Since I began researching and writing for this blog, I've been seeing and reading about yarn bowls, those little slotted ceramic bowls that are designed to hold and dispense your yarn while you knit. Many of those for sale are handmade, and very lovely, desirable objects in their own right, but I doubt I'll ever be buying one for myself. Granted, I haven't tried using one, and perhaps they have attributes I'm not aware of (they're supposed to prevent the ball from tangling and rolling), but I can't see how they'd be practical for me. Most of my knitting is done on the TTC or in bed during my evenings in while I watch TV (I watch TV as an excuse to knit), and in either of those scenarios there's no available surface on which I could safely place a yarn bowl. Yes, my yarn balls do tend to roll onto the floor, but I'd rather pick up a ball of yarn and dust it off than weep bitter tears at the sight of a shattered handmade stoneware bowl... and then pick up the ball of yarn and dust it off. Then there's the fact that those round bowls will only hold a ball of yarn, not an elongated skein, and I don't bother winding new skeins of yarn into balls unless there's some reason it's absolutely necessary.
Ultimately, they're just too frivolous for me, the kind of thing my grandmother, who kept a house and a farm, raised her five children (and a lot of poultry), and knitted many an item during the Depression, all with the aid of a wood-burning stove, oil lamps, an outdoor water pump, and an outhouse, would have called "a pack of silliness". But then let it be said that Grandma Swan never thought it mattered how things looked as long as one was clean, neat, and mended, and was always one to patch the seat of her decades-old housedresses until the end of her days in 1993, so I try not to let her rock-bottom brand of practicality influence me too much. Need is too nebulous a construct to base one's purchasing decision on; I decide whether to buy things based on how much I'll use and enjoy them. So I would buy a yarn bowl if I really thought it would enhance the way I knit, but since it probably won't, I'll have to subvert my handmade stoneware lust into buying some tableware or something.
If you think you're the type of knitter a yarn bowl will work for, let me indulge in a little vicarious stoneware fun by showing you some pretty ones. The whimsical birdie stoneware bowl pictured above is from Uncommon Goods.
It may just be my love of turquoise talking, but this yarn bowl from Etsy vendor OCPottery is a feast for the eyes.
The Mud Place offers yarn bowls with pertinent text incorporated into the design — they also have "Purl" and "Knit" bowls.
If the words in the yarn bowls above are too generic for you, you can have a yarn bowl custom made and ask to have your name incorporated into the design, as Little Wren Pottery does for its customers.
As the owner of a white cat with a yarn fetish, I find this cat yarn bowl from Etsy vendor Heidi very funny if slightly disturbing.