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My Yarn Swift Guide. What to Choose & How to Use. Best Options

A Yarn Swift tames skeins or hanks of fiber. When you have this handy, nifty tool, winding fibers is much easier!

Best Yarn Swift Buyer's Guide

My Quick Recommendations

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

They’re specifically designed to make a difficult task a breeze! Pair a durable yarn swift with the best yarn winder, and you’re set.

There are many yarn swifts – metal and plastic ones and beautiful wooden yarn swifts. (All hand operated.) A popular variety is the umbrella swift.

You could even make a DIY yarn swift project!

Read my reviews of the best yarn ball winders.

Table of Contents

Stylish Storage Solutions by Knit Picks

Best Yarn Swift

There are many yarn swifts on the market with different features. I’ve listed some of the best yarn swifts in my reviews.

The best yarn swift is one made of sturdy, solid materials, like strong wood, and doesn’t easily break. It works beautifully with any hank of yarn and has a smooth spin.

No need to fear buying yarn in hanks!

Winding yarn with a swift makes life much easier. No need for the ‘knee method’ or chair. Best of all, no disgruntled partners/friends! Makes a huge difference to your life. Say goodbye to a tangled mess of yarn problem.

When choosing the one right for you, think of how much space you have, your budget, and the size of hanks you have in your stash.

Here is my yarn swift reviews.

Onyx Wooden Yarn Swift

Knit Picks Onyx Wooden Swift

Sturdy construction of laminated birch wood in black. The wood umbrella swift is uncomplicated to operate and compact when packed away.

The black finish on these umbrella yarn swifts looks stylish in any room.

Pros

  • The Knit Picks Yarn Swift is made of laminated birch wood.
  • The table clamp has a range of about 1 1/2 to 1 5/8″
  • Suitable for different yarn weights and yarn loops
  • This umbrella swift yarn winder is made of strong materials
  • Spins smoothly and efficiently
  • Golden brass hardware.
  • Hard-wearing metal screws
  • Quick to set up
  • This wooden umbrella swift yarn packs down for storage
  • Simple to order online
  • Creates lovely center pull balls
  • Great for a spinner and dyer
  • Folds down for portability
  • Keeps yarn in place without tangling

Cons

  • You may need to use wood wax or polish to ensure the center sliding mechanism to go up and down easily. Not a big issue.

You can also purchase a handy silver carry case

Birch Yarn Swift

Knit Picks Birch Swift

This KnitPicks yarn swift has sturdy birchwood construction and is compact when closed. (It’s made of the same materials as the previous swift.)

One of my lovely readers, Sonia S, emailed with her experience of using one.

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

YouTube video

Pros

  • Sturdy birchwood
  • The table clamp has a range of 1 1/2 inch thick to 1 5/8″
  • These yarn swifts are made of strong materials.
  • Quick to set up and packs down for storage.
  • These wooden yarns swifts feature non-slip pads
  • Wind yarn with ease
  • Excellent durability

Cons

  • This model may need to use wood wax or polish to ensure the middle shaft sliding mechanism to go up and down easily.

Stanwood Needlecraft Wooden Umbrella Style (Medium)

Stanwood Needlecraft Wooden Umbrella Swift (Medium)

A medium-sized solid Umbrella Swift, made of birch wood material with a finely sanded finish. This is a great quality swift.

The craftsmanship is evident, and it would look good in any craft space. Great care has been taken with the construction and performance to ensure it lasts years. An heirloom quality product.

Handles skein lengths of 6ft in circumference. When working, it’s quiet, and the spin is smooth. One of the more popular tool brands.

The manufacturer selects wood pieces without scars or blemishes. These yarn swifts are less vulnerable to breakage.

The ends of metal tying wires are hidden into holes, so no rough edges hurt your hands or snag the yarn.

You can get a swift and yarn winder to match from this company.

Pros

  • Easy to put together
  • The Stanwood Needlecraft Medium size holds up to 6ft skein in circumference.
  • Clamps to various surfaces, 1 3/4″ thick
  • Sturdy construction of high quality wood
  • Offers smooth spins due to the extra fine sanding and center spindle
  • Packs down for storage
  • Metal crank is fast and smooth
  • Creates a lovely yarn cake
  • Better performance than some other swifts
  • Great for large skeins
  • No toxic or unusual smelling varnish fume
  • Made of finely sanded birch wood

Cons

  • The clamp screw part sometimes cracks
  • Some might not like the hemp ties holding parts of the machine
  • It can break if dropped, stepped on, or bent, so take care.
Check Price on Amazon

Stanwood Needlecraft Wooden Umbrella Style (Large)

Stanwood Needlecraft Wooden Umbrella Swift Large

This umbrella style yarn swift is made of solid wood. The Stanwood Needlecraft large handles hanks with bigger circumferences. When folded out, it takes up space.

This Stanwood umbrella swift works well with all yarn weights. From the finest spun cashmere to super chunky merino roving.

With no metal hooks on the ribs to catch or snag yarn, even the finest strands wind off easily from start to finish. It’s possible to use this yarn swift vertically by attaching it to a chair back.

Pros

  • These umbrella style yarn swifts are made of solid quality wood
  • Handles hank sizes and skeins with an 8.5ft circumference
  • Clamps without scratching the surface
  • Easily adjust the clamp screw
  • Spins with ease.
  • Clamps on edges up to 1 3/4 thick
  • Exactly what you need in an umbrella design
  • No toxic varnish treatment
  • Compact when not in use

Cons

  • Some may not like the hemp ties (hemp cord) holding the umbrella ribs section
  • Clamp screws could crack after times of increased use, replacement screws are available
Check Price on 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 for smaller or larger rings of yarn. As the name suggests, it’s used on a table or the floor. Can handle skeins of many string types.

It spins smoothly and makes yarn winding fun.

There are no metal components or screws. It’s made completely of wood. The two wooden base sections fit together, and a short central dowel is placed in the middle. On the dowel is 2 arms; when crisscrossed, create the 4.

When not in use, disassemble and store this Amish style yarn swift.

Pros

  • Not difficult to assemble.
  • Fine sanded finish, so no heavy wood varnish fumes.
  • Sturdy when on tables as it has 4 non-slip pads
  • Easily adjusted to hold hank sizes of skeins 2 1/2 – 6 ft in circumference
  • Smooth spinning
  • Adjustable pegs
  • Quality parts easily come apart for convenient storage.

Cons

  • It’s big, not suitable if you have limited space
  • Some found it makes a loud noise when rotating. Use wood wax to fix it
Check Price on Amazon

Maple Tabletop Swift

This swift receives 5 stars from lots of happy customers.

This melds the simplicity of their popular tabletop swift arm design with a sealed metal ball bearing system. Suits many different hank circumferences and smoothly winds the big loop of yarn into a ball.

They pride themselves on attention to detail in this skein winder. This company has sold top-quality fiber arts products for years.

Made from maple and cabinet-grade maple plywood in their workshop. This beautiful yarn swift lasts for many years. Creates perfect cakes.

Pros

  • Receives 5 star ratings
  • Sturdy materials
  • Smooth surface
  • An example of high quality woodworking skills
  • Excellent bang for your buck
  • Simple instructions
  • Rubber stoppers are screwed into the base to keep in place

Cons

  • Will need space

Schacht Ultra Umbrella Swift

Schacht Umbrella Swift

Models the expert knitters and yarn store owners use. This swift is a workhorse. These designs are tough, sturdy, and reliable enough to give to the next generations.

Use this swift both horizontally or angle vertically using a quick-release pin. A swiveling knob and ball bearings create a smooth winding experience. You can choose the option of adding a counter.

YouTube video

Pros

  • The arms on these umbrella style yarn swifts open from the top down
  • This swift clamps on most tables, even those with thick edges
  • Smooth surface with fine sanding
  • Easy setup with a simple clamp system
  • Steel pins and plastic buttons hold the ribs in place
  • This heavy duty swift accommodates hank sizes and hank circumferences up to 93″ in diameter
  • Large capacity
  • Accommodation of different types of yarn weights and yarn types
  • Highly durable middle shaft and metal supports
  • Collapses for storage
  • Screw in clamps don’t damage the surface
  • The horizontal or vertical position means you can set it up anywhere!
  • No yarn snagging
  • Strong, thick screws

Cons

  • Not lightweight
  • Requires a suitable area to mount it
Beka Yarn Swift used by @ oakandashe with cream coloured yarn loaded on it
Beka Yarn Swift | Credit – @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 ball bearings making it spin smoothly. It sits on top of furniture, no need for clamping.

Moving yarn up or down accommodates different sizing.

It’s made up of these wooden parts

  • 2 long bottom bars to support the dowels
  • 2 shorter bars holding the dowels in place on the top
  • 4 wooden dowels
  • A center support beam
  • A base like a lazy susan
  • A top nob with a washer
  • 4 rubber feet.

This unit is not complicated to assemble. Due to the dowels’ sloping, put smaller yarn circles towards the top and larger ones near the bottom.

Pros

  • Fewer parts mean it’s easy to assemble with clear instructions
  • Rotates smoothly
  • Can comfortably accommodate skeins of varying sizes
  • Quiet spinning of the circle of yarn
  • Great stability and sturdy build
  • Easily fits a 1 yarn skein
  • Simple to place the wool over the top
  • Squeak free
  • Will securely hold in place
  • This yarn swift makes it easy to wind yarn
  • Great value for money

Cons

  • Doesn’t fold down for easy storage. Disassemble it and pack away pieces in the storage bag
  • Requires a fair amount of space
  • Spinning can be a bit tight and stiff at first
  • Don’t wind too tight as there is a chance the yarn will loose elasticity
Check Price on Amazon

ChiaoGoo Wooden Amish Style

ChiaoGoo Amish Design

The Chiaogoo Amish Design Swift has a smooth wood finish. Handles up to 62” circumference skein of yarn. It has 4 moveable pegs making it adjustable to fit different skein loops.

Putting together this Amish style wooden yarn swift isn’t difficult. It comes in 4 pieces, 2 for the base and two to make the crisscrossed arm sections.

There are 5 dowels, 4 used as pegs, and a shorter one placed in the base’s centre, which the arms go over.

The peg holes are labeled with the size skein in inches and centimeters.

Pros

  • Simple and fun to use
  • Few parts so it’s easy to assemble
  • This swift design handles varying circumferences of skein loops
  • No clamps – sits flat on the table or floor.
  • Suits hank size from small to large
  • Smooth finish
  • Doesn’t slide because of the non skid pads
  • Made of solid and durable wood

Cons

  • Doesn’t fold and pack away, but users found it easy to disassemble
  • Needs space
  • Not easy to store
  • Small range of sizes it holds
  • Wood can dry out or collect moisture
Check Price on Amazon

Knitter’s Pride Signature Series Swift

Lacis Swift Yarn Winder

An umbrella-style swift. This style wooden yarn swift clamps on the edge of a table, bench, or chair. Works with smaller amounts of yarn.

Pros

  • Easy to assemble
  • Simple to use
  • Very little hassle to store as it folds down
  • Great value

Cons

  • Not as smooth a finish as other swifts. There’s a risk some yarns may catch. My advice tip is to sand it to return the smoothness.
  • The rivet holding the ribbing section together sometimes breaks

Check Price on Amazon

CuteDIY Umbrella Swift

Cutehill Umbrella Swift

The whole fixture is made of plastic and metal, so it’s not as sturdy as wooden styles.

This thing works well with 4 ounces of yarn.

Readers got in touch and said these plastic yarn swifts work great as a basic, low-cost budget option. Excellent choice for knitters who don’t wind lots.

It’s lightweight with a compact design and packs down for easy storage. This swift easily converts to a vertical by the turn of a wing nut. It’s fragile.

Pair with a compact yarn ball winder, and you’re good to go!

Pros

  • Easy to assemble and use
  • Folds down for compact storage space
  • Suits smaller circles of skein sizes
  • They spin round smoothly
  • Fairly sturdy clamp on base
  • Thick metal parts, so it lasts longer
  • Budget friendly price

Cons

  • Needs padding between it and the table due to burrs in the plastic covering for the clamp.
  • The metal loops may catch the yarn
  • Not very durable material or plastic components
  • Clamps may leave marks on a wood table
Check Price on Amazon

Buying Decision Checklist

Are you ready to make things easier by having a yarn swift?

Here is a quick checklist to consider

  • Sturdy Construction? – YES/NO
  • Smooth Finish? – YES/NO
  • Ease Of Set-Up? – YES/NO
  • Sturdy Table Clamps? – YES/NO
  • What Style? – Umbrella Or Tabletop Swifts?
  • Adjustable For Different Circumferences Of Yarn? – YES/NO
  • Packs Down For Storage? – YES/NO
  • Do You Have Enough Space To Store It? – YES/NO
  • Can You Easily Get Metal Screw Replacements? – YES/NO

If you use smaller weight yarns, get a small swift. If not, get a bigger one.

What Is A Yarn Swift?

Yarn Swift materials are either wood or metal and plastic. It’s considered an essential tool for any knitter or crocheter. Most yarn swifts are wooden.

Yarns are often sold as hanks or skeins. What is a hank of yarn? A hank is yarn loosely wound into a large ring shape and twisted on itself.

This tool holds yarn hanks or skeins of yarn in place, and when it spins, yarn streams from it in a single, untangled strand.

It will hold hanks, and it’s for winding yarn into yarn balls.

Also used by spinners and hand yarn dyers for the opposite process. They use it as a skein winder to wind loose yarn into a big circle, then put it in a hank form.

There are numerous types, but they all create center pull balls or cakes.

  • Handheld
  • Tabletop design
  • Umbrella-style
  • Vertical (aka Squirrel Cage)

Do I Need A Yarn Swift?

Everything depends on how you buy your yarn. If you use hanks of yarn, get one! They allow for trouble-free balling, free from tangles and knots.

These tools are not just for knitters, crocheters, thread makers and weavers too!

Using yarn winders with your yarn swift, you create yarn cakes (yarn muffins) rather than yarn balls. (I recommend it.)

Is A Yarn Swift Winder Worth It?

Yes! The best yarn swifts are a great tool. Of course you want to get back to knitting faster!

Winding with a yarn winder and yarn swift is fun. In combination with each other, easily wrap yarn into cakes.

To use a yarn winder and see your stash of hanks and skeins, becoming neat little yarn cakes is addictive. Don’t let it take you away from projects!

 By The Bay Yarn Co hand dyed yarns on her swift
By The Bay Yarn Co Follow Wende on Instagram for more knitting inspiration @bythebayyarnco

How To Use

Here is how a swift works.

Winding yarns with a yarn swift – start by clamping the swift onto a table or countertop. To protect your table surfaces, expert knitters recommend using a tablecloth or some padding. (Goodbye dining room chairs!)

Winding with a winder and swift – Repeat the above process for the winder.

To make the whole process of winding a ball from a skein, follow these simple instructions:

  • First, slide the clamp at the base of the yarn swift onto your table and tighten the bolt.
  • Remove the label and untwist the skein or yarn hank.
  • Pop the ring of yarn strands over the top of the yarn swift
  • Pull the ring of fiber lightly so the hank’s far side is against the middle shaft.
  • Open up the arms of the closed yarn swift like an umbrella by pushing the tightening screw upward. (Umbrella swift is a common name for this tool)
  • Do this until the yarn or skein form is taut on the yarn swift.
  • Then secure the umbrella clamp in place.
  • Spin around and find all the tied sections of the yarn hank/skein. Remove these ties.
  • There’s one end on the outside and the other on the inside. Use the end on the outside to start winding yarn.
  • The yarn swift holds the yarn in place with even tension. Now wind the yarn!
  • Start slowly with a gentle tug, so you see how the yarn swift and the wool winder works and how fast the yarn winds. Then you can speed up.
  • Neat yarn cakes (a center pull yarn ball) forms with little effort. The yarn swift works as you wind your yarn. Such fun!
YouTube video

How to Use A Yarn Swift and Ball Winder

Using an Umbrella Swift and a Ball Winder Combo saves you an enormous amount of time. For recommendations on yarn ball winders, visit my post.

The beauty of using a winder and yarn swift is center pull cakes. (Having the end in the middle is convenient when it’s time to knit.)

Here is a fabulous tutorial by Stacey at Very Pink Knits. She demonstrates how to ball yarn. Watch the way how yarn in hank form becomes neat yarn cakes.

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

Getting To Know The Different Types

Kristine Kelly of Ewe University showcases different types of yarn swift in her video. I enjoyed watching it and found it informative.

I’ve summarized it by giving the essential points. Skip to the 19.59 mark for great information on the best Yarn Swifts and the best yarn winders.

Here are the types of yarn swifts.

Colorful circle of yarns by Knit Picks r
SHOP KNIT PICKS FOR BEAUTIFUL YARNS.
Free Shipping for the United States orders $65+, and they have excellent customer service.

Umbrella Yarn Swift

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

The most common swifts are umbrella swifts (aka horizontal swifts.) They’re made of wood or metal and collapse for storage.

Umbrella style swifts have a flat base for a tabletop surface or a clamp to attach to a table’s side. You can use an umbrella swift vertically. Some are tall and stand on the floor. Materials vary from wood to metal and plastic.

(There are also combination swifts, Amish and umbrella styles in one.)

Tabletop or Amish Style

Amish Wooden Yarn Swift from Ewe University

The Tabletop Yarn Swift or Amish style swift seems to be gaining in popularity. One of the factors is they are solid and great for beginners. Jump to 25.36 to see the Amish style Swift.

Amish yarn swifts are made of wood with two pieces of wood crisscrossing in the middle to create 4 arms. On this type of yarn swift each of the arms, there are various holes to insert peg. It can accommodate hanks of different sizes.

The diagonally placed wood is bolted together at the center.

If you or someone you know woodwork, these swifts aren’t difficult to make.

The bottom has rubber or felt pads to protect surfaces and prevent scratches.

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

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

The Amish Swift is placed on top of a table or flat surface, holding skeins and spins around. No need for clamps.

Jump to 27:25 to see an this swift in action.

Amish style swifts take up a lot of space, especially if using a yarn winder and swift. Storing one is an issue. Some come apart, but some do not. Keep in mind your storage options.

Favored by spinners/dyers for their hand-dyed and spun yarns to form hanks.

What Is An Amish Yarn Swift?

An Amish Yarn Swift (otherwise known as a tabletop yarn swift) is a swift of simple wooden design. It fits almost any skein or hank and will spin easily.

An Amish style swift has

  • A swivel base
  • 4 arms (2 pieces of wood crisscrossing)

Each Amish or tabletop style arms has pre drilled holes in them, with 4 removable pegs. The pegs move depending on the size of yarn and how big the loop of an unwound skein is.

The pegs in the arms hold the yarn hank in place as the yarn swift spins, creating a center pull ball.

You need to consider the amount of space you have available when using a yarn swift. Something to do is make sure you check the dimensions.

Goko Schact Yarn Swift loaded with teal green yarn

Vertical Yarn Swift

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

These swifts for sale range in price depending on the features included. People are making these styles of umbrella swifts and then selling them online. Most users seem to be dyers who package their yarns in hank form.

Some people make handmade vertical swifts, but I recommend buying one. They’re a bit fragile.

The vertical swift Kristine owns is the Schacht Goko angled swift.

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

The Goko Yarn Swift is a vertical and angled swift. It has a Japanese design style based on industrial swifts. Kristine finds it excellent for fine, delight fibers like lace weight yarn. She also uses it for other yarn weights.

This type of swift isn’t super popular in the knitting world.

How to Use a Vertical Yarn Swift

Place the swift on a table or the floor. It has a wood base with 2 arms extending upwards and an aluminum wheel where the yarn loop is set.

She notes the wheel is fragile on this device and could be bent if dropped. However, the lightness and flexibility of the thin metal wheel make it work well and rotations smooth.

The Goko Swift model copes with yarn loop circumferences of 57” to 64”. It’s not as adjustable as other types. Storage is an issue.

However, it’s an item of interest and adds character to a craft room.

Here’s the video. Worth watching!

YouTube video

Amish Yarn Swift vs Umbrella Swift

If you have space in your home for a swift on the table, try the Amish Yarn Swift. Though they don’t pack away easily.

The Umbrella Swift folds down and is easily stored away.

What you choose is a matter of taste.

Sarah at Map and Loom Umbrella Wooden Yarn Swift with natural yarn
Follow Sarah on Instagram @Mapandloom for more great pics and visit her store https://www.etsy.com/shop/mapandloom for beautiful handwoven scarves.

Hope you find the yarn swift to make winding hanks easier. Have fun knitting or crocheting!

Do you have a favorite swift I haven’t mentioned? Have a question?

Anything I’ve missed? Let me know in the comments section below. Your email address is never published.

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About Jodie Morgan

Hi. I’m Jodie, creator of Knit Like Granny. (Yes, I’m real :) ) Thanks for being here.

I started Knit Like Granny to show 1,000,000 people the joys of knitting & highlight alternatives to fast fashion.

I love knitting and have met so many fabulous knitters through this site. I enjoy learning and helping others discover the joys of working with yarn.

Please say hello!

17 thoughts on “My Yarn Swift Guide. What to Choose & How to Use. 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!

    Reply
  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).

    Reply
  3. Thanks for a fantastic and very informative article! I am new to all of this and years ago when I first learned to knit our local yarn shop would wind wool for loyal customers even if it wasn’t purchased there. The shop is long closed and I am picking up knitting needles again and decided I needed my own support tools!

    Reply
    • Thanks so much Elizabeth for your kind words, so glad you’ve found my post helpful. What a lovely yarn shop that must have been, sorry to hear it is no longer in your area. Having a swift and a yarn winder are certainly a great investment for a knitter. I’d love to hear back from you on which option you end up selecting and once you’ve used your ‘support tools’, as you so aptly described let me know your thoughts. Happy Knitting! Cheers Jodie

      Reply
  4. My head is spinning! Literally!!! I’m retired now and can no longer bring my yarn to work and have a friend use her equipment. Time for my own. I think I’m going to purchase the Stanwood medium. Thanks for the excellent review.

    Reply
    • Love your use of puns Linda! What a great idea to get your own yarn swift. So glad my guide has helped you. Let me know how you get on and the what you think of the Stanwood swift. Happy knitting 🙂 Cheers Jodie

      Reply
    • Hi Susie. That’s great to hear that you’ve been saved time and effort. Hope you’ve found a swift to suit you. Cheers Jodie

      Reply
    • Thanks Annette for your recommendation. How did you have to modify it and where did you purchase it from? Cheers Jodie

      Reply

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