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My Yarn Swift Guide for 2020. What to Choose and How to Use. 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.

Best For Serious Use – The Stanwood Needlecraft Wooden Umbrella Yarn Swift Large is a sheer joy to wind, super sturdy, fast, and durable.

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.

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


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

CotLin Monthly Yarn Sale at Knit Picks
Shop the lovely colors at Knit Picks >>

Having a Yarn Swift Makes Life Easier

A Yarn Swift is a tool for taming skeins or hanks of fiber. 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.

When you have this nifty tool, winding wool or other fibers 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.

Table of Contents

What Is A Yarn Swift?

A 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”, in hanks or skeins. What is a hank of yarn? A hank is when yarn is loosely wound into a large ring shape and then twisted on itself.

This tool enables yarn hanks or skeins of wool to be held in place when winding yarn into balls.

They allow for easy balling, free from tangles and knots.
If you are using a Yarn Ball Winder with your swift, you can create cakes, rather than balls. (We highly recommend using a Ball Winder.)

There are many types, and they can be handheld, tabletop, umbrella-style or vertical. A Squirrel Cage Yarn Swift is vertical version. More on all those styles below.

You may be asking yourself, do I need a yarn swift? 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 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 yarn swift 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 wool 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 from a skein, 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 and untwist the skein or hank. You will be left with a big ring of thread.
  • Pop the ring of fiber goodness over the top of the yarn swift which will be in the down position.
  • Pull the ring of wool lightly, so the far side of the hank is against the center. Open up the arms like an umbrella (umbrella swift is a common name for this tool) until the wool is taut on the swift.
  • Then secure the umbrella clamp in place.
  • Spin around 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.
  • 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 my post.

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

Using this combination, can you imagine how much neater your fiber stash will look?

Here is a fabulous video tutorial by Stacey at Very Pink Knits demonstrating this combination and how to ball yarn.

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 an unwound skein 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 The Different Types

Yarn Swifts are adjustable devices in which a hank 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 wool while you wind balls by hand.

The swift is only needed when your chosen fiber comes in a skein or hank because it comes in a big loop.

As knitters know, winding a hank 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 range in size, some are smaller circles, and some are larger. It is imperative the 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 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 fibers with smaller circumferences. They’re not as sturdy as the wooden ones; people have problems with them breaking.

Kristine 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 wool.

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 but 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 dyers.

The vertical swift that Kristine owns is one from Schacht Goko.

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 fibers. Kristine finds it very helpful to re-skein wool (back into hanks) that she has in balls. (Wool 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 or Amish version.

How to Use a Vertical Yarn Swift

Place on a table or 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 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.)

Amish Yarn Swift vs Umbrella Swift

If you have space in your home for placing your swift on the table, then the Amish Yarn Swift would be an option. The downside of these kinds of swifts is they often don’t pack away easily.
The Umbrella Swift does fold down and can be easily stored away.

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

Knit Picks Onyx Wooden Swift
Image from Manufacturer’s Website

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

Knit Picks Birch 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 one.

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.”


  • 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 (Medium)

A medium-sized solid wooden Umbrella 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 wool 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 Large

Made of solid wood and easy to fold away. This swift can handle larger skeins with bigger 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 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 Swift

Stanwood Needlecraft Tabletop Amish Style Wooden Swift

Built of solid wood, this tabletop Amish Style 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

Schacht Ultra Umbrella Swift

Schacht Ultra Umbrella Swift

What the experts use – if you are planning to use your swift very often this swift is a work horse. Tough, sturdy and reliable, enough to pass onto the next generation, the only one you will ever buy.


  • The arms open from the top down
  • It switches from a horizontal to vertical rotation with a simple pull of a locking pin.
  • Clamps on most tables, even those with thick edges
  • Steel pins and plastic buttons hold the ribs in place
  • The metal rod in the center helps with stability and noise reduction when spinning
  • This swift accommodates hanks up to 93 inches in diameter.
  • Easy to collapse for storage


  • Not lightweight
Click to Learn More / Buy from Amazon

Glimakra Wooden Swift (Large)

Glimakra Wooden Swift

Swedish umbrella style which spins freely and can handle up to 100 inches in circumference.


  • Swedish made Solid wood with a smooth finish
  • Fully collapsible
  • Spins freely and can handle up to 100 inches 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 Swift – Limited Edition Rosewood

Nirvana Needle Arts Tabletop Swift

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


  • 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 wool
  • 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 best heirloom yarn swift 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

Beka Yarn Swift

The Beka brand 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 wool 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 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 skein loops.


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


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

Lacis Small Swift Yarn Winder

Lacis Swift Yarn Winder

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 swifts.

Click to Learn More / Buy from Amazon

Cutehill Umbrella Swift

Cutehill Umbrella 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 works great as a basic, budget option and for knitters who won’t be winding lots of wool or other fibers.

It’s lightweight and can pack down for easy storage. Account for the fact that it is fragile so treat it carefully.


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


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

Boye Yarn Swift

Boye Yarn Swift

Lightweight and portable (does not attach to the table). Simple and easy to use, made of aluminium with high quality plastic fittings.


  • When folded up, the swift only measures 12″ long x 2″ wide.
  • Lightweight and portable


  • There is no option to clamp onto a table so it can move.
Click to Learn More / Buy from Amazon

Handzcraft Wooden Umbrella Swift

Handzcraft Wooden Umbrella Swift

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

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, 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 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 Stanwood Needlecraft Wooden Umbrella Swift Yarn Winder.

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!

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:

  • 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 swift we haven’t mentioned? Let me know.

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

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: ©

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 traveling in Europe 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 “My Yarn Swift Guide for 2020. What to Choose and How to Use. 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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