Yarn Bowls: What You Need to Know About Using One

Article by Emma Lane

A yarn bowl can be a great way to help keep your yarn easy to work with, especially to keep it untangled and clean. Knots can be hard to unravel, but using a yarn bowl is a great way to keep them from forming!

Learning how to use a yarn bowl can be tricky. But it’s easy once you know a few simple tricks.

Here’s what you’ll learn in this article:

  1. What is a Yarn Bowl?
  2. How Do They Benefit Knitters and Crocheters?
  3. How Do They Work?
  4. How Big are They?
  5. Why You Should Use One
  6. Why do They Have Holes?
  7. How to Pick the Right One
  8. What Size do You Need?
  9. Instructions for Using a Yarn Bowl
  10. Where to Buy

What is a Yarn Bowl?

A yarn bowl is a stylish way to keep your yarn clean and organized while you work. You don’t have to worry about your ball of yarn rolling across the room or getting tangled in knots as you knit or crochet.

Bowls were traditionally handcrafted from wood, porcelain, or clay, but now many are mass produced. Mass production has affected the quality available, with the best yarn bowls still being made by artisans.

How Do They Benefit Knitters and Crocheters?

You’ve probably seen a yarn bowl online or at your local yarn shop. They’re the bowls with curved slots and holes in the side – definitely not meant for eating soup!

These odd-looking bowls are used by both knitters and crocheters to make knitting and crocheting more enjoyable.

You know how sometimes when you’re working, your project is going along so nicely when you suddenly find an unexplainable knot in your ball of yarn? It wasn’t there when you wound the skein. But now it looks like your yarn is alive and tangling itself.

Or perhaps you’re working directly from the skein…and halfway through you find it’s turned into a big tangled mess.

That’s where a yarn bowl comes in…

…while they’re beautiful enough to use as decoration, they keep your yarn from tangling and creating knots.

And if you’re working with multiple skeins, such as for stranded Fair Isle knitting, a good yarn bowl will keep your skeins from twisting together into a mess.

Related Post: What are the Best Yarn Swifts?

How Does a Yarn Bowl Work?

Your yarn rests in the bowl and is fed through yarn guides in the side of the bowl. The guides can be curved slots, hooks or holes.

The strand of working yarn goes through the guides, and as you pull on it, your yarn safely rolls in the bowl without tangling or rolling across the room.

If you leave your yarn in a hank or skein, the yarn bowl will also give you the leverage you need to easily pull out your working yarn strand one-handed.

When you’re not knitting or crocheting, you can use the holes to hold your needles or hook.

How Big are Yarn Bowls?

Yarn bowls come in a variety of sizes with the average being 6½ – 8 inches wide and 3½ – 4½ inches tall.

Why You Should Use a Yarn Bowl

Yarn bowls work for all types of projects – whether you want to knit socks or crochet an afghan.

Here are some reasons to use one when you knit or crochet:

  • They make beautiful decorations you can keep around your house either empty or filled with leftover yarn or works in progress.
  • They can hold your work when you’re not knitting or crocheting.
  • They keep your yarn from rolling across the room, collecting dust, lint, and pet fur (if you have pets).
  • They can help keep your yarn from becoming a cat or dog toy.
  • They allow you to safely knit or crochet outside without worrying about your yarn falling on the ground.

Why do They Have Holes?

The holes in a yarn bowl serve multiple purposes. You can use them to either hold your needles when you’re not working or as a guide for your yarn.

If you use the holes as a yarn guide, they help keep your yarn untangled and knot free by telling it where to go. As your ball of yarn gets smaller and lighter, the holes also help prevent you from accidentally yanking the yarn out of the bowl as you work.

Just remember that if you thread your yarn through a hole, you must either cut or finish the yarn before you can remove your project from the bowl.

How to Pick a Yarn Bowl

There are a couple of things to consider before you buying:

  • What yarn weight do you typically use? A ball of 300 yards of chunky weight yarn will require a bigger bowl than 1,000 yards of lace weight yarn.
  • Do you have a preference for wood or ceramic? Both are fantastic, but if you’re worried about your bowl being knocked over and breaking, wood might be a better choice as it tends to be more durable and forgiving.
  • Do you want a neutral or natural color or something more eye-catching?
  • How many strands of yarn are you working with? If you’re working with multiple skeins of yarn for color knitting, such as Fair Isle knitting, you should pick a yarn bowl for multiple skeins. They have two slots in the side – one for each color – to keep the yarns from twisting together.
  • Will you travel with your project? If you plan to travel with your work and don’t want to take your bowl with you, you should pick one with a curved slot or hook so that you can remove your yarn whenever needed.
  • How decorative do you want it to be?
  • Will you work with large skeins or will you wind your yarn into a ball? If you’re using a large skein, you might prefer an oversized yarn box to match the size of the skein, such as this one.
Oversized for large skeins
  • CONTENTS Box comes with lid to ensure your yarn stays clean and protected while you knit
  • FEATURES Swirl on the front secures yarn in place, making it easy to feed through while working
  • COMPOSITION Made from 100% bamboo with a glossy finish
  • OUTER SIZE 6 x 6 x 6" (15.24x15.24x15.24cm)
  • INNER SIZE 5" (12.7) depth, 4.75x4.75" (12.06x12.06cm) width and height. Comfortably fits a 100g yarn skein under lid. Able to hold larger bundles with lid off

Your bowl should be sturdy and a bit heavy to keep it from tipping over when you pull on the yarn – a wider base helps.

But most importantly, it must be very smooth. The tiniest little roughness in the wood or ceramic is enough to catch and fray yarn.

What Size do You Need?

Basically, you need a bowl that is big enough to hold your ball of yarn.

The best yarn bowls have taller sides because the extra height helps keep yarn balls from popping out if you pull on the yarn too hard or too fast.

But the main thing to consider when determining what size you need is your yarn weight.

If you work mostly with lace and fingering yarn weight, you can use just about any sized yarn bowl. Even large skeins of yarn roll up into small-ish balls so you can focus more on the bowl’s functionality and appearance than its size.

If you use DK or chunky yarn weights, you should look for large or extra large bowls. I wouldn’t go smaller than one that’s 8″x4″, such as this one.

Instructions for Using a Yarn Bowl

It’s really easy to thread a yarn bowl.

  1. Put your ball or skein of yarn in the bowl through the large opening at the top.
  2. Take the working end of the yarn and wrap it through the cutout swirl on the side or slip it through the hole, depending on the type of guide your bowl offers.
  3. If your bowl also has holes for knitting needles or crochet hooks, you can slip them through the holes from either the inside or the outside of the bowl. (If there is a project on your knitting needles, you may only be able to slip them through from the inside.)
  4. Start knitting or crocheting.

Where to Buy a Yarn Bowl

There are several great places I recommend for shopping for yarn bowls.

The least expensive I’ve found is, Knit Picks. If you’re already ordering yarn from them, it’s really easy to add the yarn bowls to your order.

Knit Crate also has handmade wooden yarn bowls that are budget friendly. They’re ideal for knitting, crocheting, and weaving!

Have fun!

The great thing about using a yarn bowl is they’re as decorative as they are functional.

Even when you’re not working on a project, your yarn bowl will look good sitting on a table. Make sure you enjoy yours even when you aren’t knitting or crocheting.

Learning how to use a yarn bowl is so rewarding! If you follow the tips in this article, you’re on your way to success.

If you know someone who is wondering about yarn bowls, be sure to share this article with them to ensure they pick the right bowl too!

2 thoughts on “Yarn Bowls: What You Need to Know About Using One”

  1. Thinking of getting one for my Grandaughter. This was very helpful as I do not knit and would not have known this information.
    Thank you!

Comments are closed.