Best Yarn Cakes
From self-striping yarns to ombre yarn cakes, there's plenty of bargain yarn cakes for you to try!
Yarn cakes not only sound delicious, but they're also fantastic to knit and crochet with!
What are yarn cakes?
The only difference between a regular ball of yarn and a yarn cake is simply in the way the yarn is wound - and a yarn cake looks just as it sounds.. like a cake, with a circular circumference and flat top and bottom! If you've ever wound yarn from a skein using a wool winder, then you will already be familiar with the shape of yarn cakes!
Yarn cakes have become increasingly popular in recent years for a variety of reasons. Firstly, one of the benefits of a yarn cake over a yarn ball is that a cake is able to contain more yarn (especially so with finer yarns), so rather than having to buy 2 or 3 balls of yarn for a project you may only need to buy one cake, and you can now find many designs for projects such as shawls that have been specifically designed to be made with just a single yarn cake. This does mean yarn cakes will often be slightly more expensive that single balls, but you're almost always getting more value for money when you add it up.
Secondly, many knitters and crocheters find them fun to work with. The shape of them means they won't roll all over the place when you're knitting or crocheting with them, and they're nice and compact - so easy to just throw in a bag if you're knitting or crocheting on the go. Most also come with what is called a 'centre pull', which is where you can easily access the end of the yarn in the centre of the ball (its often labelled to make things even easier). This not only helps to stop the cake rolling around as you work, but also with cakes containing stripes or gradients means you have the option of deciding in which direction you want your colours to go.
While you can get yarn cakes in solid colours, one of the most valued features of yarn cakes is that you can see all of the colours that are contained within the whole cake, as well as how long or short the colour transitions are - something you can't see if it's wound in a ball! This is the reason that most yarn producers use the yarn cake format for self-striping or gradient yarns, and these are the main sorts of yarn cakes we'll mainly be focussing on in this post.
If you fancy checking out some of our other buyers guide to help you find the best yarn for you, why not check out our pick of the best ombre yarns, or try something different with our pick of the best novelty yarns and best recycled yarns.
Best yarn cakes
Lion Brand Mandala Yarn Cakes
The Mandala yarn cakes from Lion Brand Yarns are a great option for your first foray into yarn cakes. It's a 100% acrylic yarn that is available in a wide range of colour combinations, from bright tones, monochromes, pretty pastels and warm or neutral shades. A single cake contains 540 metres of DK yarn - more than enough for a scarf, small shawl or other knit or crochet accessory projects. The various colours generally have strong definitive changes from one to the other, making it great for projects that you want to have clear stripes (some people will even split the cake into sections to obtain the neatest stripes). It's also an incredibly easy-to-care-for yarn, being machine washable, fine in a tumble dryer and can even be dry cleaned - but as it's acrylic don't try and iron it!
Buy the Lion Brand Mandala yarn cakes from Amazon
King Cole Harvest DK yarn cakes
If you're after a yarn cake which has more natural and calming tones at its heart, then we think you'll love the King Cole Harvest yarn cakes. It's another DK yarn cake that is great for creating stripes, but it's interesting dye effect means you'll get slight variations rather than completely solid shades, which will help to soften your colours and give them a more relaxed feeling. It's another acrylic yarn, but this one boasts an extra 10% of alpaca fibres, helping to give you that extra added level of softness and a natural fibre halo. These 150g yarn cakes come with 535 metres on each cake which gives you plenty of yarn to play with - all that you have to do is decide which of the 8 lovely colour combinations you like best!
Buy the King Cole Harvest Dk yarn cakes from Amazon
Paintbox Yarns Chunky Pots Yarn Cakes
For those of you who like your yarns on the chunky side, then you've got to try the Paintbox Yarns Chunky Pots! Made to the same specifications and standards as their popular Simply Chunky yarn range (so you can easily mix them together if you like), the chunky pots are a riot of self-striping colour! There's 13 colour combos to choose from, mainly with nice bright shades but a few with some more subtle tones too. It's another 100% acrylic yarn with 272m on a 200g cake, and will stitch up super-quick thanks to it's lovely consistent chunky weight.
Buy the Paintbox yarns chunky pots yarn cakes from Lovecrafts
Rico Creative Cotton Stripes Yarn Cakes
Rico Design always bring fun and interesting yarns to their Creative range, and their Creative Cotton Stripes DK is no exception! To start with, even though it's 100% cotton it's surprisingly soft, which is almost certainly helped by its creative construction. The main strand of yarn is similar to a loose roving-style yarn (more common with wool fibres, where the yarn has barely any twist to it), but is then contained with a single strand twisted around this to keep it all together. The result is a squishy DK yarn, which has ever-so-subtle differences in thickness, akin to slub yarns. You get 480m on a 250g yarn cake and there's 5 colour combinations to try, all of which use repeating sections of 4 colours which due to the dye effect create a lovely marled appearance.
Buy the Rico Creative Cotton Stripes yarn cakes from Lovecrafts
Cotton Kings Sultan Deluxe Yarn Cakes
If you're thinking of making a lacy shawl or pair of summer socks which really show off a fabulous colour gradient, then you should definitely try the Cotton Kings Sultan Deluxe yarn cakes! This 100% cotton 4ply yarn features lovely long colour changes running through the length of these whopping 1000m ombre yarn cakes, and are available in 33 stunning colour combos. Its also OEKO-TEX certified so you know there's been no nasty chemicals used in it's production, and if you fancy trying one but don't know what to make with it, there's 35 free patterns that use this specific yarn on the Hobbii website.
Buy the Cotton Kings Sultan Deluxe yarn cakes from Hobbii
Lion Brand Ferris Wheel Yarn Cakes
Here's a yarn that is great for if you want a funky colourful yarn cake but are on a tight budget. The Lion Brand Ferris Wheel yarn cakes are made up of 100% acrylic, but you're in for a surprise as this is a roving-style yarn, meaning the fibres are almost felted together and only having a very minimal twist. The result is a soft and lightweight yarn with a fluffy felted feel that is really quite impressive for a 100% acrylic yarn. The colours are also fabulous, producing stripes with a lovely ombre feel to them and interesting blends in colour that create an interesting finished fabric. An 85g yarn cake of this aran yarn gives you a generous 247m, and with 12 shades to choose from we think this could easily become one of your favourite ombre yarn cakes!
Buy the Lion Brand Ferris Wheel yarn cakes from Amazon
Scheepjes Whirl Yarn Cakes
We couldn't possibly write a post about the best yarn cakes without including one of our all-time favourites - the Scheepjes Whirl yarn cakes! These epic 1000m ombre yarn cakes are one of our go-to yarns for lacy crochet shawls as the combination of 60% cotton and 40% acrylic keeps them both lightweight and breathable. It's a 4ply yarn with long beautiful colour changes and a generous consistent twist which makes it easy to work. It's the colours that are the real star of the show though, with some incredible gradients to be found in the huge 54 colour combinations available! It can also be combined with their Scheepjes Whirlette yarn, which comes as 100g cakes of solid colour yarns that will perfectly match with the inner or outer colours of the Whirl cakes.
Buy the Scheepjes Whirl yarn cakes from TheKnittingNetwork
Sirdar Snuggly Pattercake Yarn Cakes
Most of the yarns we've look at so far are all pretty bright and colourful, but if you're after something a little bit gentler then we think you'll love the Sirdar Snuggly Pattercake yarn cake. It's specifically been designed for baby soft skin with a blend of 70% Acrylic and 30% Nylon fibres, making it perfect for baby blankets and other projects for your little ones. This Dk yarn is available in 8 lovely pastel colour combos that create lovely soft stripes with 498m on each 150g yarn cake.
Buy the Sirdar Snuggly Pattercake yarn cakes from Lovecrafts
Unique Yarns Plastic Yarn Cakes
So while the majority of yarn cakes are produced to enable users to see the range of colours, they're not exclusively used for multi-coloured yarn. So if we're going to show you a solid colour yarn cake, we wanted to make it something special - which brings us to Unique Yarns. They're one of our favourite brands for pushing the boundaries and developing new and innovative yarns, and their Plastic yarn cake is no exception! Made from 100% recycled plastic bottles it's eco friendly and as well as being hand-dyed, the nature of the plastic content means it also has a slightly translucent effect. It's great for projects you want to be strong and sturdy (such as hand-made bags), although maybe a bit too rough for against your skin. These 50g cakes come with 178m on each cake and are available in 5 colours - and if plastic isn't your kinda thing, check out their other interesting yarns such as their colour-changing or glow in the dark yarns!
Buy the Unique Yarns Plastic Yarn cakes from Etsy
Yarn Cakes Lucky Bag
Feeling lucky? Then this last one's for all you wild cards! Take the stress out of choosing your yarns and roll the dice with this Lucky Bag of Yarn Cakes from Hobbii. Each mystery bag comes with 4 yarn cakes inside, but who know's what they'll be? Your cakes may be without labels (which is part of the reason they appear in this bargain bag), which means you might have to put your sleuthing hat on to figure out which yarns you've got. However, we had a sneaky peak at the reviews to see what other people have received and they all suggest that this lucky bag is most definitely good value for money!
Buy the Yarn cakes lucky bag from Hobbii
We hope you’ve enjoyed our pick of the best yarn cakes, don’t forget if you need any help with your crochet stitches you can always check out our crochet for beginners guide, and for knitters check out our knitting for beginners guide. And if you’re looking to treat yourself, check out our list of the best crochet hooks or the best knitting needles.
Matt Spiers is a crochet artist and designer who has been overseeing Gathered's crochet articles for over 2 years. He previously worked as Digital Assistant for Simply Crochet magazine and is our in house video editing pro. What started as a hobby a decade ago led to Matt developing a passion (and then a career) with crochet. As well as still regularly writing and designing for Simply Crochet magazine, Matt is a crochet artist in his own right, having displayed and created crochet installations at festivals and fibre events across the UK. You can keep up to date with Matt at @onemancrochet on Instagram.