The modern solution to keeping yarn clean as a knitting project progresses is the notched yarn bowl: an essential accessory for knitters today. Gone are the days of having a yarn ball travel across a not so clean floor as it unravels while knitting. Grandmother may have placed her yarn into a plastic bag to overcome this problem but, likely found that the yarn “bunched up” and got snagged frequently, causing frustrating pauses in the knitting process.
The notched yarn bowl was created to solve this problem. The yarn ball is simply placed into the bowl with the yarn threaded through the notch in the side of the bowl. The yarn unravels smoothly and is kept clean and free of the debris it used to pick up off the floor as it unravelled. Some knitters even report that watching the ball unravel in the notched yarn bowl adds to the relaxation of the knitting process.
These bowls are made from a variety of materials, mostly wood and ceramics, and have a variety of creative, decorative notches that facilitate smooth unwinding of the yarn. Here are a few simple hints for the knitter who is confused about design features and wishes to ensure that the bowl selected is the best for their purposes:
1. Ensure that the material the yarn bowl is made from is smooth, especially at the notch, as wool will fray easily with even a minor roughness in this area of the bowl.
2. Choose a bowl that has a “J” notch so that the project can be separated from the bowl at any time during the duration of the project. Using a bowl that has a hole that must be threaded like a needle limits the knitters ability to separate the project from the yarn bowl. This is essential when working on a project that you wish to transport with you to various locations.
3. Ensure that the sides of the bowl are high enough to prevent the ball of wool from easily spinning out of the bowl This height varies with the size of yarn ball being used by the knitter. A 3″ sidewall is generally high enough to contain most balls of wool.
4. Choose a design and colour that goes with the home decor of the knitter. When the yarn bowl is not in use for a knitting project it can then be a display item. Even when in use having a bowl that is consistent with the interior design of the home enables the knitter to leave the project on display in a neat and attractive way.
5. Choose a yarn bowl designed by someone who knits. After all, knitters know best what knitters need. For example, Susanne James is a potter and knitter and has designed a series of 3 notched yarn bowls that she herself uses in her knitting projects. The first simply has the “J”-shaped notch. A second has the notch adorned with the image of a dragonfly that drapes along the edge of the “J” notch. The third adds a lid to the bowl to add additional protection from spills from above and damage by pets.