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Yarn Winder Buying Guide. Worth It? The 13 Best Yarn Ball Winders

Sick of messy yarn? Every knitter needs a yarn winder.

My Quick Recommendations

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

Reading my full reviews of the best yarn ball winders.

Yarn WInder Feat Img

Having a Yarn Winder makes knitting much easier and saves time.

There are many yarn ball winders.

  • Hand-operated ones
  • Beautiful wooden winders
  • Electrical yarn ball winders

Knitting technologies benefit knitters wanting to be efficient.

Stylish Storage Solutions by Knit Picks

Table of Contents

Stanwood Needlecraft YBW Hand-Operated

Stanwood Needlecraft YBW-A Hand-Operated Yarn Ball Winder, 4-Ounce

This hand-operated winder makes center-pull yarn cakes from 4 oz. balls. Say goodbye to a tangled mess of yarn. It’s strong and easy to crank.

If winding from swifts, buy one with this winder. This is what I discuss in my best Yarn Swift Review.

Pros

  • The table clamp has a range of 1 3/4″
  • Made of quality materials
  • Easy to crank
  • Great value for money
  • Doesn’t take up much space
  • Excellent for winding scrap yarn

Cons

  • Only creates smaller balls. You may have to cut a larger ball in two
Check Price on Amazon

Stanwood Needlecraft Large

Stanwood Needlecraft Large Ball Winder, 10-Ounce

This larger version makes large 10 oz. balls. It’s easy to use, sturdy, and made of heavy-duty materials. Easy to put together and store away.

Stanwood has a reputation for high-quality knitting accessories. One of the best yarn winders on the market.

The Stanwood Needlecraft Large metal winder works with fingering weights to bulky weights. Handles cotton, wool, acrylic, and luxury yarns, like silk, cashmere, and merino.

The cost is worth the investment considering it will last for years and wind lots of yarn.

Pros

  • No need to cut 8 oz. balls in half
  • Features sturdy metal construction apart from the cogwheels, made from durable nylon material
  • Designed for heavy-duty use
  • Electrostatic paint so it won’t chip or wear off
  • Requires little assembly
  • Excellent for large skeins
  • Straightforward to use
  • Lasts many years
  • Super smooth operation and quiet
  • Anti skid rubber pads on the bottom keep it stable while protecting your table from scratches
  • Has a metal table clamp to grip to a surface
  • Makes nice yarn “cakes” with a hole where the yarn pulls from the center
  • Good value for money

Cons

  • Takes time to master
Check Price on Amazon

Knit Picks Yarn Ball Winder

Knit Picks Yarn Winder

Makes 3.5 oz balls, perfect for lightweight thread. This winder pivots. If you have pain in your hands and wrists, this style is comfortable.

Pros

  • Cheap
  • Makes 3.5 oz yarn balls
  • Great for small projects or lightweight yarn
  • Clamps to tables without scratching the surface
  • Although it’s mostly plastics, it’s sturdy. The yarn guide is metal
  • Has directional arrows on the crank to show you which direction to go
  • Even cranking with minimal effort
  • A three-step setup
  • Perfect for beginners to wind yarn
  • Small, it stores in its box
  • User-friendly directions on the carton
  • Good if you have a tight budget
  • Position it for comfort and ease of use
  • Good if you have arthritis and tendonitis
  • Lightweight and portable, you can take it anywhere
  • The pull thread yarn balls mean your yarn comes out from the center.

Cons

  • Not as fast as some of the bigger models

Maple Jumbo Winder

Maple Jumbo Winder

This hand-crafted Maple wood knitting tool is a quiet achiever. It can wind up to 1 pound of fingering weight yarn at a time. It’s a workhorse.

It’s easy to assemble. Use it on your workspace or tabletop or clamped on an edge. It’s portable and simple to use. The style is charming.

Dimensions:

It winds approximately

  • Fingering weight – 1 pound
  • Worsted weight yarn – 10 ounces

Pros

  • Easy turn handle design allows for winding large yarn balls
  • Less strain if you have wrist problems
  • Smooth winding motion
  • Replaceable parts
  • These winders are designed for durability and years of use
  • Made in the United States
  • Large spindle capacity
  • Hard maple and premium maple veneered plywood parts
  • One year guarantee
  • Transform yarn hanks into compact center-pull yarn balls
  • Place on a surface or clamp
  • Dimensions don’t take up lots of space
  • Ergonomic design
  • Simple instructions in the info booklet
  • Excellent customer service if you have any questions or issues
  • Constructed to last a lifetime

Cons

  • Needs cleaning if you use it often

Hand-Turned Nostepinne

Gerneral Bailey Farm Hand turned light wood nostepinne

Made of wood with a varnished finish. The carved handle is comfortable to hold. There’s a groove at the top to tie on the yarn to start winding. Use a hitch knot to begin at the top.
The other groves are for decoration.

Use a yarn winder like a Nostepinne if you have little room and are happy to wind by hand. It is a simple thing of beauty.

Hand wound wool winders like these are perfect for winding a yarn hank and yarn skeins.

Pros

  • The feature of simplicity
  • Creates center-pull balls
  • Great budget product option
  • Portable

Cons

  • Only winds as fast as you can
  • The number of cakes you can wind will be less
  • Take care as too much tension stretches the yarn

Dr. Kelly from Ewe University Knitting Podcast reviews six styles. Her reviews have each of the yarn winders in action. Dr. Kelly’s recommendations are frank and honest.

If you’d like to skip to the Yarn Winders review section, head to 11.08. In her video, she reviews the following:

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

Beisaqi Winder Hand Operated

Beisaqi Winder Hand Operated

Easy to install, portable, and lightweight. Good for smaller ball sizes of yarn.

Once wound your skeins or hanks will be easy to pop into a yarn bowl and knit. It helps make things easier.

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Center pull cake
  • Place on your working desk or bench.
  • Minimal noise
  • Good for beginners to knitting

Cons

  • Instructions aren’t so easy to understand.
Check Price on Amazon

U-nitt Metal Jumbo Hand Operated 10 oz

U-nitt Metal Jumbo Hand Operated 10 oz

This heavy-duty yarn winder is easy to assemble and clamps to a table without damaging it. It winds up to 10 ounces of yarn.

It has two metal swing arms, one to hold the yarn, the other to keep the tension, so you don’t have to do it.

The winder can make neat and compact center-pull cakes. Perfect for many yarn weights and handles larger hanks of yarn.

Pros

  • The cogwheels and gears operate smoothly
  • Components are built to last
  • Sturdy spindle
  • One year manufacturers warranty
  • Winds large hanks with flat sides
  • Clamps to surfaces up to 2 1/8″ thick
  • Easy assembly
  • Cast iron construction

Cons

  • Squeaks
  • If you go too fast, you can’t control the tension
Check Price on Amazon

Lacis II

Lacis Yarn Ball Winder II Weaving Yarn

Winds up to 4 oz of yarn. Great for winding leftover yarn into tidy yarn cakes. One of the choices for a light and portable yarn winder.

Pros

  • Great for winding hanks and leftover skeins into cakes of yarn
  • Winds yarn without requiring cones or tubes
  • Simple set-up
  • Instructions are clear.

Cons

  • The arm slips occasionally
  • Doesn’t handle large amounts of fibers
Check Price on Amazon

Lacis Jumbo

Lacis  Jumbo

Winds up to 7 oz of yarn. Winds the Yarn at a diagonal and creates yarn cakes. Great for different types and weights of yarn.

It handles bulky weight yarns to lace-weight yarns. Experiment with your tension using different types of yarn to ensure no difficulty.

A screwdriver with a magnetic tip is included. Handy for putting in the screws.

Pros

  • Easy to set up the pieces
  • Great for winding regular yarn
  • Can wind larger amounts of yarn
  • Durable
  • Withstands many winds

Cons

  • Go slowly in the beginning until you get the hang of it
Check Price on Amazon
Mollie23 loves using her winder
@mollie23 loves winding. Follow @mollie23 for more great pics.

Simplicity Boye Electric

Simplicity Boye Electric Yarn Winder

An Electric Yarn Winder using 120v a-c power. It winds by itself. Follow the easy manual and watch your yarn wind into neat and tidy cakes.

This winder is often unavailable, and some found the electric motor didn’t last.

Looking for a powered yarn winder built to last? I recommend the Standard Maple Electric Winder. One of the excellent contenders for an electric yarn winder. Winding is a breeze.

Check Price on Amazon

Windaze Yarn Ball Winder

WIndaze Yarn Ball Winder

Wind up to 7oz skeins of yarn. Mount to any table edge or flat surface. Designed for durability and performance.

If this winder is unavailable, I recommend the Stanwood Needlecraft 4oz winder.

Pros

  • The Easy turn handle design allows for winding yarn balls and less strain on your wrists.
  • 7oz ball of yarn can be wound with ease
  • Mounts to any working desk or flat surface with a hand turn screw
  • Creates center-pull yarn ball
  • Setup is easy and straightforward

Cons

  • Yarn sometimes wraps around the spool if you go too fast
Check Price on Amazon

Nancy’s Knit Knacks Heavy Duty Ball Winder

Heavy Duty Ball Winder by Nancy's Knit-Knacks

I was in touch with Pete Charles from The Oregon Woodworker, who told me the owner of Nancy’s Knit Knacks passed away. Unfortunately, at this stage, the business hasn’t found a new owner.

I hope someone might manufacture them again. If you find one second-hand, I recommend it.

I’ll let you know if it becomes available again. Fingers crossed. Sign up to my mailing list below so I can keep you updated.

Nancy’s is a sheer joy to wind, super sturdy and fast. It’s long-lasting enough to pass on to the next generation. It had the largest yarn capacity of up to 16oz, wind up to one pound at a time.

It always received excellent customer ratings.

Why Would You Want One?

Use It For Unwound Hanks

There’s nothing worse than a tangled mess when knitting!

A hank is a long, twisted form. Many hand-spun or hand-dyed yarns come in this shape. Fibers from craft stores/online are typically sold in skeins.

To make it easier to knit with, make them into center-pull balls or cakes.

These tools are a great way to inspect your yarn for knots or weak points.

Some yarn stores offer to wind them for you. It saves time, but don’t accept unless you’re using the yarn soon.

The longer you don’t use the yarn, it loses elasticity. A ball winder gives you freedom of when and where to wind.

What’s The Difference Between A Ball And A Cake?

Ball

  • Wound by hand
  • It’s wrapped around until a bigger ball forms
  • It’s impossible to pull from the center
  • Round

Cake

  • Wound using a winder
  • The string is wound around a cylindrical bobbin
  • It’s easy to pull the yarn tail from the center.
  • A squat cylinder with a flat top and bottom
Poster showing differences between a yarn ball, skeing, hank and cake
Different Ways Yarns Are Packaged

Uniform Tension

Many commercially wound yarns are loose. This is great for storing. But they don’t maintain consistent tension throughout a pattern project.

Use a winder to create an even tension.

Some yarns, like Lion Brand Mandala and Caron Cakes, have color changes. The beauty of rewinding is you can wind it into separate colors.

Yarn Winder and yarn cakes of different colors on a table
Wound yarn cakes by @Pulpo_and_Peach. Follow @Pulpo_and_Peach for more great pics.

What To Look For In A Yarn Winder

Sturdy Construction

Look for a one built to last. For ones with plastic, ensure they won’t break.

Pay attention to the protection of the gears. If the yarn slips underneath the gears, it gets caught. In sturdy models, the gears are better protected.

The table clamps should be sturdy without damaging the table’s surface in your craft room.

Easy Crank System

You want something for some serious cranking. While operating the crank, it should feel smooth and even while not pulling on the yarn.

The best yarn winder machine needs to feel sturdy and not like it’s going to break off!

Ease of Set-Up

For beginner knitters, you want something quick, easy, and simple.

Size of Cakes To Be Wound

Consider your regular purchases of yarn. Are they small hanks, up to 4 oz, or larger skein/hanks 10 oz and above?

  • If you wind smaller cakes, look for a winder handling up to 4 ounces.
  • For larger cakes, use 10oz winders.
  • Anything above, use heavy-duty winder models made of strong materials.

Using a Ball Winder and Swift

Here is a fabulous video tutorial by Stacey at Very Pink Knits. The swift holds the yarn while you wind it.

Use a yarn winder and swift with each other to save hassle and time.

It’s not essential to have a Yarn swift to use a ball winder. However, yarn swifts make winding easier. As knitters, we want to get to knitting!

It holds your hanks of yarn in place as you wind them. Watch the video to see it in action.

Get Smart About Your Knitting, Be Like Carol

Good friends Carol and Cynthia are both avid knitters. They’re similar in knitting speed and patterns they choose.

Every season, Carol manages to produce more knitted garments than Cynthia. Cynthia was always a little bit envious.

Cynthia, although a fast knitter, purchases gorgeous hanks of hand-dyed fiber. She winds balls by hand. This often involves getting her reluctant husband to hold the loops of yarn for her.

If he were unwilling, she’d try to use the back of one of their dining room chairs. Sure, she could watch TV while winding. But she took a long time!

In fact, Carol realized winding by hand was time-consuming and annoying. She had discovered the ease of using a yarn ball winder in her local yarn store.

It occurred to her having one at home was the go. Having researched ball winder reviews and her options, she chose a model for handling 10 ounces of fiber and a wooden umbrella design swift.

Carol was one happy woman. Her center-pull yarn cakes were a joy to work with and also to store. Her stash and scrap yarns were super organized.

Carol created gorgeous knits and adored the ease of winding with her winder.

One day Cynthia went over to Carol’s for a coffee and a chat. Carol’s ball winder and swift were on the dining table with some colorful hand-dyed yarn.

Cynthia asked for a demonstration and was amazed. So she bought a winder.

The perfect knitting gift. She couldn’t wait for it to arrive!

Yarn Winders Pin

Steps To Setting Up Your Yarn Ball Winder

Some of you choose to use a Yarn Swift to hold your skein or hank with your yarn ball winder. Some people are happy to use the back of a dining room chair to hold yarn or a patient family member!

  • Find a sturdy bench or table
  • Add a piece of cloth over the top for protection, so there is no damage to the surface
  • Leave some space for your yarn to sit
  • The best distance between your ball winder and yarn swift is 12-18″
  • Use the clamps at the base of each to secure them
  • Ensure the bolts are tightened.

Don’t Get In A Tangle! Placing the Yarn on the Swift

  • Unwind the hank or skein and remove the ties keeping the yarn together. If you’re using scissors, be careful. Don’t cut the yarn strands! Check for twists and ensure the yarn is a big circle loop.
  • Find the two ends. Ensure they’re free from the skein.
  • Most swifts look like an umbrella, hence the name umbrella swift.
  • You push up the knob at the bottom of the pole, and the arms spread out.
  • The arm-span needs your yarn loop to fit around the outside. Some adjustments are required, depending on the loop size.
  • Give the yarn end a gentle tug and see that the swift spins freely

Next steps – Connecting the Yarn to the Ball Winder

  • Find the end of the skein of yarn on the outside. This is the end you attach to your winder.
  • Slip the yarn end through the metal yarn guide arm and into the slit/notch at the top of the winder bobbin/spindle. This ensures an even flow. This end is where you access the working yarn from your cake.
Knit Picks Enamel Pins for crafters
GORGEOUS ENAMEL PINS AT KNIT PICKS

Creating Your Center Pull Yarn Cake – Happy Days!

  • To start, crank the handle, and the yarn ball winder spins the yarn into a cake. Wind yarn slowly at first.
  • Use your other hand to guide the yarn to control the tension.
  • Increase your speed a little more. Ensure the ball winder and the yarn through the metal yarn guide arm move freely.
  • You’ll have a yarn cake or yarn muffin, as some knitters call them, in no time!
  • A storage tip is to place the yarn label inside the center of the cake for easy identification.

Removing the Yarn Cake from the Winder

  • Use your pincher fingers on one hand to hold the thread in the slot at the top of the winder.
  • Use your other hand to slide the yarn muffin off the ball winder.
  • The end you have in your pincher fingers is the center pull end.
  • Unwind a couple of feet of yarn from the outside. Wrap around the middle a few times and tuck in the end. This won’t bother you until you get to the end of the yarn.
  • Tada! A beautiful cake is ready. Such a fun job!

Plenty of information on great yarn winders to make your life easier.

Of course, you’ll have your preference. Some super helpful knitting tools. Perfect for crochet pursuits too.

If you have any questions, please get in touch or leave your comments below.

Love Your Yarn Looking Neat & Tidy?
Get Yourself A Yarn Ball Winder
About Jodie Morgan

Hi. I’m Jodie Morgan, owner and 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!

21 thoughts on “Yarn Winder Buying Guide. Worth It? The 13 Best Yarn Ball Winders”

  1. Thank you for your reviews. Do you know of a winder that will twist two or more balls of yarn together to make a heavier weight?

    Reply
    • Hi Chris. Thanks for your question. I asked our readers for help on your question and this was the most helpful response from LadyCHE.

      “There’s really no need for knitters to wind together two strands of yarn into one ball. Just hold the two strands of yarn together as you knit. The very act of knitting twists adds twist.(Ask any knitter who frogs work done with two strands and now wishes to now separate the two yarns back into seperate balls- it can be frustrating.)

      However if you want to make a plied (i.e, add twist) yarn independent of you can use a drop spindle or spinning wheel (but of course you need to 1st learn the simple basics of spinning.) If you just want to simply wind a ball of two stranded yarns with out twist, you can just use an ordinary ball winder and hold the strands together as you feed it towards the winder. put the balls yarns into large deep bowl or box on floor, and hold strands in one feeding hand while turning crank with the other.”

      The yarn winders that can handle larger amounts of yarn would be your best bet. Cheers Jodie 🙂

      Reply
  2. Thanks for your thoughtful reviews! I have a Royal winder, and it makes tight, tidy yarn cakes just fine for me. But have you ever found a winder that makes the balls or skeins like you purchase at the store? I don’t like to store my yarn in cakes, and I’d love to have a machine for turning hard-to-store hanks into looser balls or skeins!

    Reply
    • Hi Julie. That’s a great question! From my research it seems that manufacturers of yarn, have special machines for creating the yarn balls or skeins, like those you see in a store. I’ve not come across a yarn winder that winds yarn like this. If I ever do, I will be sure to let you know 🙂

      Reply
        • Hi there Jenifer. How lovely to know how to handspin. Something I’d love to learn. How did you learn? Thanks for sharing how you create skeins. We’d love you to share your favorite umbrella swift and tell us a little bit more about your process 🙂 I just had a quick look at your lovely instagram pics, the trindle you used to spin silk is something new to me.

          Reply
      • Hello Jodi and Julie, If you look up “Niddy Noddy” it is a simple wooden tool that a lot of handspinners use to create skeins out of their handspun yarn, usually to set the twist. Mine is a 2 yard Niddy Noddy and so it makes skeins 2 yards long. It takes a bit of learning, but in the end it is very easy to use and the results are lovely.

        Reply
        • Hi Christine. Thanks so much for sharing your choice of Yarn Winder. Sounds like the Niddy Noddy is a great tool. Feel free to share a photo with our readers. Cheers Jodie

          Reply
  3. I have a Royal winder. It works well for me unless I have a small amount of yarn. When the hole is so large compared to the thickness of the cake, the center collapses. Does anyone make a winder with a smaller center hole?

    Reply
    • Hi Ernie. Great to know you find the Royal winder works well for you. Have you ever tried to place a cardboard cylinder over the bobbin first and then wound the yarn, when you only have a small amount? It could be worth a try. It seems that most yarn winders have similar diameters for the bobbin part. I will check with my readers and get back to you. Cheers Jodie 🙂

      Reply
  4. I live in an apartment and need a winder that does not need a clamp. My current one is from Royal but the clamp is damaging my table. Thank you

    Reply
    • Hi Helene. Thanks for getting in touch. Most of the Yarn Winders included in my post have table clamps. However one that is featured does not require a table clamp, the Maple Jumbo Yarn Winder. It is a beautiful winder and it would be a considerable investment. Have you tried any kind of padding to help protect your table? I know others have had success with folded layers of felt. Cheers Jodie 🙂

      Reply
        • Hi Helene. Thanks for getting back in touch. That’s no good that using a fabric placemat makes it unstable. Silicon non slip mat came to my mind. If I come across anything else that suits your needs, I will get back to you. Cheers Jodie

          Reply
  5. Hello Jodie,
    Thank you for your reviews. Do you have any knowledge about the Knitters Pride Signature Mega Wool Winder and Swift? I am interested in it but don’t have any details about it. The Knitters Pride website does not give much information. I sent them emails with my concerns but have not received any response. Any help you can provide me will be appreciated. Thank you!

    Reply
    • Hi Claudia. Thanks for getting in touch. I have only seen a review of these products by Very Pink Knits that was a few years ago. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8OiGrT9xl0g Staci highly recommends Knitters Pride Products overall. What are your concerns? I’ll then reach out to my readers to see if they can help. Cheers Jodie

      Reply
    • Hi Judi. Thanks for getting in touch. I’ve not said that winders don’t work with yarn purchased from Hobby Lobby or Michaels. Yarn winders can be used for all sorts of yarns. Most craft stores sell their commercial yarns in balls or skeins and these are often easier to knit with directly from the ball/skein. Some knitters will rewind these using a yarn winder to make a yarn cake which doesn’t roll around. Yarn that comes in hanks are perfect for winding on a yarn winder. It’s very difficult to knit directly from a hank. Cheers Jodie

      Reply
    • Hi Sue. Wow! That is an incredible amount of yardage. I don’t believe any of the yarn winders listed in my article would wind that length of yarn without cutting it. I will do some research and get back to you. Cheers Jodie

      Reply

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