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Yarn Packaging

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You can find the yarn packed differently: hanks, skeins and balls. The differences in packaging do not affect your project pretty much, but the shape usually determines the quality of the yarn and how you work with it.
Here you can find some remarkable aspects to keep in mind of the 8 most common types of yarn packaging.

Types of Yarn Packaging


Hank is the correct term for a loop of yarn, fastened into a continuous circle with ties. A hank is a way to package fibre loosely and cleanly, allowing for less tangling. In addition, its texture is not affected in this way.

All fibres must be in contact with the dye when dyeing by hand. Therefore, the best way to pack the yarn is in hanks.

However, hand-dyed yarn is rarely sold in this way as it becomes very easily tangled.

Twisted Hank

hank is usually twisted into a pretzel shape to avoid tangles. This type of yarn packaging is easy to store and ship.

You can find twisted hanks in both and z twists, depending on the direction of the twist.

The high-quality yarn looks nicer when presented in a hank and it is easy to see the quality, especially on hand-dyed yarn.  

Remember: do not work straight from the hank! 

First, you need to wind it into a ball or cake. Of course, you can use a yarn winder to make it easier.


Skein is a generic term to say yarn ball. It can also mean a machine-produced ball, which usually is not round. Skeins are industrial ball-winders.

The best part about skeins is that they are ready to use. No winding needed!

Pull Skein

Pull skeins or centre-pull skeins are industrial cylinder shape ball-winders.

They are ready to use! Just slide off the label and pull from the outside of the centre. But, be careful as the pull-skeins will collapse as you work.


Bullet Skein

The bullet skein is a shorter, rounder version of the pull skein, but much better, easy to use and compact!

Bullet skeins are ready to use, pull from the outside of the centre. They never collapse!


The cake is a kind of skein of yarn. The industrial winder rolls the fibre into a shape that looks like a small cake with a flat top and bottom with rounded sides.

This packaging is exclusive for coloured yarns to show off the colour gradient.

The cake shape allows seeing all the colour changes without unwinding the skein. 


The donut is another type of skein of yarn but a bit smaller. The doughnut shape is very much like a cake, except that it is more rounded and in the style of a sphere.

This shape is ideal for packaging slippery luxury yarns that need to show their lustre and smoothness on yarn store shelves. In addition, their squashed shape allows them to be easily stacked.

Like the skein, it is ready to use and more convenient because the central pulling yarn does not roll up while working! 

However, depending on the yarn, it may be helpful to wind it into a ball to avoid tangles.

Hard Core

The hard core is another type of skein, where yarn is wrapped on a rigid cardboard core, keeping it solid and presentable for display and storage.

This way of packaging is exclusive to fine yarns. For example, metallic, synthetic, light cotton yarns and any other that tends to be slippery.

You can use it directly, but always from the outside, but do not worry, the skein will not roll away. 

You only have to be careful when reaching the core, as the cardboard tends to slide and the yarn could become tangled.


A ball of yarn is essentially the same as its name suggests. It is a type of yarn packaging in which the fibre is rolled into a ball by hand. Of course, it works from the outside.

If you hand-wind a hank, twisted hank or another skein, you get a hard, round ball of yarn.

Unfortunately, stretching the yarn tightly to form the ball can affect its tension and the final aspect of the fibre. Wash your project after working with a ball of yarn to let the fibre bloom again.

Due to the rotating effect that all the spheres have, the ball of yarn will tend to roll around the whole house, gathering all kinds of particles. That is why it is convenient to place the ball of yarn in a container, such as a yarn bag or yarn bowl

How To Choose Yarn? By Packaging?

Short answer, obviously NO!

Each package has different features, and they are all perfect to work with, and no option is better than the others.

You have to choose the suitable yarn for your project and remember the following:

  • Do not work straight from the hank. Wind it into a ball or cake first.
  • Skeins, cakes, donuts, hard cores are ready to use. 
  • If you use a ball, you will need a yarn bowl to keep it clean and in one place.

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