Why The Yarn Channel Keyhole Is Important

Many people buy yarn bowls by looks alone, unaware of the varied functions a proper yarn bowl serves to the knitter and crocheter. Here is the difference between a right and left handed yarn bowl, and why a properly positioned yarn channel keyhole is important to you.

The yarn channel cut into the side of a yarn bowl is useful for allowing you to place and remove your work-in-progress from the bowl without cutting the yarn. This is great when you want to switch projects, or are taking your project with you on the run.

In most yarn bowls that feature a yarn channel, the end of the yarn channel usually has a channel keyhole, a circular section. This is the location where yarn should leave the bowl to be held and knitted in your hand. When the yarn travels across the low angled keyhole, the keyhole helps smooth out traveling yarn to help promote proper tension.


When a yarn bowl helps to maintain a proper tension, the hands and wrists of a knitter have less stress. This allows for more enjoyable knitting and helps to make more uniform stitches.

Right handed yarn bowl vs Left handed yarn bowl


The angle of a yarn channel keyhole should also accommodate your knitting style to get the best from your bowl. See the image showing the knitting twins.


If a person is a left handed knitter, or a Continental knitter (a right handed person knitting with yarn set to their left side), then they will likely find better enjoyment from a left handed yarn bowl.


Notice the tension keyhole of both bowls in the image to the left. See how the yarn naturally wants to flow from the keyhole to the knitters' hands?

Knitting with the wrong handed bowlNow see in the image to the right how a
wrong-handed-bowl-for-you offers little to no help in maintaining proper tension as the yarn slides around the yarn channel, up and down, as the person knits. The bowl helps the yarn ball stay put, so it is some help, but not as much help as it should be with the tension control.

Getting the right bowl for your style of knitting and/or crocheting is important. It helps you to keep the right tension for your yarn project while helping to reduce some of the stress in your fingers and wrists.

Here's what other people had to say about Cindy Douglass Yarn Bowls.

"Cindy,...The yarn bowl is awesome! helps me keep the tension right." ~Jessica S.

"I sit on the bed and knit.  I was happily surprised that the bowl sits so steadily on the bed.  I don't know how I've lived without one of these for so long!" ~ Bridget M.

"I am absolutely delighted to have this yarn bowl. I never had used one before but am spoiled now and won't crochet without one again! " ~ Maggie B.

"My BEAUTIFUL yarn bowl arrived safe and sound today!!! I've had several yarn bowls over the years and can honestly say that this is BY FAR, not only the most functional but also the most beautiful! A million thank-you's for creating such beautiful & quality crafted tools for us to use and gaze upon! "- Kat S.

I was asked to show this info from the knitter's perspective. So I came up with a quick sketch which I hope helps! 

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Couldnt a left handed knitter

Couldnt a left handed knitter turn a right handed bowl around? Like face it towards them and to the side and this have the same affect as being a krft handed bowl?

Yes, they could BUT...

This is a great question. And technically the answer is, yes, you could turn the bowl so that it faced backwards to allow the yarn to come out in the correct position.
BUT... I'm left handed. I can also use any tourist coffee cup with those lovely and/or funny designs on them. It always drives me bonkers, however, that I have to "make do" and I never get to see the design - the reason I bought that cup- when I drink coffee because I have to use that cup facing backwards. That's the reason I make both left and right handed yarn bowls. Some people really enjoy the design of the yarn bowls as they face forward.

Ambidextrous knitters

This is interesting to me, as a variously ambidextrous knitter. My knitting style changes according to the pattern or even the duration of the knitting session. In rows/rounds that are mostly knit sts, I usually hold "continental" or in my left hsnd, but for mostly purl rows I favour the right. For ribbing, it varies. If one hand or wrist gets tired, I change sides.

Thank you, Helen.

I hadn't even known, or considered, that a person could be "variously ambidextrous". That is pretty amazing! It's a good thing, then, that the bowl can be adjusted to the correct position according to the hand you are using. Thank you for telling me about your knitting style.

Hi Can you make a mirror


Can you make a mirror image from knitters perspective showing the bowl shape and channel direction? Its hard to flip the image around mentally. If there could be a diagram for the yarn bowl on a table across from you too.. Thank you for the post!

Image from Knitter's Perspective Posted for Yvette

Hi Yvette,

That was an interesting exercise! I hope the image I came up with, and posted at the end of the article, helps you visualize this better. :)

T-shaped keyhole??

Hi Yvette,
Thanks for your description of a good yarn bowl. Can the yarn bowl keyhole not be forked so that one bowl would accommodate a left- or right-handed person or one who is ambidexterous?

Randy, yes, that idea could work.

I've not tried an upside down T but I've seen another potter use a rounded W shape with shortened sides (almost like an anchor shape) to accommodate either side usage. I personally didn't care for the look, and there are technical issues to keep both sides of the bowl round, so haven't tried to duplicate it.
But if you like straight lines and intersections - and put a nice keyhole on the ends, your idea could work.

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