How to Knit a Ball, Two Ways (perfect for Toys or Christmas Ornaments)

Dec 7, 2015 | Knitting Pattern | 15 comments

I often wish there was a book out there explaining how to knit some basic 3D shapes: a sphere, a cube, a pyramid etc. That way we knitters would be free to take the basic shapes and get creative with them. Go crazy with colors or cables or fun stitch patterns, knowing the shape will come out right.

Because I don’t know any book like this, I decided to get the ball rolling myself (pun intended). I sat down at my desk the other day with needles and yarn to work out a good pattern for a basic ball. My first couple tries were all out of proportion, but then I hit on the right formula.

Here are two ways to knit a simple ball, one knit flat and one knit in-the-round on double pointed needles. Both balls turn out the same, but I put up both patterns so you could knit your preference.

 

Simple Ball Pattern as PDF

How to knit a Simple Ball, two ways

A note about materials and gauge:  Using size 8 needles (5 mm) and scrap yarn in heavy worsted/aran weight my balls turned out about 3 inches (7.5 cm) in diameter. Since final size is not too important for this project, you can use any needles and scrap yarn that you have, just make sure that the yarn knits up into a tight, firm fabric so that the final toy holds its shape. This probably means you should pick needles one or two sizes smaller than the recommended size for your yarn. I chose variegated yarns and did not do any color changes for these balls.

Abbreviations:

CO = cast on

k = knit

p = purl

kfb = knit into the front and back of the stitch

k2tog = knit two stitches together as one

ssk = slip, slip, knit. Slip the next two stitches onto the right hand needle as if to knit, stick the tip of your left-hand needle into them from below, and then knit them together as one. 

Simple Ball, Knit Flat

CO 6
Row 1: [kfb] 6 times (12 stitches)
Row 2 (and all even rows through 20): p across
Row 3: [kfb k1 kfb] 4 times (20 stitches)
Row 5: [kfb k3 kfb] 4 times (28 stitches)
Row 7: [kfb k5 kfb] 4 times (36 stitches)
Row 9: k across
Row 11: k across
Row 13: k across
Row 15: [ssk k5 k2tog] 4 times (28 stitches)
Row 17: [ssk k3 k2tog] 4 times (20 stitches)
Row 19: [ssk k1 k2tog] 4 times (12 stitches)
Row 21: [k2tog] 6 times (6 stitches)
Row 22: Cut your yarn leaving a tail of a couple inches. Slip this yarn tail through the remaining 6 stitches and pull tight. 
Finishing: Flip your ball inside out and use the extra yarn tails and a darning needle to sew the ball together. Before you sew it completely shut, flip it right-side-out and fill it with stuffing. Finish sewing the ball together and pull any excess yarn tails into the ball to hide them. 
 

Simple Ball, Knit in the Round

CO 6 stitches and divide evenly onto 3 DPNs
Round 1: [kfb] 6 times (12 stitches)
Round 2 (and every even round through 20): k across
*at this point you can either leave the stitches divided over 3 needles, knowing that the increases and decreases will not give the exact same number of stitches to every needle, or you can divide the stitches over 4 needles so that the stitch could and increase pattern is exactly the same on every needle. For this small, simple ball, I left the stitches on 3 needles. However if I were making a larger ball or one with complicated colorwork, I might switch to 4 needles.
Round 3: [kfb k1 kfb] 4 times (20 stitches)
Round 5: [kfb k3 kfb] 4 times (28 stitches)
Round 7: [kfb k5 kfb] 4 times (36 stitches)
Rounds 8-14: k across
Round 15: [ssk k5 k2tog] 4 times (28 stitches)
Round 17: [ssk k3 k2tog] 4 times (20 stitches)
Round 19: [ssk k1 k2tog] 4 times (12 stitches)
Fill your ball with stuffing
Round 21: [k2tog] 6 times (6 stitches)
Add any additional stuffing if needed
Round 22: Cut your yarn leaving a tail of a couple inches. Slip this yarn tail through the remaining 6 stitches and pull tight. 

Now that we’ve got a basic formula down, the fun part starts. I’m going to knit up a bunch of these guys over the next few days in different colors and with different designs, to hang on my Christmas tree. You totally should too.

A tip: the easiest way to add designs to these balls is to do any stitch/color changes on rows/rounds 8-14, which have no increases or decreases.

I’ll show you what I’ve come up with later this week, and I’d love to see your creations too. Show off your knit balls on Instagram (#yarnbirdy), Facebook (@yarnbirdy) or Ravelry.

*If you want more knit ornament patterns, you can find a Candy Cane pattern here, and a Little Angel pattern here