children’s (and adults’) project: the magic yarn ball

by Abigail Percy on 25/04/2006

in Kids Crafts

finished magic wool ball

magic wool ball

This project comes from a warm, wonderful, old-fashioned book called The Children’s Year (Hawthorn Press). It’s a sweet project for kids who are old enough to handle small objects (otherwise it’s a choking hazard) and old enough to appreciate the charm of a magic yarn ball. It’s especially fun for those who knit, crochet, or do other yarny crafts.

And it’s so simple, it’s brilliant. Basically, a child (or adult) wraps cool little treasures up in a ball of yarn, and gives it as a gift. As the recipient crafts with the yarn the treasures fall out one by one, and they discover the fun as they knit or crochet.

This project is perfect for swaps. In fact, I made one to swap with my six-year-old friend Sophia. Here’s how I made mine.

Start with something round-ish for the center, and begin wrapping one end of your yarn around the object. I used a superball, but a stone, nut, large bead, or bottlecap pincushion would also do nicely.

magic center

Keep wrapping and adding objects. I added squirrel and sushi stickers, thrifted quilting poms, pieces of ribbon and vintage eyelet trim, and a few large beads. Children might also want to include temporary tattoos, tiny bits of crayons, special leaves or rocks, or small crafting tools. For example a knitter might appreciate a plastic tapestry needle, a few point protectors, or a special stitch marker.

magic poms

magic squirrels

At the end of the ball, finish with a few lovely objects that will show, and secure the yarn end. On Sophia’s, I added a ribbon rose that I bought at a stationery shop, which had a handy piece of floral wire in it to add to the yarn end’s security.

Now I want to make adult versions for other knitters and sewists. Anybody up for a swap?

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For more kids craft, creative ideas and activities go to the Action Pack website

{ 38 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Heather April 25, 2006 at 1:07 am

What a nice idea!!! I love this! As a – wannabe crafter/been trying to teach myself to crochet for years/am thinking about ambitious sewing projects like quilts – person I would definitely be up for a swap!!


2 mamak April 25, 2006 at 1:14 am

i love this book, too- and thought this was a brilliant idea! yours looks lovely. what a fun idea for a swap!


3 Melissa April 25, 2006 at 1:15 am

That is really neat! I think a swap like that would be cool too. Way less expensive than something like Secret Pal.


4 vegasandvenice April 25, 2006 at 1:44 am

What a fabulous idea for a gift and a swap! Love it!


5 kristin April 25, 2006 at 2:37 am

love, love, love, this idea!!! i would DEFINATELY be up for a swap!!!


6 tammie April 25, 2006 at 2:47 am

oooh, fun!
i’d be up for it


7 Weirdbunny April 25, 2006 at 3:07 am

That would be brilliant for a long journey. Everytime there saw a red car, they could unravel the wool to the next surprise!!!


8 sueb April 25, 2006 at 3:28 am

What a great swap idea !


9 sueb April 25, 2006 at 3:32 am

great idea for a swap !



10 domesticali April 25, 2006 at 3:38 am

I was so excited seeing this and thinking it would be a perfect idea for my swap partner, but that’s YOU! Aaaargh.


11 Anne Margaret April 25, 2006 at 3:57 am

How much fun would this swap be?! I’d love to join!


12 PoMo April 25, 2006 at 7:48 am

Sounds like a fun swap idea!


13 Beth April 25, 2006 at 7:50 am

I’d do a swap for this. What a great idea.


14 rebecca April 25, 2006 at 8:41 am

i’m definitely in for a swap – let me know!!


15 mariannealice April 25, 2006 at 9:39 am

Looks like fun …count me in!


16 Magfly April 25, 2006 at 2:32 pm

Fun! And prefect for all the funny buttons I’ve collected over time. Swappetyswap!


17 Catana April 25, 2006 at 7:49 pm

What a great idea! It reminds me of the Xmas thingy we did for my dad one year when we were pretty broke. We tied a lot of small gifts together with twine, and buried them in a box with lots of paper. As you pulled each one out, the next one would work its way up. We put the biggest one at the bottom as a surprise.

Not too many swaps interest me, but I’d enjoy this one.


18 Julie April 25, 2006 at 8:56 pm

How fun! I did this with crepe paper and little toys, stickers and candies for my daughter’s birthday party last year. The kids had so much fun tearing away at the crepe paper and finding the treasures. I never thought to do it with yarn though!


19 makingtime April 25, 2006 at 10:32 pm

This reminds me of pass the parcel, which is a load of fun.


20 maize hutton April 25, 2006 at 11:21 pm

Oooo.. me, me, me! I’d love to be in a swap like this!


21 mrspilkington April 26, 2006 at 1:25 am

thanks for the post — i love that book…and you picked a great project to highlight. i’d also be interested in a swap.


22 Liesl April 26, 2006 at 6:20 am

I love this idea for my toddler, just because she likes to unroll the toilet paper and pull the kleenex out of the box. I’m sure she’d love to unwind a ball of yarn and find treats inside it (with supervision, of course). Thanks for the idea!


23 melissa April 26, 2006 at 7:51 pm

i would love to swap for sure!


24 eireann April 26, 2006 at 11:33 pm

my parents used to make these for us out of crêpe paper. we would get them when a sibling was born.


25 Emma April 27, 2006 at 5:32 pm

Great idea! I have actually never seen anyhting like it, but I would LOVE to participate in a Magic Yarn Ball Swap.


26 Kristen (Thoughts from the Bus Stop) April 27, 2006 at 5:43 pm

What a sweet, touching gift – loads of fun to make and a double gift for the recipient. Thanks for flagging it up.


27 rebecca April 30, 2006 at 9:23 am

anxiously awaiting….. is this swap a go?


28 Emily May 6, 2006 at 4:38 am

My friend just gave me one of these, so if there is a swap I would love to be involved, as i’m sure my friend would be as well!


29 Anastacia May 25, 2006 at 9:02 pm

Cool beans! This is a very neat idea, and one i had never heard of before. Thanks for the pictures/how to/ideas!


30 amanda May 31, 2006 at 9:08 am

lovely! signed up :) and swap-bot is the coolest!


31 luciasaeth May 31, 2006 at 10:25 pm

I wanna sign up also.


32 sarah June 11, 2006 at 3:40 am

Ohhh!! How fun I would love to sign up also. Will we be notified one the swap is organized


33 Pooch July 4, 2006 at 1:27 am

This is SO clever!! I would love to join this if it isn’t too late. If so, will there be another one coming soon?

Thanks for sharing this creative idea!



34 boodely March 5, 2007 at 1:07 am

When I was a kid and had just learned to knit my aunt and cousins gave me a giant yarn ball like this, into which they had wrapped candy. Then they got a sweater started on the needles. I think the project was a little too ambitious, but it was a very fun present.


35 Vik June 21, 2007 at 6:42 pm

Wonderful idea! Thanks for sharing.


36 Retro August 27, 2007 at 11:29 pm

I personally love vintage toys. It’s fun finding the toys you had as a kid, or the ones you always wanted.


37 N. Melkonian November 13, 2007 at 6:36 am

Was wondering if anyone knows the title of an old children’s book where a girl gets a ball of yarn as a gift and as she knits the gifts and candy fall out. I think there was a necklace in the center as the last gift. It is a favorite book of mine and my sisters but we cannot remember the title! Any ideas would be appreciated.


38 Sara October 11, 2010 at 12:00 pm

I am participating in my first yarn ball swap this month. It should be exciting to see what all the participants come up with. Thanks for sharing this fab idea.


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