types of yarn packaging

A Hank, A Ball, A Skein, and A Cake – Types of Yarn Packaging

Skeins, balls, cakes, hanks – so many names that are common in the knitting and crochet communities! Being new to the world of crochet or knitting can be hard, especially when you know that there’s a whole different lingo that comes with it. Depending on whom you ask, pretty sure they’ll be using different words for their yarn depending on the types of yarn packaging. Some will call it a ball, while others might refer to it as hank.

So, to help our fellow knitters and crocheters, let’s get into the differences between the types of yarn packaging.

What’s in a name?

Well, to go by Shakespeare’s words, what’s in a name – you can call a yarn many different names. And it’s all dependent on how the yarn is wound. Really, you can call it whatever you like but if you wanna know the difference between the names, read on ahead!

So, what are the possible different names?

There are many different names that you can give to yarn. Let’s list out a few of them.

  1. Skein
  2. Hank
  3. Ball
  4. Cake
  5. Cone
  6. Twisted Hank
  7. Donut Ball

This list is in no way comprehensive, but these are some of the common terms in use when the community talks about yarn. So, we will focus on the four most common types of yarn packaging – skein, hank, ball, and cake.

A Skein of Yarn

Skeins are most common when it comes to buying yarn from a big box store. The way you pronounce it varies – some say it so that it sounds like ‘rain’ while others make it sound like ‘mean.’ It is slightly oblong in shape.

a skein of yarn

Skein is a yarn that is machine wound. The way they are wound, you cannot usually pull out from the center without getting everything tangled. If you get a skein that is longer than the usual ones, then you can easily pull the yarn from the center.

But, as you use the skein, it starts to lose its shape, and if it is a center-pull skein, you will need to re-wind it so that it does not get tangled.

A Hank of Yarn

Hanks of yarn are usually used when the yarn needs dyeing. This form of yarn packaging is ideal for dyeing as it allows most colors to saturate the yarn.

types of yarn packaging hank

It is also referred to as a twisted hank as the yarn loop is twisted on itself. Some stores prefer this type of yarn packaging as it is easy to store and ship.

One thing to note about a hank of yarn is that you cannot use it for knit or crochet while it is in this form. You need to roll it to form a ball or a cake to be able to use it without getting all tangled up! You can use a ball winder to make a cake or a ball of yarn.

A Ball of Yarn

A ball of yarn is essentially the same thing as the name suggests. It is a type of yarn packaging where the yarn is wound in the shape of a ball. It is worked from the outside and doesn’t work as a center-pull.

ball of yarn

Usually, you won’t find balls of yarn in any store. You have to create it by hand winding it. Many knitters prefer to roll their hanks of yarn into a circular-ball-like shape so that it is easy to use and handle.

A Cake of Yarn

A cake of yarn is made using a ‘ball’ winder, or you can hand-wind it by using a hand winder. They are flatter than a skein of yarn in shape and look like a ‘cake.’

types of yarn packaging cake of yarn

Cakes of yarn are generally center pull and easy to use when it comes to knit and crochet. It is one of the yarn packagings that people prefer when it comes to converting a hank of yarn into something usable.

How To Choose Yarn Packaging?

Hanks, skeins, balls, and cakes are all perfect to work with, and no one option is better than the others. If you are using a ball of yarn, you’ll need a yarn bowl to keep it in one place and clean. There are some yarn containers that can hold skeins and cakes and serve the same purpose as yarn bowls. If you want to work with high-end luxury yarns, then they mostly come in hank packaging.

Most knitters and crocheters prefer yarn in the form of skein, ball, or cake as they are ready-to-use. All you need to do is find the end of the yarn, and you can start with your project!

Ultimately, no matter which style or type of yarn packaging you prefer, you can wind up the yarn in any shape you like. The whole winding up of yarn into a ball or a cake is quite meditative.

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