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How to make a Magic Ball!

Have you heard of a Magic Ball?

It’s a ball of yarn that changes colors and textures as you work. It’s something offered by a number of artisan yarn makers… but it’s also something you can make yourself with your leftover yarn!

Magic Ball how-to

Besides ending up with an awesomely fun end-product… you’ll finally get to use up all of those weird leftover pieces of yarn that are too small (you thought!) to do anything with! How great is that?

Perfect for the scrap-a-long!


Scrap-a-long

Magic Balls are fun to make… but they’re even more fun if you have a project in mind!

How about joining in on our scrap-a-long?

Ready to get started?

You’ll need two things. One, gather all of the leftover yarn bits that are lurking in your stash. You know what I mean. They’re too small for their own projects, but too big to toss out. You keep thinking you’ll do something with them…

pile of scraps

And a tapestry needle.

bent-tip tapestry needle

(mine is a bent-tip needle, but that’s by no means necessary for this. All you need is a needle that’s big enough to fit your yarn through the eye.)

Okay, now we’re ready to start!

We’re going to make our magic ball by joining all of these leftover yarns together using a technique called the ‘Russian Join’. The Russian join allows you to fasten yarns together without a knot, and it has the advantage of working with any type of yarn (unlike the ‘spit splice’, which relies on 100% wool yarn.)

In terms of grouping your yarns together, you’ll want to group yarns in a way that is pleasing to you. Some folks prefer the random approach, but I like creating a color theme (check out How to organize your scraps for help!). For my magic ball, I’m attaching only various shades of purple. I also recommend using yarns of the same weight. My magic ball is composed entirely of worsted weight yarns.

How to do the Russian Join

Step 1: Thread your tapestry needle with yarn A (to start, yarn A will be an arbitrary choice. As you continue, yarn A will be the yarn that is attached to your ball).

How to do the russian join

Step 2: About 2 inches from the end of the yarn, insert your tapestry needle through the yarn. Split the plies, and work the needle through the yarn for about an inch, then pull the needle through, bringing the yarn tail through this bit of yarn.

How to do a russian Join

Notice that you have a loop!

Making a russian join

Step 3: Okay, now, thread yarn B (the other yarn) through the tapestry needle, and stick the tapestry needle through the loop in yarn A.

making a russian join

Step 4: About 2 inches from the end of yarn B’s tail, insert the tapestry needle through the yarn… just like you did before.

doing the russian join

Now you’ve made a second loop, joined onto yarn A!

russian join

When you pull the ends, you’ll notice the two yarns are fully joined! Hooray!

completed russian join
To make a magic ball, keep attaching yarns, one after another. You’ll probably find it helpful to wind the ball up as you go, particularly if you’re using long leftover lengths of yarn.

Once you’ve run out of leftovers (or have a ball that’s big enough), you can use your magic ball for any project! When knitted or crocheted, it’ll create an awesome striping-effect! And, you don’t need to do anything special at the joins, just keep working!

Isn’t that fun?

And doesn’t it make you want to gather up (and use) your leftovers?

18 Responses to “How to make a Magic Ball!”

  1. Stephanie says:

    Thank you so much for this tutorial! I have a big bucket of scraps that I’ve been collecting for years and couldn’t bring myself to throw out. Now I can’t wait to get started making magic balls. I look forward to reading your posts every day. Keep up the great work!!
    Stephanie

  2. Vanessa says:

    I’ve heard of the Russian Join but for some reason, I always thought it was another term for spit splicing. I can never seem to make spit splicing to work for me (even with 100% wool yarn) but this seems so much easier!

  3. Corrie B says:

    This is fantastic, I’ve wanted to know something like this for ages. Thank you.

  4. Helen Welsh says:

    Oh wow! That is like magic! Can’t wait to try this on all my leftovers – thank you so much for sharing this :-) Helen

  5. kim says:

    Thanks so much – I was really looking forward to this post!

  6. Patty says:

    Thanks for another great blog. I have a question ….is there a length of yarn I should be going for on each color? I have some larger scraps that I think I will need to cut to achieve the striping I want, but am unsure how long to cut it? 3, 5, 10 yards? And is there a min/max number of colors per ball? Thanks again.

    • Stacey says:

      The length will depend on how many color changes you want. For example, if you’re making an animal that needs 100 yds of yarn, and you want 10 color changes, than each one shouldn’t be longer than 10 yards.

      The bigger the animal, the longer each piece can be :)

      I think the more colors, the better! But, the more colors, the more time-consuming the ball-making is… so it’s up to you :)

      • Patty says:

        Thanks Stacey, as usual you make the process easy to understand & very logical. :) And I over-think the whole thing ;)
        I’m off to create! Have a wonderful day.

  7. Lori says:

    Hi thanks for showing us this! I do something like this but don’t do the loopy part. I ” sew” thread “a” into thread “b” then thread “b” into thread”a” . Make sense?? Let me know if u would like a “show” ? I think I could to it in pictures like u did. If it would help.

  8. Tora says:

    Great tutorial. Am going to start using this on the scrapy granny blanket I am working on. x

  9. Lisa says:

    Thank you so much-awesome . Love learning new things; new knitter!!

  10. Andi Beebe says:

    Thank you so much! I was too late to purchase one of your Magic Balls. I hadn’t heard of the Russian Join so I started searching. 352 hits on Ravelry, but none explained WHAT it is…only troubleshooting when you use yarn that has been joined. This is VERY helpful. I can’t wait to get off work and start doing this with my stash! Then I’m going to make a crazy colored large owl. I only wish I’d known this when I made my huge crazy quilt. Hundreds of ends weaved in.

  11. [...] A magic ball. Tutorials everywhere, here’s one from Fresh Stitches [...]

  12. Mariana says:

    Thanks Stacey!!!
    I’m crocheting a shawl, and when my fist skein ended, I remembered about this post, and It worked!!! Now I’m using my second skein and there isn’t any knot, squeeeee!!!

  13. […] is usually done by just tying them together, or, if you want to be a little fancier, doing a Russian join to more seamlessly join two yarns […]

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