The Center Pull Catastrophe

How does one get along with center pull? It has never played nice with me. And after my latest tangle disaster, I’m not in a hurry to re-experiment with it anytime soon.

I’d knit the body of my current textured cardigan project till the waist, and I decided to switch to the sleeves for a much-needed change. Instead of knitting them one at a time, I thought I’d try the center-pull method “one more time” and knit one sleeve with yarn from the outside like always, and another with yarn from the center.

Textured Cardigan - progress
This is where I was a few days ago.

I’d knit only a few rounds when I noticed I just couldn’t pull the yarn from the center anymore. It had gotten tangled on the inside! I thought I could try winding the yarn from the outside into another ball until I reach the tangle, but I was wrong…

Long story short, I spent an entire afternoon untangling a horrible mess, even after I’d snipped away the yarn from the knitting. I was so irritated that I thought of just dumping it in the trash, but no, there would be no wastage, not when I’d even bought an extra skein for this project because it looked like I’d need more yarn. (And lucky me, they were able to send the new skein from the same batch as the old ones.) So I persevered. At the end of it, I wasn’t even sure if it was worth it. I’m hoping it was. 🙂

After a few days of break to get over the trauma, I’m back on the project. Next time I work on two sleeves at a time, I’m just going to use two balls of yarn, even split a skein in two if it’s the last skein. I’ve concluded that for me, a center pull is just not worth the risk of bald patches on my head from all the hair-pulling. 😉

And if you prefer center pull, a tip of my hat to you. 🙂

18 thoughts on “The Center Pull Catastrophe

  1. I can’t do it, either! I have no idea how anyone can do this. I tried it once with two socks at the same time and felt like throwing the whole project out the window.

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    1. You’re smart for stopping after one unsuccessful try. I thought it could be different this time since I’d learned more tips and tricks for center pull since the last time I tried it. 😅
      I think center pull folks like to live dangerously, lol.

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      1. It’s not just the center pulling, it’s the using two ends of the skein at the same time that’s tricky. A center pull skein pulled from the center only is just fine, but once you start using both ends it gets all tangled. For me, it’s never again! If I knit two things at once I use two skeins and that is that! If you ever dare try again – and succeed – I’d love to know what you tried. But it sounds like you’re done, which might be a good option!

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        1. Hmm, I’ve never used center pull on its own – it’s always when I knit two things at a time. I guess it might go fine if I try just the center pulling, but it’ll have to remain a guess because you’re right – I don’t think I’ll try it again. ☺

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          1. Well then, I’m not sure what you were trying to do. I thought you were knitting from one skein, using its center pull feature and also its wrap-round feature.

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          2. Not sure why you’re confused, but what you said was exactly what I did – center pull always used with something else (wrap around) when I knit two at a time, and never just center pull all by itself to knit a single item. You’ve also got it right that I probably will not try using center pull, even when I’m not knitting two at a time. ☺

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  2. I have no idea what center pull is, and after your description I’m definitely not going to try that 😉 But I had to laugh at your “few days break to get over the trauma”. Oh the joys of knitting! 🙂
    Good luck with the rest of this project!

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    1. Uh oh my intention was not to dissuade someone from ever trying it! (Center pull is where you start using up yarn from the inside of your skein/ball/whatever instead of from the outside. Like everything else in the world, there are people who swear by it, and there are people who stay away from it.)
      And I’m glad you had a good laugh. 😉 The project is moving forward, though I think I now want to start another. ☺

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  3. I find techniques like this take away the joy for me. I once knit two socks at a time, toe up, on two circular needles. The socks turned out beautifully, and of course they matched perfectly. But I hated the process. I’ve never tried the center pull method, and it sounds like I wouldn’t want to!

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    1. Agreed, any process that makes a therapeutic pastime like knitting become a pain is totally not worth it!
      Do you always knit your socks one at a time now? I don’t mind knitting two together from two different skeins (two sleeves in my case), but only because there are too many times when I knit one and then don’t feel like finishing the second sleeve! 😉

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  4. I have to admit, I am a center pull knittier, crocheter. I have always pulled my yarn start from the center. Sometimes I get lucky and get near the end to start, sometimes I end up with a hunk of yarn that I have to detangle. Though it has never really been a frustrating problem. It probably would be a huge problem if I were to try to do sleeves from the same skein, though. I would prefer to use 2 skeins. So sorry for all of your frustration. Hopefully things are going along smoothly now.

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    1. It’s wonderful that the untangling has never been too much of a hassle for you, Ginny! I guess I just keep getting unlucky, considering there are quite a lot of knitters / crocheters that use center pull. I might try it again some day with smaller balls of yarn (who knows, right), but definitely not in the near future! 😅 And from now on, two skeins for two items it is, definitely.

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  5. I haven’t dealt much with yarn “cakes,” which is what I think you’re talking about, but the two I bought recently were wound into balls (by hand) before they’d even gotten in the door good. It’s my considered opinion that pull skeins are tools of the devil. The first thing I do when I start a project is wind all the yarn into balls. I have some lovely bowls I got at a store that sells dishes, glassware, cutlery, table linens, etc. One I keep by my chair in the living room (lounge) and the other I keep on my computer desk ( https://theowlunderground.wordpress.com/2017/08/06/the-slightly-eccentric-hatter/ ), the two places in the house where I knit. They are nice deep bowls (and pretty). If I have to use more than one strand of yarn at a time, I have a big yarn bowl that has a lid with cuts in to keep the yarn from tangling. https://knitsfromtheowlunderground.wordpress.com/2015/03/18/yarn-bowls/
    By winding the skeins into balls before I start the project, i deal with any tangles beforehand. The balls unroll smoothly and I don’t seem to always be yanking out more yarn as I knit, which I find annoying.

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    1. The big yarn bowl is delightful! I love working from nicely rolled balls too, but I’ve not successfully learnt to wind yarn into a ‘center pull friendly’ ball, so I thought I’d try from the skein this time. Tool of the devil indeed, lol – it was worse than my hand-wound ball! (I do mean a skein, and not a cake. I like the look of a cake but we don’t get cakes from stores here, I can’t make one by hand, and I don’t own winding tools that might have that capability. ☺)
      Anyway, since I’ll refrain in the future from using one skein/ball to knit two items, I hope to have more peaceful knitting times. 😉

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  6. I understand your feelings on all that work and the chance of wasting yarn. I’ve raveled out lots of projects and started over. A break from a project is usually helpful in getting your focus back and lessen frustrations.

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    1. Thank you, E.C., and I agree. I think this might be the only time I was strongly tempted to discard yarn, and I probably would have if I actually had enough yarn in my stash.
      Thankfully, the project is going on fine now. 😊

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