Guest Post: What Is a Yarn Bowl and How Do I Pick One?

A brief introduction

Hey guys, my name is Melanie Evans, I have a Master’s degree in ceramics, I’ve been working with clay for about twenty years, teaching art classes for a little over 10 years and I’ve been selling at markets for the last few years since opening my business Melware Cermics.  I also make yarn bowls.

What is a yarn bowl?

A couple of years ago I did a friendly Etsy search of my ceramic competition as I ventured into having my own production pottery business.  I typed in the words “handmade bowls,” and of course saw A LOT of listings.  During my ‘research’ I saw bowls with funny looking cut outs and I thought, “How can you eat soup out of a bowl with holes in it?!?”  I looked a little closer and read a description before realizing it was a bowl for yarn…it was a yarn bowl.  I didn’t even know those existed until that moment, but I knew I needed one!

Besides making things out of clay, I also like to make stuff out of yarn.  Years before I even became a ceramic artist both of my grandma’s showed me how to knit and crochet.  Even with their loving tutelage, I would still only consider myself a very beginning intermediate knitter with occasional projects in hand.  As I’ve made things over the years I’ve recognized a problem most yarn crafters have, the yarn gets ‘stuck’ as you try to pull from the ball or skein, it also has a tendency to bounce and roll away.  Having a bowl with a hole or hook allows the strand to be easily pulled while keeping the yarn from getting away from you.  The yarn bowl was the perfect solution.

How to pick a yarn bowl

The thing I’ve learned from making and looking at yarn bowls is that not all yarn bowls are made alike and there are a lot of styles to choose from.  As you think of the things you or your loved one make you can pick a yarn bowl that will function beautifully for all of your knitting/crafting needs.  Also, in my search through yarn bowl images I noticed MOST bowls did not have a handle, the one’s that did have handles looked big and clunky and even uncomfortable to hold.  Because I had recently been learning leather crafting it just made sense to use leather in combination with the ceramic form to be a functional handle that didn’t distract from the overall design.  We want it to look good, so WE look good!

Now it’s time to think for a little bit…if this bowl is for you or someone you love what kinds of projects do you/he/she enjoy?  Do they like to make lots of small things with hand dyed yarns?  Or do they prefer grabbing great colors from popular craft stores?  Do they have a place they always sit and knit, or are they crocheting on the move?  It also helps to pick out the right color so it can be the perfect gift, not just a functional one.  Once you’ve had a little minute to think of the answers let me explain the different types of bowl designs I have and which one will be the best for you…

The first and most popular bowl is the “Regular Round Bowl” with the hook cut out on the front.  It is small enough to be easily transported and the hook shape allows the project being worked on to be slipped in and out whenever necessary.  Usually the yarn that goes in these round bowls are balls that have been hand wound or come small straight from the store.  This bowl is meant for one ball at a time and for smaller projects like dishcloths, socks, or baby clothes.

The second style is one that I’ve just recently offered and it’s similar to the first one.  I call them my “Belly Button Bowls”.  They are meant to be used for projects that require the yarn to be cut or finished before removing the piece.  Once you start knitting you can’t easily slip it in and out of the bowl, the benefit being you know where your yarn is all the time and it won’t accidently unhook or get tangled mid knit.   

The last and probably the most functional bowl (in my opinion) is the longer “Oblong Bowl”.  I came up with this design after chatting with my sister-in-law about what could make the yarn bowl better.  She mentioned buying yarn from the store in the long skein and always wanting to be able to just use it right away without having to worry about it getting tangled after you take the paper sleeve off.  So what if the yarn bowl could be the same shape as the yarn it was holding. Genius. It took a little bit of designing and a different type of ceramic process but it was worth it!  The length not only holds the yarn easily it can also hold the needles or hooks AND a pair of scissors (since I can NEVER find mine).

During this process of making yarn bowls and talking about them with lots of friends I realized there are a few people in the world who don’t knit or crochet and didn’t really have a need for the yarn bowls even though they really liked the design.  Not wanting to leave any one out from the fun I was having I decided to make a plain bowl with a handle, kind of like a basket.  Now you can have a little ceramic basket for all the things most people have laying around all the time.  The “Basket Bowl” can now be a really stylish hidey spot.  Maybe for chocolate.  Or your keys. Or just chocolate…

I am always trying to improve my designs to make them the most functional, so let me know if you have any thoughts or suggestions and I’ll add to my yarn bowl prototype collection as I continue to make beautiful things that function beautifully.  

Thanks for reading!

Check out my Instagram @melwareceramics and Facebook page for updates and products.

Happy crafting