Judy's 12-Section Yarnball

Photo of yarnball This garter stitch ball is about 4 or 4.5 inches in diameter -- about the size of a grapefruit -- and is shaped by short rows. It's a good for using up odds and ends of yarns of different colors. Each section takes about 4 yards of yarn.

This is a perfect toy for a child about a year old, just at the age they begin to walk -- it's soft, easy to hold onto, machine washable and dryable (if made and stuffed with synthetic materials), and can be made in bright, attractive colors.

The pattern is based on a 10-section ball pattern posted by Valle to the Knitlist at Christmastime, 1995. The original pattern is archived at Emily Way's Wool Works. One reason I changed it to 12 sections was because 12 is divisible by more numbers, so the possibilities for color combinations are increased. My favorite (shown here in the inside-out version) is red - white - blue - white. Also see photos of both versions, the "right-side out" and the "inside-out," in progress.

And other people have been inspired to create their own variations on the yarnball! Take a look at a Moon and a Swirl.

Please notice that although I describe this ball as being knitted in "sections," the sections are not separate pieces, just one color wedge after another! The photos of the in-progress yarnballs show what I mean.

Materials

4-ply (worsted weight) knitting yarn, one or two or more colors
Pair of #4 (US) needles
Polyester fiber filling or old nylon stockings or other stuffing

Note that the needles are small for the size of the yarn. This makes a dense fabric so the filling won't show through.

Cast on 28 stitches.

Instructions for one section

Row 1: turn [pick up or attach new color if you're going to change] and knit 28 stitches
Row 2: turn and knit 20 stitches
Row 3: turn and knit 18 stitches
Rows 4, 6, 8, and 10: repeat row 2
Rows 5, 7, and 9: repeat row 3
(In other words, each row takes you two stitches closer to the top.)

Repeat rows 1 through 10 until you have made 12 sections, one after the other.

Each section starts at same end; I call this the "top". (Don't cut off the old yarn; it will be there waiting for you when you start the next section in that color.)

Bind off when you get to the end of the last section. Leave about a 12" tail to use for sewing up. Notice that since this is garter stitch, on one side there is a sharp boundary between the colors of the adjacent wedges, and on the other side the adjoining colors are interlinked. Decide which side you want to be the outside.

With a tapestry needle, run the tail around through the end stitches of the rows and pull tight. (To make it extra firm, run the yarn around again.) Continue sewing up the open side about 2/3 of the way.

Stuff the ball as firmly as you like and sew up the rest of the way. Run the yarn through the end stitches of the rows (twice if you like) and pull tight. Make a knot and run the end of the yarn into the ball and cut off.

Hint: If you're going to use the "inside" as the side that shows (that is, the side where the colors of adjoining segments interlock), knit one last row in the color of the section you will be stitching to, then cast off. This will give you the last set of interlocking stitches, and let you sew together two edges that match in color.

Now here's an attempt at charting how this pattern works. Each dash and arrowhead is one stitch. Cast on 28 stitches, and knit as follows:

 "Top" end of ball
/
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - >
                < - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
                - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - >
            < - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
            - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - >
        < - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
        - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - >
    < - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - >
< - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Make 12 sections and bind off, leaving a long tail. Sew up and stuff the ball.

Bonus: A Small Yarnball

This one is a lot smaller. Keeping to my citrus theme, it's about the size of a tangerine (or a hackysack), 2 to 2 1/2 inches in diameter.

Cast on 17 stitches
Make first section, as follows:
Row 1: turn and knit to the end
Row 2: turn and knit 12 sts, leaving 5 on the needle
row 3: turn and knit 7 sts, leaving 5 on the needle
Row 4: turn and knit 10 sts, leaving 2 on the needle
Row 5: turn and knit 13 sts, leaving 2 on the needle
row 6: turn and knit to the end
Row 7: turn and knit to the end
Row 8: turn and knit to the end
(you're back at the top)
Repeat rows 1 to 8 until you have completed ten sections.
Bind off, sew and stuff.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - >
          < - - - - - - - - - - -
          - - - - - - >
    < - - - - - - - - -
    - - - - - - - - - - - - >
< - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - >
< - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Hope you have fun making these! And feel free to pass the patterns on to your friends.
© Judy Gibson, January 1996


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Judy Gibson
Descanso, California
Email to jgibson (at) cts (dot) com