Yarn School: Inside Pull vs Outside Pull Ball

A ball of yarn is one very long piece of string with two ends. One inside, buried down deep in the middle, and one wrapped around the outside. You can start using the yarn from either end, pulling from either the inside or the outside. I know it’s going to come as a shock to you, but I have opinions about this.

You may have heard me say it, or you may have learned it elsewhere, but for those of you who don’t know, yarn is only held together by the twist. If it were not twisted, it would be just roving and would fall apart with even gentle tugging. The way a quantity of yarn is lumped together is called the put up. Go here for a great graphic that explains more about put up. Every time you change the put up, depending on which way you wind it, you either add or subtract twist. Going from the reeling machines into cones at the factory, going from cones to hanks in the warehouse, or going from hank to ball in the shop or at home, adds or subtracts twist. And so does knitting or crocheting.

I have a really hard time working with single ply yarn because wrapping the yarn around my needle or hook in a counter clockwise motion, as is customary here in the western world, takes away the twist and makes my yarn begin to fall apart. Working from the outside end of a ball of yarn will add twist if the yarn comes off in a counter clockwise motion, and add twist if the yarn comes off the ball in a clockwise motion. Either way, adding or subtracting twist can affect your gauge.

Working from the end in the middle of the ball will preserve the twist. It also allows your yarn to sit still and not roll around. It may be becoming clear what my opinion is. I like the center pull put up. To address the pros and cons, though, there are a number of accessories you can use to make which ever end you want to work with, work for you.


The simplest yarn bras come a variety pack with three sizes in three colors.

If want to use the inside pull out up, but you’re worried about the center of the ball collapsing, a yarn bra will be your best friend. You can read more about yarn bras here in Kate’s review guest blog. The gentle pressure of the yarn bra holds everything together and you can knot or crochet along in the confidence that nothing is going to fall apart on either end.








The big, four-armed thing hanging on the wall is a swift, which holds a hank of yarn while you wind it into a ball. the covered bowl below is perfect for keeping your yarn tidy and within reach. Isn’t it beautiful?

If you want to use the outside pull put up, you have two challenges. First, you have to let the ball roll around to compensate for the twisting motion the yarn makes as you pull it. This keep your yarn from getting over or under twisted as you work. Second, you have to keep your ball from rolling away out of reach, or around in the cat hair on the floor (not that I think you have cat hair on your floor!) or under the couch where you can’t reach it. The perfect solution is a yarn bowl. You can see some great yarn bowl ideas here.  And, of course we have Francis Farley’s beautiful bowls here in the shop. A yarn bowl will contain the yarn where you can keep it tidy while still allowing the ball to twist freely.




So, opinions aside, which ever put up you like, inside pull or outside pull, a simple accessory can make or break your experience.


Written by mim


2 Comments on “Yarn School: Inside Pull vs Outside Pull Ball

  1. That which you say is true about twist, BUT there are some yarns that do NOT want to behave as center-pull balls. I am thinking of my lace weight friends, especially silk. It will knot horribly, often even with a yarn bra – so these I use the outside end and baggie or some other container as I DO have cat hair on the floor occasionally, however did you know? 🙂

    Saw a wonderful hack on Ravelry recently – knitter had yarn with a reputation for being unruly – she wound it onto an empty toilet paper tube, then put that on a free standing toilet paper holder beside her chair, and voila – unruly yarn tamed! She pulled what she needed and it spun easily to her needles.

  2. Can I take a Premier Home cotton cone of yarn unwind it and Rewind it on the cone to be a center pull?

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