There are a number of essentials that you, as a crafter, should keep on hand: a pair of needles or crochet hook, stitch markers, a ruler for measuring gauge, and a well-curated collection of yarn. For the latter, you'll want one overlooked accoutrement: a yarn bowl. What is a yarn bowl? It's a practical (and oftentimes pretty) way to keep your yarn tidy and contained while you work. You've probably seen one either online or at your local arts and crafts store.
Yarn bowls are commonly made from wood, porcelain, or clay with curved slots and holes in the side. The yarn rests in the bowl and the working thread is fed through an opening—curved slots, hooks, or holes—in the side. If you're working with multiple skeins at once (as in certain techniques of color knitting) a bowl with multiple holes will prevent the working threads from twisting and knotting together. With the yarn nestled inside, there's no need to worry about your ball rolling freely or getting tangled in knots as you knit or crochet.
When purchasing a bowl, ask yourself a few questions: What yarn weight do you typically use? A skein of super-bulky yarn will require a bigger size bowl than one of lace weight yarn. Do you work with hanks, skeins, or balls? Some bowls are oblong-shaped to accommodate hanks and skeins without the added hassle of rewinding the yarn into a ball. How many strands of yarn will you work with? If your projects plan to use multiple skeins of yarn, you should pick an extra-large bowl. Will you travel with your project? Consider one that's made with a carrying handle, closes with a lid, or has a curved hook for removing yarn when it's needed. Look for a high-walled bowl with a solid weighted base (so it won't tip over), and wood grain that's sanded down or a smooth ceramic glaze (so the working yarn won't snag). And, in terms of style, do you prefer wood versus ceramic or neutral versus eye-catching? That part is up to you, but here are some particular ones that caught our eye.
Twig and Horn
Most yarn bowls are round with a high collar, keeping the yarn in place. This one features a warm sandstone color with a white speckled glaze and the classic J-groove. Although no two are alike, each bowl from this batch is handmade by the artists at Campfire Studio in Maine.
A bowl should cater to your preferences in fashion and function. Case in point, this porcelain bowl by ceramicist Nona Kelhofer is hand incised to provide two options for working yarn through the spiral loop in front or the side holes and it comes in pretty colors with names like "indigo," "blush," "charcoal," and "cream." You can even feel good about your purchase, as a portion of the profits go to charity.
Most bowls aren't made for easy transport either due to their breakable material or sizable bulk. Ceramicist Melanie Evans offers two varieties: a traditional round bowl and an oblong-shaped bowl for larger skeins, both with a handle. The leather strap makes it effortless to carry and feels buttery soft in hand.
Little Wren Pottery
Bowls are made with openings in all shapes and sizes: simple holes, hooks, or star cutouts to thread yarn from fingering sock weight all the way up to super bulky. Some are even incorporated into the design, like this small bird bowl. It features a bulbous shape, a stepped foot ring, and a hole for yarn. Each one is modeled by hand, giving them a unique character of their own.
Dave Yocom's Wood Bowl Creations
Some bowls, like this black walnut one, come with a lid. It's one of the many custom designs by Washington's David Yocom, a woodworker who picked up the practice as an extension of his interests in knitting and spinning yarn. Each bowl is one-of-a-kind and made from all-natural wood like maple, mahogany, and black walnut.
Heckathorn Turned Wood
A bowl can hold more than one bundle of yarn—even two, three, or more! This is the case in Bob Heckathorn's woodwork whose bowls measure up to 43 inches in circumference. His "XXL" yarn bowl and jumbo-size yarn bowl are both designed for containing multiple balls of yarn. The latter even pairs with a removable cup in the center for holding other haberdashery like needles, hooks, and notions.