What Is A Yarn Winder? My Ultimate Guide To This Tool Unraveled

By Jodie Morgan

| Updated:

A yarn winder transforms frustrating skeins into perfect center-pull balls. This handy tool saves time and keeps your yarn tangle-free so you can enjoy knitting. Let me explain the main types and why you’d use one.

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Table Of Contents

What Is A Yarn Winder?

A yarn winder is a tool that helps you create neat, organized cakes or balls of yarn that can be easily used for various knitting projects. With a yarn winder, you can transform a hank into a clean, compact ball that’s easy to work with and less likely to get tangled up.

In my experience, using a yarn winder comes with several benefits.

  • It prevents yarn from getting knotted and tangled as you knit.
  • Secondly, winding your yarn can help maintain even tension throughout your project.

There are different types of yarn winders for knitters. Some are manual, requiring you to turn a crank by hand, while others are electric and do the work for you.

Key Features

  • Clamp System: A well-designed yarn winder has adjustable clamps to fit a variety of table thicknesses and provide a strong grip for stability during use.
  • Size: Smaller, lightweight models are easier to pack away and transport, while jumbo yarn winders wind more yarn at once but are less portable.

Types Of Yarn Winders

Manual Yarn Winders

Manual yarn winders are a popular choice due to their practicality and affordability. They have a hand crank you turn to transform your skeins of yarn into neat, well-organized balls. One of my favorite things about manual winders is their reliability and portability: they don’t require electricity, so I can use them anywhere.

Here are the main types of manual winders:

  • Nostepinne: This is a traditional hand-held yarn winder made of wood. It doesn’t have moving parts, and you wind yarn around it by hand. Nostepinnes are more time-consuming, but they’re portable.
  • Plastic Yarn Winders: These are lightweight and affordable, making them excellent if you’re on a budget. The downside is they’re not as durable as wooden options.
  • Wooden Yarn Winders: Eco-friendly and visually appealing, they often look like a work of art themselves. Wooden winders add a touch of charm to your knitting workspace, but they’re pricier.

Electric Yarn Winders

These winders are a more modern option, and they make winding yarn a breeze! Electric winders automatically turn the spindle, eliminating the need for manual labor. However, they require a power source, and are also more expensive.

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FAQs About What Yarn Winders Are

What’s The Difference Between A Yarn Winder And Swift?

A yarn winder converts hanks of yarn into neat, organized cakes or balls. It makes knitting much more delightful, as there’s no need to worry about tangled messes!
A yarn swift holds the yarn in place while we wind it. You place the hank or skein around the swift, and it smoothly spins as you pull the yarn out.

They’re like a dynamic duo that helps me transform skeins into ready-to-use cakes.


I’ve found a yarn winder makes the hobby more pleasurable and efficient. This handy tool creates neatly wound yarn balls, saving time and preventing frustration. Want to see which one you should get? Visit my post.

About The Author

Jodie Morgan From Knit Like Granny

Jodie Morgan (Author & Founder)

jodie@knitlikegranny.com | Lives In: Regional Australia

Author: Jodie Morgan is a passionate knitter and blogger with 40+ years of experience currently living in regional Australia. Taught by her mother and wonderful grandmother “Mama”, she fell in love with crafting from a young age. When she’s not knitting, you’ll find her enjoying a cup of coffee with cream, or sharing helpful resources and tips with the online knitting community. Get to know Jodie and the team on our meet the team page.

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