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How to Make Your Own Yarn Holder & Dispenser Using Everyday Materials

Athlyn Green is an avid crocheter and knitter. She designs and sells handcrafted goods.

This functional yarn holder is made from a sturdy plastic container.

This functional yarn holder is made from a sturdy plastic container.

Sick of Tangling?

If you do a lot of crafting with wool or yarn, sooner or later, you'll grow tired of your yarn becoming tangled, and you'll consider ideas for some type of yarn holder. You will have noticed that no matter how careful you are, tangling is part and parcel of working with yarn.

Skeins present two problems. If you've ever pulled the yarn strand from inside a skein, only to have it "lock up" sometime later, you know how long it takes to sort out that particular knotted mess. And if you pull a strand from the outside of the skein, your skein has the tendency to flop around like a fish out of water—and it can easily become a jumbled mess.

If you are like me and you wind your skeins into balls before starting a project, you still face having those balls scooting off and wrapping around a table leg, rolling down a hallway, or even worse, tumbling down a staircase. It can be frustrating having to chase after a ball, and this robs time from crafting.

In another scenario, if you work with multiple strands, it is nearly impossible to keep the balls separated and free from tangling, and the strands twist as you work.

It is a good idea to have some type of yarn holder before picking up your knitting needles or crochet hook. When you are stuck and need something on hand, you can make your own yarn holder/dispenser out of everyday materials.

This article looks at three yarn holders you can make in minutes from materials you likely have on hand. These yarn holders aren't fancy by any stretch of the imagination, but they will serve you well and help you to craft smarter and not harder.

A bit of ingenuity means yarn stays put.

A bit of ingenuity means yarn stays put.

1. Make A Basic Yarn Holder & Dispenser Using a Humble Ziploc Bag

Yes, really, Ziploc bags. This practical solution may seem a tad obvious, but how many crafters actually have used these bags to contain their yarn?

I was working on slippers and using four strands for the soles. My yarn became twisted and hopelessly tangled. In desperation, I looked around my home for something to put the four balls into to keep them separated. I hit on using Ziploc bags. They do very well in a pinch.

Simply place your yarn inside the bag, pull out the yarn end, and zip up the bag 3/4 of the way across, leaving enough room for the strand to move freely through the opening you haven't zipped.

It doesn't get much easier than this. Ziploc bags make instant plain-Jane yarn dispensers.

For larger balls, simply use larger bags.

For larger balls, simply use larger bags.

How Ziploc Bags Saved the Day

In the photo below, I had started a crocheted rug and, as can be seen, was working with multiple strands and different colors. In short order, I knew I had to do something or I was going to spend most of my time trying to keep everything untangled. Using Ziploc bags was a great time saver.

A thick crocheted rug is easier to work on when colors are kept separate.

A thick crocheted rug is easier to work on when colors are kept separate.

2. Making a Yarn Holder From a Milk Jug

If you have a large plastic milk jug with a handle, this can easily do duty as a yarn holder.

You can make a yarn holder from a large milk jug in two ways:

  • Cut the top part of the jug off and place your ball of yarn inside. I would suggest cutting it nearer to the top to ensure that your yarn does not pop out of the opening. Use a large jug so that your yarn ball has room to turn.
  • Cut a hole in the side of the jug and thread your yarn through it. Doing this ensures that your yarn does not pop out of the top of the jug.

This setup is admittedly crude, but it will do you in a pinch. An advantage of this type of homemade yarn holder is, of course, the handle.

A sturdy lidded container makes an attractive and useful yarn holder/dispenser.

A sturdy lidded container makes an attractive and useful yarn holder/dispenser.

3. DIY Yarn Tainer

Another way to make a yarn holder and dispenser is to use a large, clear plastic container with a wide-mouthed screw-on lid.

  1. Make a good-sized hole in the lid by heating a metal prong and inserting it through the center of the lid. (Do this outside so you don't breathe in the fumes from the melted plastic.)
  2. Place your ball of yarn inside the container and push the yarn end through the hole, then screw on the lid. Easy-peasy and looks more attractive than a milk jug.

This makes one of the best homemade yarn holders and is one of the better do-it-yourself yarn dispensers.

With this DIY yarn tainer, there is no more tangling and it looks good, too.

With this DIY yarn tainer, there is no more tangling and it looks good, too.

Handy-Dandy Tip

When working on a project, store your hook and scissors in your yarn holder. No more having to hunt for them.

4. Folgers Coffee Tub

The video below offers some innovative ideas for using Folgers coffee tubs. These containers come in generous sizes, have a built-in handle, plus come with a wide-mouthed snap-on lid, which, because it is flexible, is easy to make a hole in. While these containers aren't clear, they can easily serve as yarn holders and dispensers.

5. A Lidded Tupperware Container

If you are lucky enough to have some old-lidded Tupperware containers hanging around in your pantry, these offer distinct advantages as pre-marked and "wear-ever" containers. In many cases, the lids conveniently include a raised center circle, which you normally would press to seal the lid but that you can use as an accurate guide for where to make your hole. These raised lid markers take the guesswork out of finding the center of the lid.

6. A Handled Wicker Basket

A handled wicker basket offers an instant solution, both as a yarn holder and as a place to store your scissors, crafting supplies, and other skeins. Place your yarn ball on one end (the end closest to you) and thread the yarn strand through the handle opening, place your other skeins and your crafting supplies on the other side. This way, everything is in one place and ready for each crafting session.

Innovative Do It Yourself Yarn Holders

Single StrandMultiple StrandsOther

a spouted, lidded teapot

chair rungs

an up-ended ceramic plant pot with a holed bottom

an old-fashioned enamel spouted coffee pot

slated or holed laundry basket

a deep bucket--thread strand through the handle

a restaurant-style glass sugar container with a fluted, metal lid

a metal, holed colander

kid's plastic toy container with a wide snap-on lid

© 2012 Athlyn Green


Tui on July 05, 2020:

thinking of making yarn holder to hold 2,3,5 that twists to make one yarn to crochet as I usually work multiple strands. sometimes with a mix of materials (cotton,wool,wire,jute,etc.).

Anya on December 15, 2017:

Now I can crochet a basket to use as yarn organizer. Great idea, thanks!