Balls are rounder and shorter, and are not wound to have a center pull end. Many of our popular yarns such as Soft, Boutique Unforgettable, Grande, and Boutique Swanky are in balls. If you try to pull from the center of a ball you will get a tangle.

How can I tell the difference?

Skeins look like cylinders or tubes. Balls look like, well, balls. All of our skeins that can be pulled from the center have this graphic on the skein band. If a yarn doesn't have this graphic then it can only be pulled from the outside.

If you are uncertain, always just work from the outside. Yarn rolling around a little is easier to deal with than trying to undo a tangle!

How do I find the end?


To start a skein, position the skein band with the arrows facing you. Pull the yarn end out from the center of the left side.

Then slowly pull the yarn end from the center of the right side.

The one on the right side is the yarn end you will continue to use. It is important that the left yarn end be pulled free. If the end is already free continue with the second step slowly. Otherwise, it is likely the the skein will become tangled and knotted.


To start a ball, pull the ball band off and find the end. If you are having trouble locating the end, you can put your needle or hook under the top layer of wraps on the ball and lift gently to help identify the end.

Skeins of Yarn vs. Balls of Yarn: What's The Difference? | Red Heart


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