A Little Yarn About Carol and Cynthia, Two Best Friends Who Love To Knit
Good friends Carol and Cynthia are both avid knitters. They are similar in their knitting speed, gauge and tension and the difficulty of patterns they choose.
Every season, Carol always manages to produce more knitted garments than Cynthia.
Cynthia although a fast knitter, with every new purchase of a gorgeous skein of hand dyed yarn, she opts to wind her yarn into balls by hand.
This often involves getting her reluctant husband, to hold the skein for her.
If he was really unwilling, she would use the back of one of their dining room chairs.
Sure she got to watch her favorite T.V shows, whilst winding the balls but she took a long time to achieve balls ready to knit.
Carol realized early on in her knitting days, that winding yarn by hand was time consuming and for her, a tad annoying.
She had discovered the ease of using a yarn winder in her local yarn store.
It occurred to her that having the convenience of one at home was the go.
Having researched yarn ball winder reviews, she opted for a yarn winder made of sturdy materials and could handle 10 ounces of yarn and a wooden yarn umbrella swift.
Carol was one happy woman. Her beautifully formed, center pull yarn cakes were a joy to work with and also to store. Her yarn stash looked super organized.
Carol created gorgeous knits every season and adored the ease of using her yarn winder.
One day Cynthia went over to Carol’s for a coffee and a chat.
On the dining room table, was Carol’s yarn winder and swift set up with a skein of colorful hand dyed yarn.
Cynthia asked for a quick demonstration and was amazed. Now she knew why Carol produced more knitted items.
Later that afternoon Cynthia jumped on her computer and bought a yarn winder and swift online. She couldn’t wait for them to arrive!
Thanks for visiting 🙂
In this post we share the results of our best Yarn Winders research for 2018.
Looking for something specific? See our table of contents below.
In a hurry? Check out our At A Glance section below.
Something we forgot? Leave a question or comment at the end.
At A Glance: The 8 models we've chosen as contenders
for the Best Yarn Winder
Note: Clicking the above links will take you to further information, current prices and customer reviews on Amazon.
Yarn Winders make knitting so much easier.
Your Yarn stash will have never looked so tidy! Colourful Yarn cakes all neat and organized.
There are many types of yarn ball winders on the market – simple hand operated ones, beautiful wooden winders and electrical yarn ball winders.
There are many Yarn Winders to choose from, we've researched what's out there and made some recommendations.
Every knitter needs a Yarn winder.
We've read suggestions from top bloggers and sifted through 5 star reviews.
Here is a list of the best Yarn Winders we’ve found based on hours of researching online.
Updates - This post was last updated on the 11 April 2018.
Table of Contents
Why Would You Want a Yarn Winder?
What To Look For In a Yarn Winder
Using a Yarn Winder and Swift
Which Yarn Winder Should You Buy?
Checklist for Buying a Yarn Winder
Stanwood Needlecraft YBW-A Hand-Operated Yarn Ball Winder, 4-Ounce
Heavy Duty Ball Winder by Nancy's Knit-Knack
Lacis Jumbo Ball Winder
How to Set Up and Use a Yarn Ball Winder
Standwood Needlecraft 10oz
Knit Picks Yarn Ball Winder
Darice Yarn Winder
U-nitt Metal Jumbo large yarn/wool/string/fiber ball winder hand operated capacity 10 oz ML702
EUBeisaqi Swift Yarn Fiber String Ball Wool Winder Holder Hand Operated
Lacis Yarn Ball Winder II Weaving Yarn
Simplicity Boye Electric Yarn Winder
Jumbo Yarn Ball Winder Design by Neat Knit
Why would you want a Yarn Winder?
Use it for Unwound Yarn
There is nothing worse than a horrible tangled mess, when knitting directly from a skein or hank of yarn. A hank is a long shape, loosely twisted and many beautiful, expensive, hand spun or hand dyed yarns come in this shape. Yarn purchased from craft stores/online are typically sold in skeins. The best bit is that you can make center pull cakes so you don't have it rolling all over the place as you use it.
What is the difference between a ball and a cake then?
A ball is round and usually wound by hand. A cake is wound using a winder, has tubular shape and two flat sides. A cake is created when winding yarn with a winder.
If you have a yarn winder, it is very easy to wind yarns into cakes. A cake is a roll with two flat sides so it won’t roll. The tail left in the middle of the yarn cake means it’s very easy to pull it out from the middle, without the usual scrambling for the end inside the yarn ball and almost inevitable knot jumping out instead.
Alessandra from Just Be Happy Life's great visual for the different ways yarn comes in. And if you also crochet you will love her site.
Many commercially wound yarns are very loose. This is great for storing, they can squish down but a well wound ball or hank will help with maintaining uniform tension throughout a knitting project.
Using a Yarn Winder helps with examining the Yarn for knots and imperfections and color changes.
When using a yarn winder, examining the yarn for thin or weak points and knots will help determine where in the project each skein, hank or ball of yarn should go. In some yarns color changes are important. Rewinding the yarn will help determine where and how to use the yarn you have.
What to Look for in a Yarn Winder
When looking for a yarn winder, look for something that is built to last. If there are plastic bits, make sure they are not going to break right away.
Check the protection of the gears. If the yarn is likely to slip underneath the gears will eat your yarn up. In sturdy yarn winders, the gears are typically better protected.
The table clamp should also be sturdy and have a good grip, preferably without damaging the surface.
Easy Crank System:
You want something that can hold up to some serious cranking. Whilst operating the crank it should feel smooth and have an even tension whilst not pulling on the yarn. It will want to feel sturdy and not like it is going to break off!
Ease of Set Up:
For Yarn Ball Winder beginners you want something that doesn't need hours, reading the manual on how to operate it. Quick, easy and simple is what you'll need.
Here is a fabulous video tutorial by Stacey at Very Pink Knits on
Using a Yarn Winder and Swift
Using a Yarn Swift with a Yarn Winder
It is not completely necessary to also have a Yarn swift to use a Yarn Winder, however it does make life easier. Yarn Swift holds your hanks or skeins of yarn in place as you wind them into balls. See the video to see a Yarn Swift in action or read our Yarn Swift Reviews and Buyer's Guide
Which Yarn Winder should I buy?There are many yarn winders on the market. We've listed some of the most popular with the pros and cons for each.swift winder that goes with this Yarn Ball winder.
- The Stanwood Needlecraft YBW-A Hand-Operated Yarn Ball Winder makes smaller 4.oz. balls with centre pull, this ensures you will never have a tangled mess.
- The table clamp has a range of about 1 3/4" so it means you can clamp it to a variety of tables, shelves or even a chair.
- Made of strong materials
- Very easy to crank, with a sturdy metal crank, it makes smooth, easy to wind balls.
- Smaller balls means you sometimes may have to cut skeins into two pieces.
Looking For Some Craft Inspiration?
Receive hand picked inspiration for your hand crafted obsessions from my other site, Crafty Like Granny every Monday for free!
- The Stanwood Needlecraft Large Metal Yarn/Fiber/Wool/String Ball Winder makes larger 10 oz. balls.
- With the stanwood needlecraft winder there is no need to cut 8 oz. skeins in half.
- Very sturdy construction that is mostly metal apart from the cogwheels, which are made from a durable nylon material that won’t wear down.
- Designed for heavy duty use, this ‘jumbo’ model has electrostatic paint so it won’t chip or wear off.
- Requires little assembly so it’s straight forward to use.
With proper care it will last you for many years. It’s also quiet and doesn’t rattle or make any more noise than the smaller model, due to it’s smooth and even crank.
- Makes nice, easy to stack and store yarn “cakes” with a hole in the middle where the yarn pulls from the centre.
- Overall, a great choice for those who want something with a bit more heft and are going to be doing a lot of winding.
- Takes some time to master but after a winding a few skeins, it becomes easier.
Steps To Setting Up Your Yarn Ball Winder
Some of you may choose to use a Yarn Swift to hold your skein or hank, with your yarn ball winder. Some people are quite happy to use the back of a dining room chair to hold yarn or a very loving and patient member of the family!!
Find a sturdy bench or table to set up your yarn winder and yarn swift. If the table will be marked with the clamps, add a cloth over the top for protection.
Experts report that the best distance to place between your yarn winder and yarn swift is 12 to 18 inches. Use the clamps at the base of each piece of equipment to secure them to the table. Make sure the bolts are tightened.
How To Not Get In A Tangle When Placing the Yarn on the Swift
- Gently unwind the hank or skein and remove the ties that kept the yarn together. If you are using scissors to do this, be very careful. You need to watch you are not cutting into the yarn.
- Check for twists and make sure the yarn is in a nice big loop.
- Find the two ends and make sure they are free from the skein.
- Most swifts are like an umbrella, hence the common name for these knitting devices (umbrella swift)
- You push up the knob at the bottom of pole on the swift and as you do so the arms will spread out.
- The spread of the arms of the swift need to ensure that your yarn loop fits snuggly around the outside of them. Some adjustment will be required here, depending on the size of the loop.
Next steps...Connecting the Yarn to the Ball Winder
- Find the end of the skein of yarn that's on the outside. This will be the end that you connect to your yarn winder.
- Slip the end of the yarn through the metal yarn guide and into the slit at the top of the winder. This end will be where you access center pull from your yarn cake.
Creating Your Center Pull Yarn Cake - Happy Days!
- Slowly crank the handle and the yarn ball winder will start to spin the yarn into a cake.
- Use your other hand to gently guide the yarn between the yarn swift and the ball winder.
- Increase your speed a little more making sure that both winder and swift are moving freely.
- You'll have a yarn cake in no time!!
Removing the Yarn Cake from the Winder
- The Yarn Swift will have no more yarn attached
- Simply use your pincher fingers on one hand to hold the yarn that's in the slit at the top of the winder.
- Use your other hand to gently slide the yarn cake off the yarn winder.
- The end that you have in your pincher fingers will be the center pull end.
- Unwind the a couple of feet of yarn from the outside and then wrap around the middle a few times and tuck in that end. This won't bother you until you get to the end of the yarn cake.
- Ta da!! A beautiful easy to use yarn cake is now ready.
Happy Knitting 🙂
- The Yarn Ball Winder by KnitPicks is a cheap and cheerful model makes small 3.5 oz balls so it’s great for small projects or lightweight yarn.
- Clamps easily to the table without scratching the surface.
- Although it has mostly plastic components it can stand up to many “winds”.
- It has directional arrows on the crank to show you which direction to go in and a three step set up so it’s perfect for beginners.
- It’s small size means it stores away easily in its own box and the directions are written on the box so it’s very user friendly.
- It pivots too, so you can position it for maximum comfort and ease of use. If you suffer from Arthritis and tendonitis this will be appreciated.
- While it might not be able to go as fast as some of the other bigger models, it still has the smooth, even crank system.
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!
- The Heavy Duty Ball Winder by Nancys Knit-Knacks can wind up to 1 lb. at a time.
- Comes fully assemble with you only having to put the handle and yarn guide on it.
- Has a sleek ergonomic design and focuses more on using your arm for winding.
- Can be adjusted in several different ways so you can adjust the yarn ball at five different angles relative to the positioning of the machine.
- Guaranteed to be easy to use and comfortable. It also has adjustable options for tension and yarn ball size.Requires little assembly so it’s straight forward to use.
- It’s made of maple hardwood in the USA and has Swiss gears.
- It has a one-year warranty and an option of adding an electric motor if you want.
- 2% chance of experiencing yarn becoming tangled and over spun.
Learn To Do What You Love Better
No matter water skill level, there is always something new to learn. Online knitting classes means you can go at your own pace, at a time that suits you.
- Cast iron construction and all metal gears
- Wind a ball of up to 10 oz in no time!
- The winder can be clamped onto a table up to 2 1/8" thick.
- Easy tool-less assembly.
- One year manufacturer warranty.
- If you go too fast, you aren't able to control the tension well and this can mean the yarn will wrap around the spool above the ball you're winding.
Dr Kelly from Ewe University Knitting Podcast reviews 6 different styles of yarn winders.
Her reviews are very helpful in seeing each of the yarn winders in action.
Dr Kelly's recommendations are frank and honest.
If you'd like to skip right to the Yarn Winder review section, head to 11.08 in the video feed.
In her video she reviews the following:
Handmade Wooden Nostepinne
Knit Picks Yarn Ball Winder
Stanwood Needle Craft 4oz Yarn Ball Winder
Stanwood Needle Craft 10oz Yarn Ball Winder
Knitter's Pride Wool Winder
Strauch Jumbo Ball Winder
Nancy's Knit Knacks Heavy Duty Ball Winder
“Properly practiced, knitting soothes the troubled spirit, and it doesn't hurt the untroubled spirit either.”
― Elizabeth Zimmermann
- Great for winding large hanks and leftover skeins into perfect cakes of yarn.
- Winds up to 4 ounces of yarn without requiring any cones or tubes.
- The set-up is simple and the instructions are easy to follow.
- The arm does slip once in a while.
- Not able to wind large amounts of yarn.
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 🙂
- Wind skeins or hanks of yarn into neat balls in seconds using Boye's electric yarn ball winder; saves your wrists and time.
- No set-up required; easy to use; instructional video available.
- Uses 120v a/c power, batteries not necessary.
- The Boye Electric Yarn ball winder manual is easy to understand.
- Not a very powerful motor.
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.
- The Easy turn handle design allows for winding of large yarn balls and less strain on your wrists.
- All metal construction and metal gears means it is designed for durability and years of use.
- 10oz of yarn can be wound with ease.
- The Jumbo Yarn Ball Winder Design by Neat Knit Mounts to any table or flat surface with a hand turn screw.
- Creates center pull yarn balls.
- The Yarn can sometimes get wrapped around the spool if you go to fast.
Checklist for Buying a Yarn Winder
So there you go. Are you ready to make things easier for yourself with a yarn winder?
Here is a quick checklist to consider when buying a yarn winder:
Sturdy Construction YES/NO
Easy Crank System YES/NO
Ease of Set Up YES/NO
Winds up to 4 0z of yarn YES/NO
Winds up to 8 oz of yarn or above YES/NO
Do you have a favourite yarn winder 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.