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

Updated on October 12, 2016
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Athlyn Green is an avid crocheter and knitter. She designs and sells handcrafted goods.

Homemade Yarn Dispenser With Holed Lid


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 consider ideas for some type of yarn holder. You will have noticed that no matter how careful you try to be, 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 fish out of water and in doing so, 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 becoming wrapped around a table leg, rolling down a hallway, or even worse, tumbling down a staircase. We've all had it happen. And it can be frustrating having to chase after a ball because this robs time from crafting.

In a third scenario, if you work with multiple strands, it is near-impossible to keep the balls separated and free from tangling in a jumbled mess at your feet. Another problem that crops up is that multiple strands twist as you work.

It is far easier to have some type of holder at the ready 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 that will help keep everything neat, tidy, and manageable.

This article looks at three easy 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.

Why Make a Yarn Holder?

Which would you rather do, spend your time crafting or untangling?

Time Wasted

I was working on slippers and using 4 strands for the soles. My yarn became twisted and hopelessly tangled. I'd hoped to make progress on my slippers but now had to spend time untangling.

Easy & Quick Yarn Holder


Great for Small Balls and Scraps

I also use these bags for all my small left-over balls and yarn ends, which saves everything from ending in a jumbled mess at the bottom of my yarn basket.

With crafting supplies becoming more expensive, yarn odds and ends that might have been discarded in the past are now kept for future use.

Make A Basic Yarn Holder & Dispenser Using a Humble Zip-Lock Bag

I was working on slippers and using 4 strands for the soles. My yarn became twisted and hopelessly tangled. I'd planned to make progress on my slippers but now had to spend time untangling. In desperation, I looked around my home for something to put the four balls into keep them separated. I needed something that would contain the balls and dispense the yarn strands at the same time. I hit on using Zip-Lock bags. And they do well in a pinch.

Simply place your balls of yarn inside the bags, pull out the yarn ends and zip up the bags 3/4 of the way across to keep your yarn inside but leaving enough room for the strand to move freely through the opening or slit that you haven't "zipped."

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

For Larger Balls, Simply Use Larger Bags


Zip-Lock Bags Saved the Day

In the photo below, I had started a stained glass 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 Zip-lock bags was a life-saver.

Keeping Things Neat and Tidy


A Neat Trick for a Milk Jug Yarn Holder

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.

Make 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 simply cut the top off and place your ball of yarn inside. I would suggest cutting it near the top to ensure that your yarn does not pop out the opening. Use a large enough jug that your yarn ball has room to turn. This set-up is admittedly crude but will do in a pinch.

An advantage with this type of homemade yarn holder is the handle.

Use a Large Clear Plastic Container With a Screw-On Lid

Another way to make a yarn holder and dispenser is to use a large clear plastic container with a screw-on lid. Sometimes candy comes in these large containers.

  1. Make a hole in the lid by heating a metal prong and inserting it through the center of the lid.
  2. Do this outside so that you don't breath in the fumes from the melted plastic
  3. Make a good-sized hole.
  4. Place your ball of yarn inside the container and push the yarn end through the hole in the lid, then screw on the lid.This keeps your yarn safely inside.

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


My Favorite Yarn Holder/Dispenser

This large plastic container with a screw-on lid is my personal favorite. It looks better than a milk jug and is, of course, more solid than bags. And it is clear.

No More Tangling With a Homemade Yarn Tainer



  • Wind your yarn skeins into balls before placing them in your yarn holders. The round shape makes for easier/better dispensing, as you pull on the strand. skeins tend to flip-flop.
  • When working on a project, store your hook and scissors in your yarn holder.

Other Ideas

Most of us want something fast and easy when we are hunting around for something to use as a yarn holder/dispenser. The videos below offer some innovative ideas.

In A Jiffy

Single Strand
Multiple Strands
coffee pot
chair rungs
deep bowl
large plastic coffee containers
holed laundry basket

After Reading This Hub, Will You Make Your Own Yarn Holder?

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Not Fancy But They Do the Trick

These suggestions for homemade yarn dispensers may do the trick when you need a yarn holder in a hurry. I still use both bags and container as seen in the pictures in this article.

Have you ever made your own yarn holder?

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© 2012 Athlyn Green


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