Best Yarn Bowls + Ultimate Guide to Using Them (2022)
Yarn bowls…they look gorgeous. The perfect tool that all the blogs say you should invest in…right? MAYBE. In this post I want to not only break down what yarn bowls are, but also tell you all the pros and cons to owning one. I’ll tell you all the secrets (good & bad) that other people don’t reveal. Ready? Let’s go!
Now, some people might see that first paragraph (and my title) and think I’m going to say yarn bowls are all BAD, not good.
But, that is not the case at all. The truth is, I want to give you all the pros AND the cons in this yarn bowl guide. I don’t want to simply recommend a yarn bowl for every single person across the board.
Many other blogs will break down what a yarn bowl is, how it works, and then send you to a bunch of links of their favorites.
And while that’s great, I’m going to go in even more depth. To help you figure out if YOU PERSONALLY need a yarn bowl.
Because while they are amazing, they aren’t for everyone.
SO: as we go through this post, there’s a few things you need to know.
First of all, this post is broken up into two main sections. In section 1, I’ll tell you all the details about yarn bowls. What they are, how to use them, and IF they are right for you. You’ll be able to gather information and make an educated decision about whether or not you would like to buy one.
If you read this section and decide yarn bowls aren’t for you, then you can move on from this post. No need to keep reading.
BUT, if you decide yarn bowls would be the perfect investment for you, then you’ll love section 2, because here I will break down all the different types of yarn bowls, show you my favorites, and help you decide which kind to buy.
That is this post in a nutshell. So are you ready to get started?!
Disclosure. This post contains affiliate links.
Table of Contents
- What is a Yarn Bowl?
- How to Use a Yarn Bowl
- My brutally honest opinion of yarn bowls
- Who yarn bowls ARE for
- Who they ARE NOT for
- Where you can buy yarn bowls
- THE BEST yarn bowls
- Amazing wooden yarn bowls
- Ceramic/Resin yarn bowls
- Metal Yarn Bowls
- Plastic Yarn Bowls
- Yarn bowls with lids
- Jumbo Yarn Bowls
- Yarn bowls at your local craft store
- DIY yarn bowl ideas (make your own!)
What exactly is a yarn bowl?
A yarn bowl is a pretty neat tool that allows you to keep your yarn protected from tangles and hair while crocheting or knitting (yes, they work for either craft).
Maybe you’ve noticed before that your yarn tends to roll around a lot as you crochet. It can collect dust, cat hair, or just plain get tangled.
Well, yarn bowls are designed to protect your yarn from THAT! It give the yarn a space to sit comfortably and remain in the same place while you work on a project. Pretty cool, right?
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How to use a Yarn Bowl
So how do actually USE a yarn bowl? It is really quite simple. Here are a few steps you can follow:
- Put your yarn (already wound into a cake) into the bowl.
- Find the working end of the yarn on the outside (NOT the center pull).
- Tug that thread a bit and weave it into the yarn bowl’s “swirl.”
- Start crocheting or knitting with this end, while your yarn stays snug in the bowl!
My Brutally Honest Opinion of Yarn Bowls
Here’s the deal – yarn bowls are simply not for everyone. In my opinion, they are AMAZING for their intended use. However, I think many people expect them to function outside of their intended use.
For example: I know when I first bought a yarn bowl, I was hoping for it to work with not only a cake of yarn, but also a ball. Or maybe even a skein. But the truth is, yarn bowls simply don’t function as well when they aren’t used with a cake.
That’s just one example. So let me give you an easy to reference list of pros and cons.
- Very easy to use
- Keeps your yarn from gathering hair or getting tangled
- Keeps yarn from rolling around while crocheting
- Works AMAZING when using yarn cakes
- Looks and feels beautiful/professional
- Does not work with yarn skeins
- Works okay with yarn balls (not as smoothly as with cakes)
- Depending on the quality of the bowl, yarn may slip out of the “swirl” easily
So, how can you know if a yarn bowl is for you?
You’re probably already starting to get an idea of this by reading the pros and cons. But let’s break it down even further.
More Buying Guides
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- DK Weight Yarn: What it is and Where to find it
- 17 Tools & Accessories Every Crocheter Needs
Who a yarn bowl IS for
Here is how you know if a yarn bowl is for you:
First of all, do you use a lot of hand-dyed yarn or “hanks” of yarn? If the answer is YES, then you will love yarn bowls. You already are used to winding your hanks into cakes. And since yarn bowls are perfect for cakes, this would be a super useful tool to have.
Here’s another question to ask: do you enjoy winding yarn? If so, you would also do well with a yarn bowl. If you enjoy the process of winding yarn, then you probably won’t mind the extra step of winding a skein into a cake.
Who a yarn bowl ISN’T for
It is pretty obvious, then, who yarn bowls aren’t the best for.
Basically, people who don’t use hanks of yarn and also don’t want to wind their SKEINS into cakes since it takes extra time.
Evaluate if YOU need one
Just to clarify: I don’t want to sound here like you shouldn’t buy a yarn bowl if you only use skeins (and not hanks or balls). You certainly CAN still use one. However, you WILL have to add the extra step of winding your skein into a cake before using the yarn bowl.
Personally, that is a step I don’t have time for, so I stick to using my yarn bowls for yarns that HAVE to be caked. But maybe you’re not like me. Maybe you enjoy the process of winding yarn for skeins. If that’s the case, you could still find great value in a yarn bowl.
The bottom line is, you can make whatever choice is best for you. Evaluate the pros and cons, and decide if it is worthwhile to you.
(Oh, and did I mention? I’d love to hear your decision! Let me know what it is in the comments!)
SO: if you’re ready to start using a yarn bowl, you can start reading section 2! We’re going to now discuss where you can buy yarn bowls, and I’ll show you some of my favorites!
Where can you buy a yarn bowl?
There are many different places you can buy yarn bowls – at your local craft store like Hobby Lobby, or Amazon, or other small businesses online.
Here is the selection at amazon
Here is the selection at We Crochet (my favorite online yarn store!)
But what are the BEST yarn bowls?
This is the question we will aim to answer in the rest of this post. I’m so excited to show you my favorite yarn bowls, and the pros and cons of the ones I have tried!
But before we do that…here are some characteristics of the BEST yarn bowls:
- Whatever the material they’re made of, it should be SMOOTH – anything rough will cause the yarn to catch and snag
- They should be the right SIZE for the yarn you’re using
- They should be heavy enough to stay in one place when you tug on the yarn
As I show you my FAVORITES, I will go into more detail about each of the points above!
Best Yarn Bowl Sizes
As I mentioned, when you pick the best yarn bowl, you want to make sure the size will accommodate your needs. Here are the standard sizes you’ll see in lots of yarn bowls:
- Width/Diameter: often 5″ or 6″. 7″ and up is considered to be jumbo (more info on that later!)
- Height: often 3″ or 4″. 5″ and up is usually considered jumbo as well.
Wooden Yarn Bowls
Probably one of the most common types of yarn bowls are made of wood. And I must say, these are my FAVORITE yarn bowls to use. Why? Because of the way the yarn slides over the wood.
As long as you buy good-quality wooden yarn bowls, you shouldn’t have a problem with your yarn getting snagged. I find that the We Crochet/Knit Picks wooden yarn bowls are AMAZING quality. They are so smooth.
1. Maplewood Yarn Bowl (my favorite!)
Of all the yarn bowls I’ve tried, this one is my personal favorite. The Maplewood Yarn Bowl is sold on We Crochet and it is made from natural maplewood. Let’s talk about the size, and the pros and cons.
Size: 6″ in diameter, 4″ high, 12.5 oz (my 100 gram cake of fingering yarn fits perfectly!)
- It is taller than other yarn bowls I’ve seen, so the yarn stays inside better.
- Made from beautiful, smooth, light wood.
- Yarn stays in the “swirl” very well (didn’t slide out as easily as other bowls)
- Features 3 extra holes on the side so you can use multiple smaller balls at the same time!
- Affordable – costs just $19.99
- The only con I can think of is that this bowl almost looks bigger than it actually is. The brim is very wide, but the bottom is not as wide as the brim.
2. Rosewood Yarn Bowl
This is another very popular yarn bowl on the We Crochet website. This one is made from a darker wood, and is just as smooth as the previous one.
Size: 5″ diamter, 3.5″ high, 12oz
- Beautiful design and dark wood that is nice and smooth
- Fits cakes that are “wider” well
- Very affordable: costs just $19.99
- I had trouble getting my yarn to stay in the swirl. This COULD just be the yarn I was using. But I liked the swirl better on the previous bowl
- May not work as well for TALL cakes
Wooden Yarn Bowls on Amazon
In addition to KnitPicks/We Crochet, Amazon also has a lovely selection of wooden yarn bowls. Below you can see a few that look gorgeous (but please note I have not tried these personally).
Resin/Ceramic Yarn Bowls
Another medium that you will often see yarn bowls made of is both resin and ceramic. Oftentimes, ceramic yarn bowls will be handmade, and feels similar to glass or pottery.
Resin, on the other hand, feels closer to plastic, although it is not plastic in its purest form. You can read more about resin here if you’re curious.
Neo Marble Resin Yarn Bowl
When I first saw this marble looking yarn bowl made from resin, I fell in love. It just looks so beautiful! The feel of the yarn going through the resin was much different from wood, but not in a bad way.
- Can hold a little bit larger of a cake
- Yarn slides through smoothly and stays in place well
- Still pretty affordable at $24.99
- Not quite as heavy as heavy as the wooden yarn bowls
Buy Ceramic Yarn Bowls on Amazon
Amazon has a whole host of unique ceramic yarn bowls! This cute Sheep Yarn Bowl and Flower Yarn Bowl were two of my faves as I was browsing.
Metal Yarn Bowls
Another material yarn bowls can be made out of is metal. This one is not quite as commonly seen.
Polished Aluminum Yarn Bowl
When I first saw this metal yarn bowl, I loved it. The polished metal is shiny and beautiful. However, after I tried it, it wasn’t my favorite compared to the other mediums. Let’s look at the pros and cons again.
Size: 6″ wide, 3″ tall
- Can hold a wide cake at 6″ in diameter
- Is nice and heavy (not going anywhere while you work!)
- It is also very durable and won’t break or scratch easily
- It will have more trouble holding TALL cakes
- Personally, I didn’t like the noise the yarn made while I was pulling it through and crocheting. It made a little ringing-type noise whenever I tugged the yarn
- It is on the expensive side, going for $40
While I do like this bowl overall, I’m not sure I would recommend it for the price. However, most of the things I mentioned are purely my opinion, not to be taken as fact for everyone. Who knows, you may think the noise the yarn makes helps you focus! 😂
Buying Metal Yarn Bowls on Amazon
I could only find one metal yarn bowl available on Amazon, and interestingly, it is about the same price as the one listed above!
I haven’t tried this one personally to check for quality, but I will say I DO like the fact that it is taller and includes some extra holes on the side.
Plastic Yarn Bowls
The last MATERIAL we’re going to talk about for now is plastic. Are plastic yarn bowls any good at all? I tried one, and I’ll tell you exactly what I thought (brutally honest again, haha!)
Yarn Valet Plastic Yarn Bowl
Below you can see the plastic yarn bowl I tried from We Crochet. It’s pretty cute, and while I didn’t have a bad experience using it, I also would say you get what you pay for. A cheap yarn bowl may be enticing, but be careful before you buy one as the quality is almost certainly lesser. Let’s look at the pros and cons of this one.
Size: 6.2″ wide, 3″ high
- The size is nice. A good sized cake can fit inside
- The “suction ring” as its called, does function well. It allows you to take the yarn in and out easily just like a traditional yarn bowl
- Very, very affordable option at just $12.99
- It’s too lightweight. At least if you want to set your yarn on the table while you work, it could fall to the ground if you tug too hard on the yarn
- The yarn can tend to slip out of the ring if you move toward the opening
Overall, I would say this is a GREAT option considering the price. If you NEED to buy a cheap yarn bowl, I would say this is a good choice! However, if you can go up 8 bucks, I personally think its worth investing in a wooden yarn bowl instead. Just my opinion🤷♀️
Buy a plastic yarn bowl on Amazon
Similar to the metal, I could only find one other plastic yarn bowl on option on Amazon. This one looks intriguing to try. It looks very lightweight, so I would be wary of that. But, it does come with a lid, which is interesting.
Speaking of Yarn Bowls with Lids…
It was perfect timing when I found that yarn bowl with a lid, because that is another topic I wanted to talk about!
While I haven’t tried yarn bowls with lids (YET) they seem interesting. Off the top of my head, here are my thoughts on it:
- First of all, I think the idea is intriguing. As long as the lid didn’t get in the way of the yarn, I think it WOULD be helpful. It would be one more safeguard against your yarn falling out and getting tangled. It would also be amazing for storage purposes.
- As I mentioned, my main concern would be that it would impede the yarn from spinning. The whole goal of a yarn bowl is to pull the yarn out smoothly as you crochet or knit. If your yarn cake was too tall, a lid would hurt, not help the situation.
- But that said, I suppose you could always take the lid OFF if you were working with a taller cake!
So all in all, you’ll have to make your own educated guess before buying one of these. Here are a few on amazon that look neat:
Jumbo Yarn Bowls
Now, what if you get SO hooked on yarn bowls that you want to use them with every single project…
And then you have a project that calls yarn that becomes LARGE cakes (like velvet, or super bulky yarn)?
Enter, jumbo yarn bowls! These are harder to come by, and will often be more expensive because they are larger. But if you become a yarn bowl fanatic, they might just be worth it!
How large are jumbo yarn bowls?
From what I have seen, a yarn bowl is considered “jumbo” anytime it is 7″ in diameter or larger. These are generally a better size for jumbo yarn.
Here’s an example of a 7″ yarn bowl on amazon. This one is so unique and it even comes with a lifetime warranty!
In addition, here is one that is 8″ wide:
Another place you can try to find jumbo yarn bowls is on Etsy. Just search it up and you’ll find lots of custom handmade jumbo bowls.
Yarn Bowls at your local craft store – Joann, Michaels, Hobby Lobby, etc.
Now of course, all the yarn bowl options I’ve been showing you up to this point are online buying options. This is great for convenience sake.
However, I know there is ALSO something to be said for seeing a product in person before buying. If you want to feel your yarn bowl before you buy it, feel free to head over to your local Michaels, or Hobby Lobby. Both of these stores have their own selection of yarn bowls.
From what I can tell, Joann doesn’t seem to carry any IN store, but they do have some available online.
DIY Yarn Bowl Ideas
If you’re still reading this post even though you don’t want to BUY a yarn bowl, did you know there are ways to make your own?
That’s right! You can use things like:
- A strainer
- A tissue box
- A clean shoe
- A bucket with a handle
And there are lots more creative ideas! I’m thinking of writing another entire post on making your own DIY yarn bowl…
If this is something you would be interested in, let me know in the comments section!
For now, I truly hope you enjoyed this post all about yarn bowls. Hopefully you learned something new 🙂
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I recently purchased a cone of cotton yarn. Hard to manage when working with it. I put it in a (washed) plastic coffee can. I placed the cone upside down at first, then when it was a bit smaller I flipped it over.
It works well to keep the yarn in place. Plus I can put my hook/needles in the can for storage. It keeps the cat from playing with it.
Great post! To reply to the cake portion of the post… I love winding cakes. I usually wind my skeins into cakes when they start to become floppy due to pulling from the center..
I’d love a yarn bowl, but I usually just sit my cake so that it’s kinda blocked my something heavier on the table, and I use the center pull. A bowl would be much more convenient though, because I could pull the thread from the outside and not have the extra step of untangling my cake once it collapses on itself.
For skeins I use the center pull whenever possible just to avoid the jumping around, but like I said, I like winding it into cakes after a certain point.
I think a post on diy yarn bowls would be great. There are many options.
Also, I have this plastic iced tea jar shaped container that I bought years ago from a craft store that has a hole in the top to thread your skein yarn through, which is handy for both center pull and from around the outside. So I think a glass one would be even better due to its weight.
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