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In this post we share the results of our best Yarn Swift research for 2018.
Looking for something specific? See our table of contents below.
In a hurry? Check out our Key Takeaways and top recommendations at the bottom of this post.
Something we forgot? Leave a question or comment at the end.
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 – simple 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 10 Yarn Swifts we’ve found based on hours of researching online.
Updates - This post was last updated on the 13 December 2017.
Table of Contents
What Is A Yarn Swift?
A Yarn Swift made of either wood or metal and plastic, is considered an essential tool for any knitter or crocheter. Many yarns are sold as "non-balls" of yarn, in hanks or skeins.
It enables hanks or skeins of yarn to be held in place, so 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 (which we highly recommend), with your yarn swift, your yarn will become yarn cakes, rather than balls.
How To Use A Yarn Swift
Winding Yarn with a swift starts by clamping the swift onto a table or counter top. To protect your table surfaces, expert knitters recommend using a tablecloth.
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 yarn.
- 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 the skein of yarn has 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.
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. 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 on
Using a Yarn Winder and Swift
What Is An Amish Yarn Swift?
An Amish Yarn Swift or 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.
Ewe University Yarn Swift Video
Kristine Kelly of Ewe University has a fabulous video on the different kinds of yarn swifts. I really enjoyed watching it and found it very informative and helpful. You can watch the entire video in the link below.
If you don’t have time to watch the video, I’ve summarised it by giving the most important 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.
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 whilst you wind the yarn by hand.
The swift is only needed when 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. People often use the backs of 2 dining room chairs or have someone hold the hank for you.
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.
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 and are 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.
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 2 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 nice 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.
Vertical Yarn Swift
The last style of Swift Kristine mentions is a vertical swift.
Umbrella swifts can be used vertically 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 a Schacht Goko Yarn Swift
Kristine demonstrates the vertical yarn at point 29:25 if you’d like to jump to there.
The Goko Yarn Swift is Japanese design based on industrial swifts. Kristine finds it really good for fine, delight fibers like lace weight yarn.
She also uses it for other weights of yarn. Kristine finds it very helpful to reskein 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 is not as commonly used in the knitting world as either the umbrella yarn swift or amish yarn swift.
How to Use a Vertical Yarn Swift
This vertical yarn swift sits on a table or can be placed on the floor. It has wood base with 2 arms extending upwards and an aluminum wheel where the yarn loop is placed. 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 anyway. However some people like to leave it out because it looks interesting and adds character to their craft room.
Kristine has seen similar designs of the Goko in tinkertoy yarn swifts, made from tinkertoys!
Here is the link to the video. Well worth watching 🙂
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.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 knit picks 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 centre sliding mechanism to go up and down easily.
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- 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.
- Made of solid quality wood
- Can handle yarn skeins with 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 hemp ties, holding the umbrella section together.
Looking to Add to Your Yarn Stash?
No knitter can ever have enough Yarn! Those balls and skeins of colourful yarn are a pleasure to have in your home 🙂 Just waiting for a fabulous knitted project!
- 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
- 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.
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- Made in Sweden
- Smooth finish
- Holds up to 100-inch circumference skein of yarn
- Clamp easily onto table tops, benches
- Easy to assemble
- Folds up for easy storage
- On very rare occasions the screw that tightens the arms in place can break.
Looking to Get Your Yarn Stash Organized?
Yarn stashes, much as all knitters love them can sometimes get a little disorganized 🙂 Do you dream of getting your Yarn stash sorted? These ideas will help.
- 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 better.
“Properly practiced, knitting soothes the troubled spirit, and it doesn't hurt the untroubled spirit either.”
― Elizabeth Zimmermann
Looking to Knit Something New?
Knitting projects kits are a great way to take the stress out of knitting. Everything you need comes in a kit 🙂
- 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 but customers have found it easy enough to disassemble
Essential Knitting Supplies
Looking for some great knitting supplies? The right Knitting needles, Beautiful Yarn, Yarn Swifts and Yarn Winders can make your knitting experience so much easier.
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 fine 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 just makes life so much easier. No need for the ‘knee method’ or using your dining room chair.
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 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.