What Is A Yarn Swift? 2019 Review Guide To All The Best Options

Our Recommendations For Those In A Hurry

The Best For Most People – This Stanwood Needlecraft Wooden Umbrella Yarn Swift Medium is a solid choice, great value, reliable and suitable for most projects.

What The Experts Use – The Stanwood Needlecraft Wooden Umbrella Yarn Swift Large is a sheer joy to wind, super sturdy, fast, durable, tough and long lasting enough to pass onto the next generation, the only yarn swift you will ever buy.

Note: Clicking the above links will take you to further information, current prices and customer reviews on Amazon.

For those who want more, keep reading our full reviews of all of the best yarn ball winders currently available.

A Yarn Swift is a tool for taming yarn. One of the more popular varieties is the umbrella swift, a clever device for holding skeins under tension so you can unravel them and easily wrap your yarn into balls or cakes if using a yarn winder.


Note: Clicking the above links will take you to further information, current prices and customer reviews on Amazon.

Having a Yarn Swift Makes Life Easier

When you have a Yarn Swift, winding yarn from a hank or skein is so much easier.

There are many types of yarn swifts on the market – straightforward metal and plastic ones and beautiful wooden yarn swifts.

There are many to choose from, we’ve researched what’s out there and made some recommendations.

We’ve read suggestions from top bloggers and sifted through 5-star reviews.

Here is a list of the Best 12 Yarn Swifts we’ve found based on many hours of research.

Table of Contents

What Is A Yarn Swift?

A Yarn Swift is made of either wood or metal and plastic. It’s considered an essential tool for any knitter or crocheter.

Many yarns are sold as “non-balls” of yarn, in hanks or skeins.

A Yarn Swift enables hanks or skeins of yarn to be held in place so that you can wind the yarn into balls.

They allow for easy balling, without the yarn getting tangled and knotted.
If you are using a Yarn Ball Winder with your yarn swift, your yarn will become yarn cakes, rather than balls. (We highly recommend using a Yarn Winder.)

There are many types, and they can be handheld, tabletop, umbrella-style or vertical. More on all those styles below.

I am a true believer in saving time, and yarn swifts are a great tool to have in your possession. I mean, we’re all wanting to get to the good stuff which is the knitting! Am I right?

On the other hand, winding yarn with a combination of a yarn winder and swift is fun. Seeing your stash of hanks and skeins becoming neat little cakes can be addictive

Just don’t let it take you away from the pure joy of knitting. (You’ve been warned.) 🙂

I hope that these reviews help you make a choice which one is right for you.

By The Bay Yarn Co Follow Wende on Instagram for more knitting inspiration @bythebayyarnco

How To Use A Yarn Swift

Winding Yarn with a swift starts by clamping the swift onto a table or countertop. To protect your table surfaces, expert knitters recommend using a tablecloth or some padding.

To make the whole process of winding a ball of yarn with a yarn swift, follow these simple instructions:

  • To begin, slide the clamp at the base of the swift onto your table and tighten the bolt.
  • Remove the label from your yarn and untwist the skein or hank of yarn. You will be left with a big ring of thread.
  • Pop the ring of yarn over the top of the yarn swift which will be in the down position.
  • Pull the ring of yarn lightly, so the far side of the hank is against the center. Open up the Yarn Swift like an umbrella (umbrella swift is a common name for this tool) until the yarn is taut on the swift.
  • Then secure the umbrella clamp in place.
  • Spin the yarn and find all the sections of the skein that’s been tied.
  • Remove these ties.
  • You will find that there will be one end that seems to be on the outside of the skein and the other on the inside.
  • Use the end that is on the outside to start winding your ball. This will make things easier.
  • Then you are ready to start winding your ball of yarn.
  • And a smile will instantly appear on your face as you see the neat yarn cakes begin to form 🙂

How to Use A Yarn Swift and Ball Winder

Using an Umbrella Swift and a Ball Winder Combo will save you an enormous amount of time.

For our recommendations on yarn ball winders visit our post. https://knitlikegranny.com/yarn-winder/.

The beauty of using a yarn ball winder and swift will mean you have center pull yarn cakes. (Having the end in the center is much more convenient when it’s time to knit.)

With a yarn winder and swift, can you imagine how much neater your yarn stash will look?

Here is a fabulous video tutorial by Stacey at Very Pink Knits.

Using a Yarn Winder and Swift

What Is An Amish Yarn Swift?

An Amish Yarn Swift, (otherwise known as a tabletop yarn swift), is a swift of simple wooden design.

An Amish style swift comprises of a swivel base, with 4 arms, made of 2 pieces of wood that crisscross.

Each of the 4 arms has holes in them, so with 4 removable pegs. The pegs move position depending on how big the loop of yarn is.

Amish Yarn Swift with pink yarn used by Woolen Whimsey
Follow Mandy Monique on Instagram for more knitting inspiration @woolenwhimsy

Ewe University Yarn Swift Video

Kristine Kelly of Ewe University has a fabulous video on the different kinds of yarn swifts. I enjoyed watching it and found it very informative and helpful. You can view the entire video in the link below.

If you don’t have time to watch the video, I’ve summarized it by giving the most essential points.

Unless you are interested in card making, yarn yardage counter gadget, and a review of a book, Oil and Marble, skip to 19.59 on the video to get the great information on Yarn Swifts.

Getting To Know Your Yarn Swift

Yarn Swifts are adjustable devices in which a hank of yarn is placed to wind it into balls.

Often used in conjunction with yarn ball winders that create center pull balls, or yarn cakes or yarn muffins as Kristine likes to call them.

They can be used to hold the yarn while you wind the yarn by hand.

The swift is only needed when the yarn comes in a skein or hank because it comes in a big loop.

As knitters know, winding a hank of yarn without a swift is a challenge. The other methods are using the backs of 2 dining room chairs or have someone hold the hank for you.

The latter would be most annoying for both of you. After all, you should be knitting, not laboriously winding wool.

Loops of yarn range in size, some are smaller circles, and some are larger. It is imperative the yarn swift adjusts to different hank circumferences.

Umbrella Yarn Swift

The most common swifts are umbrella swifts made of wood or metal and will collapse relatively flat for storage.

Kristine demonstrates the use of an umbrella swift – see our written instructions in the section How To Use A Yarn Swift or jump to 22.22 in the video to watch.

Umbrella style swifts have either a flat base for a tabletop or a clamp to attach to a side of a table. Some are tall and stand on the floor.

Ewe University Stanwood Umbrella Yarn Swift with teal green wool placed on it

Stanwood Needlecraft Umbrella Yarn Swift

Kristine owns a Stanwood Needlecraft Umbrella Yarn Swift in the large size. Made from finely sanded Birchwood. It can handle up to 8ft of yarn in circumference. The ribs of the swift are tied with hemp cord, similar to many other umbrella swifts. It clamps firmly to the side of a table, chair, bench or any surface up to 1 ¾ inch thick. It needs a lot of space.

Stanwood Needlecraft also makes an umbrella Swift in a medium size and can handle up to 6ft of yarn in circumference. You need to assess what room you have to set up a Swift.

Another idea is to clamp the swift on the back of a chair, so it turns vertically.

Umbrella Yarn Swifts vary in price from inexpensive metal/plastic ones to more exotic wooden ones. The cheaper versions only suit lighter weight yarn with smaller circumferences. They’re not as sturdy as the wooden ones; people have problems with them breaking.

Kristine bought her Stanwood Umbrella Yarn Swift for around $50 and is happy with it for home use. If she had a yarn shop, she would need to upgrade.

Amish Wooden Yarn Swift from Ewe University

Tabletop Yarn Swift or Amish Style Yarn Swift

The tabletop Yarn Swift or Amish style swift seems to be gaining in popularity. Jump to 25.36 in the video to see the Amish style Swift.

Made of wood with two pieces of wood that crisscross in the middle to create 4 arms. On each of the arms, there are a series of holes where pegs can be inserted. Pegs can be moved to accommodate difference circumferences of yarn.

One good thing about the Amish Swift is that if you or someone you know are handy with woodworking, these swifts are easy to make.

Consider a DIY Yarn swift if you have the skills. Kristine’s husband made one for her. He found Amish yarn swift plans and homemade yarn swift instructions online. How to make a swift is outlined on many sites.

Amish Swifts vary in price but are cheaper than Umbrella-Style Swifts.

The Amish Swift is placed on top of a table and spins around. Jump to 27:25 to see an Amish Swift in action.

Be aware that these swifts take up a lot of space and storing one away are an issue. Some come apart back some do not.

Goko Schact Yarn Swift loaded with teal green yarn

Vertical Yarn Swift

The last style of Swift Kristine mentions is a vertical swift.

Umbrella swifts can vertically spin. But Kristine researched on Google what vertical swifts are available.

These swifts for sale range in price depending on the features included. People are making these styles of swifts and then selling them online. Most users seem to be yarn dyers.

The vertical swift that Kristine owns is a Schacht Goko Yarn Swift

Kristine demonstrates the vertical yarn winder at point 29:25 if you’d like to jump to there.

The Goko Yarn Swift is a Japanese design based on industrial swifts. Kristine finds it excellent for fine, delight fibers like lace weight yarn.

She also uses it for other weights of yarn. Kristine finds it very helpful to re-skein yarn (back into hanks) that she has in balls. (That she’s not going to use because the project didn’t go ahead.)

This type of swift isn’t as popular in the knitting world as the umbrella yarn swift or Amish yarn swift.

How to Use a Vertical Yarn Swift

This vertical yarn swift sits on a table or placed on the floor. It has a wood base with 2 arms extending upwards and an aluminum wheel where the yarn loop is set. She notes that the wheel is a bit fragile and could be bent out of shape if dropped. However, the lightness and flexibility of the thin metal are what makes it work so well.

The Goko Yarn Swift can only handle yarn loop circumferences of 57” to 64”. It is not as adjustable as other types. Storage can be an issue as it does not break down in any way. However, some people like to leave it out. It’s an item of interest and adds character to their craft room.

Here is the video. Well worth watching 🙂 (Make sure to check out her channel, there’s a wealth of information.)

Which Yarn Swift should I buy?

There are many yarn swifts on the market. We’ve listed some of the most popular with the pros and cons for each.

KnitPicks Onyx Wooden Yarn Swift

Image from Manufacturer’s Website www.KnitPicks.com

Sturdy construction made of wood, laminated birch in black. Easy to operate and very compact when it is packed away.


  • The KnitPicks Yarn Swift is made of laminated birch wood.
  • The table clamp has a range of about 1 1/2 inches to 1 5/8 inches, so it means you can clamp it to a variety of tables, shelves or even a chair.
  • Made of strong materials.
  • Golden Brass hardware.
  • Very easy to set up and packs down for easy storage.


  • You may need to use wood wax or polish to ensure the center sliding mechanism to go up and down easily.

Click To Learn More / Buy From KnitPicks

KnitPicks Birch Yarn Swift

Image from Manufacturer’s Website

Sturdy construction made of wood, easy to operate and very compact when it is closed.

One of our lovely readers, Sonia S, took the time to email in her experience of using the Knit Picks Yarn Swift.

Here’s what she said. “I have the KnitPicks model, and my only complaint is that the holding pegs are too small to get a good grip on to turn.”


  • The KnitPicks Yarn Swift is made of wood.
  • The table clamp has a range of about 1 1/2 inches to 1 5/8 inches.
  • So it means you can clamp it to a variety of tables, shelves or even a chair.
  • Made of strong materials.
  • Very easy to set up and packs down for easy storage.


  • May need to use wood wax or polish to ensure the center sliding mechanism to go up and down easily.

Click To Learn More / Buy From KnitPicks

Stanwood Needlecraft Wooden Umbrella Yarn Swift Medium

Stanwood Needlecraft Wooden Umbrella Swift Yarn Winder, Medium

A medium-sized solid wooden Umbrella Yarn Swift, made of birch wood with a finely sanded finish. Able to handle skeins of 6ft in circumference. When working it is fairly quiet and the spin is smooth.


  • The Stanwood Needlecraft Medium size can hold up to 6ft of yarn skein in circumference.
  • Can clamp onto surfaces of 1 3/4 inch thick such as tables, benches or chairs.
  • Very sturdy construction made of quality wood.
  • Packs down for easy storage.


  • On rare occasions, the clamp screw can sometimes crack but screw replacements can be purchased.
Click to Learn More / Buy from Amazon

Stanwood Needlecraft Wooden Umbrella Yarn Swift Large

Stanwood Needlecraft Wooden Umbrella Swift Yarn Winder, Large

Made of solid wood and easy to fold away. This swift can handle larger skeins with bigger yarn circumferences. When folded out it will take up quite a bit of space in the room. Be sure to think about where you will have yours when in use.


  • Made of solid quality wood.
  • Can handle yarn skeins with a circumference of 8.5ft.
  • Clamps easily to the edge of a table, bench or chairs without scratching the surface.
  • Will clamp on to edge up to 1 3/4 thick.
  • Compact when not in use.


  • Some customers may not like the ties made of hemp, that hold the umbrella section together.
Click to Learn More / Buy from Amazon

Stanwood Needlecraft Tabletop Amish Style Wooden Yarn Swift

Stanwood Needlecraft Tabletop Amish Style Wooden Yarn Swift, 2.5-6-Feet (YW-3)

Built of solid wood, this tabletop Amish Style yarn swift has pegs to make it easily adjustable. As the name suggests it is used on top of a table. When not in use it is easy to disassemble and store.


  • Easy to assemble.
  • Fine sanded finish so no heavy wood varnish fumes.
  • Sturdy when on tables as it has 4 non-slip pads on the bottom surface. Can be easily adjusted by moving pegs to hold various sizes of skeins between 2 1/2 – 6 ft in circumference.
  • Smooth spinning.
  • Parts can easily come apart for easy storage.


  • You will need to consider the amount of space required.
Click to Learn More / Buy from Amazon

Glimakra Wooden Swift Large

Swedish Glimakra Large Wood Umbrella Swift 12' - 100'

Swedish yarn swift umbrella style which spins freely and can handle up to 3 yards in circumference skein of yarn.


  • Swedish made Solid wood with a smooth finish
  • Fully collapsible
  • Spins freely and can handle up to 2 yards yarn skein circumference
  • Easy to assemble


  • Can be a little squeaky at first but with the addition of a little wood wax, customers have found this fixes it.
Click to Learn More / Buy from Amazon

Nirvana Needle Arts Twister Tabletop Yarn Swift - Limited Edition Rosewood

Nirvana Needle Arts Tabletop Yarn Swift

Beautiful Rosewood finish on this antique looking yarn swift. Smooth turning and can handle up to 2.5 lbs of yarn.


  • Excellent stabilizing base
  • Able to be placed on a table without any clamps
  • Rosewood finish gives it an heirloom look
  • Can handle up to 76″circumference of yarn
  • Easy to assemble and dismantle for easy storage


  • Instructions could be made to be easier to understand.
Click to Learn More / Buy from Amazon

If the product is currently unavailable, take a look at this alternative on Etsy.

“Properly practiced, knitting soothes the troubled spirit, and it doesn’t hurt the untroubled spirit either.” ― Elizabeth Zimmermann

Beka Yarn Swift used by @ oakandashe with cream coloured yarn loaded on it
Beka Yarn Swift @ oakandashe

Beka Yarn Swift Seiner

Beka Yarn Swift

The Beka Yarn Swift is a tabletop swift with a heavy base. Made of hard maple wood, with metal bearings that make it spin smoothly.


  • Easy to assemble with clear instructions
  • Rotates smoothly
  • Simple to drape the yarn loop over the top


  • Does not fold down for easy storage
Click to Learn More / Buy from Amazon

ChiaoGoo Amish Design Wooden Yarn Swift

ChiaoGoo Amish Design

The Chiaogoo Amish Design Wooden Yarn Swift has a smooth finish. It can handle up to 62” circumference skein of yarn. It has 4 moveable pegs make it adjustable to fit different circumferences of yarn loops.


  • Simple to use
  • Easy to assemble
  • Can handle varying circumferences of yarn loops
  • No clamps – placed flat on table or floor
  • Smooth finish so no snagging of yarn


  • Doesn’t fold down and pack away, but customers have found it easy enough to disassemble.
Click to Learn More / Buy from Amazon

Lacis Swift Yarn Winder Small

Lacis Swift Yarn Winder

The Lacis Swift Yarn Winder is an umbrella style swift. It’s versatile when it comes to positioning it. It can clamp on the edge of a table, bench or chair.


  • Easy to assemble
  • Simple to use
  • Can fold down for storage


  • Not as smooth a finish as other wooden yarn swifts.

Click to Learn More / Buy from Amazon

Cutehill Umbrella Swift

Cutehill Umbrella Swift

The Cutehill Umbrella Swift Yarn Winder is an umbrella style swift. I have just updated this post and didn’t originally include it.

The fact that it is made of plastic and metal meant it is not as sturdy as the other wooden options available.

Readers have got in touch and said that they’ve found it great as a budget option and for knitters who won’t be winding lots of yarn.

It’s lightweight and can pack down for easy storage. Be aware that it is fragile so treat it carefully.


  • Easy to assemble Simple to use
  • Can fold down for storage


  • Not as sturdy as wooden yarn swifts.
  • Must have padding between it and the table you are clamping it to.
Click to Learn More / Buy from Amazon

Handzcraft Wooden Umbrella Swift Yarn Winder 24 Inch

Wooden Umbrella Swift Yarn Winder 24 Inch- Handcrafted with Materials and Super Smooth Finish - Elegant Design - Perfect Gift for Knitters!

And lastly here is a brand new addition. The Handzcraft Wooden Umbrella Swift Yarn Winder.

It is too early to tell if it is actually better than the rest but it does come with a one year unconditional warranty. Which is why we have included it here.

Similar dimensions to the popular Stanwood Needlecraft Wooden Umbrella Swift Yarn Winder, means it can hold roughly the same skein circumference of 6ft. And the table clamp fits on widths of 1.8 inches. The width when the swift is opened out is 24 inches.


  • It gets delivered totally assembled, in one piece.
  • So less hassle.
  • Full one year warranty, no questions asked, money back guarantee.
  • Handzcrafts state their products are made from fairly traded woods.
  • Clamps on edges up to 1.8 inches thick.


  • Totally new product.
  • So no track record of happy customers as yet.
  • It is an unknown quantity.
Click to Learn More / Buy from Amazon
Sarah at Map and Loom Umbrella Wooden Yarn Swift with natural yarn
Follow Sarah on Instagram @Mapandloom for more great pics and visit her shop https://www.etsy.com/shop/mapandloom for beautiful hand woven scarves.

Best Yarn Swift

The best yarn swift is one where the swift is made of sturdy, solid materials, like wood and does not easily break.

Many knitters swear by the wooden yarn swift; Stanwood Needlecraft Wooden Umbrella Swift Yarn Winder.

It is a type of umbrella swift yarn winder that is visually appealing. With its excellent sanded finish and made of solid wood, it is built to last.

It is available in a medium size and large size. Winding yarn with a swift makes life so much easier. No need for the ‘knee method’ or using your dining room chair.

Best of all, no disgruntled partners/friends!

You’re sure to feel relieved when you both know they’ve been relieved of their duties. 🙂

Yarn Swift and Hand dyed yarn skeins

Checklist for Buying a Yarn Swift

So there you go. Are you ready to make things easier for yourself with a yarn swift?

Here is a quick checklist to consider when buying a Yarn Swift:

  • Sturdy Construction YES/NO
  • Smooth Finish YES/NO
  • Ease of Set Up YES/NO
  • Adjustable for different circumferences of yarn YES/NO
  • Does it pack down for storage YES/NO
  • Do I have enough space to store it YES/NO
  • Do you have a favorite yarn swift we haven’t mentioned? Let us know

Key Takeaways and Top Recommendations

So there you go, plenty of great yarn winders to help make your life easier.

We know you will find something to add to your collection of super helpful knitting tools.

Something we forgot? Leave a question or comment at the end.

Now It’s Your Turn…

I’d like to hear what you have to say. What did you think about today’s guide?

Or maybe you have a question. Either way, let me know by leaving a comment below right now or send me a message on Twitter.

You can also contact me here.

Related Posts: Here Are Some Other Posts That May Interest You

Why Would You Want to get a Yarn Winder?
The Best Knitting Machines in Review

Image credits: © Amazon.com

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About Jodie - Editor Knit Like Granny

Hi. I’m Jodie Morgan, owner and creator of Knit Like Granny. (Yes, I’m a real person :) ) Thanks for being here. I am an Australian, currently living in Romania with my family. I love knitting and have met so many other fabulous knitters through this site. I love learning and helping others discover the joys of working with yarn. Please say hello!

9 thoughts on “What Is A Yarn Swift? 2019 Review Guide To All The Best Options”

  1. What are the two umbrella swifts used in the “handwashdryflat” picture and Sara@hobbybirdknits picture? Very much appreciated your review – Thank you!

    • Hi Michelle. Thanks so much for your kind comment, so glad we could help. Stanwood Needlecraft Wooden Umbrella Swift Medium. We’d love hear back from you, about the swift you chose and how you find it. We always update our posts with comments from our lovely readers. Happy Knitting 🙂

  2. A couple of other swifts I’ve seen are the Paradise Fibers Super Swift (a variant Amish-style, where the adjustments are made by sliding the arms in & out, instead of moving pegs to different holes) and the one that Darn Good Yarn used to sell (which looked like the heirloom-style swift you covered; the one they currently have is an umbrella-style).

  3. Great list Jodie. Writing the pros and cons in addition to reviews is something very thoughtful. Would you mind reviewing Handzcraft Yarn swift as well? I’ve heard from one of my friends that she bought handzcraft yarn swift after much research and found to be very useful. I will make my decision based on your review. Thank you so much 🙂

    • Hi Sarah
      So glad you’ve found our reviews for Yarn Swifts helpful.
      That’s great that your friend has found one to suit her. Sounds like it would be a great addition to our review.
      I have been searching and I can’t find any info or any mention of a yarn swift with that name.
      Can you ask your friend where she got it, as I am sure many of our other readers would also be interested.
      Would love to know more please 🙂
      Cheers Jodie 🙂

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