How to Wind a Bobbin With Yarn

Two popular knitting techniques, Intarsia and Fair Isle use multiple colors of yarn. Fair Isle is traditionally done in the round and can use many colors, but only two are used per round. The unused color is stranded or carried across the back of the work. In contrast, Intarsia is traditionally knitted flat and can use many colors on one row. For both methods, knitters wind two or three yard lengths of the different colors of yarn into bobbins to keep the yarn from getting tangled. You can buy plastic bobbins at most craft stores, but you can also wind butterfly bobbins that are light and easy to use.

With your palm facing you, bring the yarn between your index and middle finger. Leave a 6-inch tail on the back of your hand.

Guide the yarn under then over your thumb, across your palm, under and over your pinkie finger, and back to the thumb. Continue winding this figure-eight until you run out of yarn.

Bring the tail from the back of your hand to the palm. Loop it loosely over your index finger, over the front of the yarn butterfly in your palm and behind it. Thread the end through the loop on index finger, and pull gently. Repeat this step, and remove the bobbin from your fingers. It is secured by the two loop knots you just made.

Pull the other end of yarn to release it from the bobbin and use in your knitting.


  • You can use the same technique to wind bobbins for tapestry weaving.