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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. Why get one? Read my full reviews of the best yarn winders.

My Quick Recommendations

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

I reviewed and updated this post on August 10, 2022.

Yarn WInder Feat Img

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Having a Yarn Winder makes knitting much easier and saves time. It’s an excellent alternative to your tired hands, and the benefits are numerous. There are many options for yarn ball winders.

Crocheting and knitting technologies benefit knitters wanting to be efficient. This is the perfect chance to solve your messy yarn collection problem!

Table of Contents

Stanwood Needlecraft YBW Hand-Operated

Stanwood YBW-A Winder
Check Price on Amazon

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.

Winding from Amish (tabletop) or umbrella-style swifts? Buy one with this winder. I discuss it in my best Yarn Swift Review.

Pros

  • The table clamp has a range of 1 3/4″
  • Made of quality materials
  • Easy to crank
  • Easy to operate hand crank
  • Great value for money
  • Doesn’t take up much space
  • Has a high star rating with happy customers
  • Excellent for winding scrap yarn

Cons

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

What is the best place to get yarn? Let me show you

Knit Picks Yarn Ball Winder

Knit Picks Yarn Winder - If you have any questions, need tips or assistance, the friendly team will help you.

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

Pros

  • Cheap price
  • 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

  • Operating the hank crank isn’t as fast as some of the bigger models
  • Keep in mind this is smaller than the rest featured in this post

After winding pop your neat yarn cake into a knitting bowl.

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. 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 (the steel and wood ones)
  • These winders are designed for durability and years of use
  • Made in the US
  • Multiple reviews with five stars
  • Large spindle capacity
  • Hard maple and premium maple veneered plywood parts
  • One year guarantee
  • Suitable for almost everything
  • Transform yarn hanks into compact center-pull yarn balls
  • Place on a work 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

Stanwood Needlecraft Large

Stanwood Needlecraft Large Winder, 10-Ounce Check Price On Amazon

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. (Unfortunately, it’s not always available and is difficult to find.)

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

A good alternative is the U-nitt Metal Jumbo 10 oz further down.

My guide has all you need to know about yarn for knitting socks.

Hand-Turned Nostepinne

Cherry Nostepinne - It's just begging you to add it to your cart!

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
  • Free shipping in the US
  • Affordable price
  • Great budget product option
  • Portable
  • Ships to the United Kingdom
  • The seller gives you a great shopping experience

Cons

  • Only winds as fast as you can
  • Yarn shapes and content vary depending on how you wind
  • The number of cakes you can wind will be less
  • Take care as too much tension stretches the yarn

Looking for a cheaper version?

For a good example, try the Yarn Valet. It’s lightweight, comfortable, and has a compartment for storing stitch markers and notions.

YouTube video

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 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: The above links take you to further information, current prices, and customer reviews on Amazon and Etsy.

Find out more in my nifty knitting tools list.

Beisaqi Winder

Beisaqi Winder Check Price on Amazon

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 and keeps yarn in order!

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Center-pull cake
  • Great stability in the frame
  • Place on your working desk or bench.
  • This device makes minimal noise
  • Excellent for examining yarn for imperfections and tangles
  • Good for beginners to knitting
  • Should ship to your country for a reasonable price

Cons

  • Instructions aren’t so easy to understand.

U-nitt Metal Jumbo 10 oz

U-nitt Metal Jumbo Hand Operated 10 oz Check Price on Amazon

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
  • This item has a sturdy spindle
  • Any person can wind the yarn easily
  • One year manufacturers warranty
  • Winds large hanks with flat sides
  • Clamps to surfaces up to 2 1/8″ thick
  • Easy assembly for these items
  • Cast iron construction

Cons

  • Squeaks
  • If you go too fast, you can’t control the tension

Lacis II

Lacis Yarn Ball Winder II Weaving Yarn Check Price on Amazon

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

  • Excellent 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

Lacis Jumbo

Lacis  Jumbo Check Price on Amazon

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
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 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.

Windaze Yarn Ball Winder

WIndaze Yarn Ball Winder

Wind up to 7oz skeins of Yarn. Mount to a table edge/flat surface. Designed for durability and performance. If this winder is unavailable, I recommend the Stanwood Needlecraft 4oz winder.

Pros

  • 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
  • Winds yarns with ease
  • Setup is easy and straightforward

Cons

  • Yarn sometimes wraps around the spool if you go too fast

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. He told me the owner of Nancy’s Knit Knacks passed away. Unfortunately, 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. Sign up to my mailing list to keep updated.

Nancy’s is a sheer joy to wind, super sturdy and fast. It’s long-lasting enough for 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.

FAQ

Do You Need A Yarn Winder?

Let’s face it. Are you sick of using chair backs like this? Here are some reasons why you need to use one for winding your Yarn.

Don't Be Like Me!

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

Here are considerations during the decision process.

Sturdy Construction

Look for a one built to last. Ones made of hardwood (like birch wood, rosewood, or beech wood) and metal are good. 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!

Regia Yarns On Shelf

Ease of Set-Up

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

Size of Cakes To Be Wound

Yarn Skeins On Shelving

Consider your regular purchases of Yarn. Are the diameters and weights small hanks, up to 4 oz, or larger skein/hanks 10 oz and above? Here is what experts recommend.

  • 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 in conjunction with each other to save the hassle.

YouTube video

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!

The winder can hold your hanks of Yarn in place as you wind them. Watch to see it in action.

The important thing is to take your time when first starting out. This allows you to stop tangles from happening.

There is nothing more frustrating than your precious yarn getting into a big mess because you’ve gone too fast! Want a review of great ball winders and swifts? See my post.

Yarn Winders Pin

Steps To Setting Up Your Yarn Ball Winder

Here’s the answer to the often confusing process of getting ready to wind. Some of you choose to use a Yarn Swift to hold your yarn 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 or counter
  • 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.
Yarn Hanks

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.

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 muffin 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!

It might be not easy at first, but with practice, it gets easier.

Conclusion

Plenty of information on great yarn winders to make your life easier. Some super helpful knitting tools to suit your preference. A perfect choice for crochet pursuits too.

Have questions? Leave your comments below. (Your email address is never published.)

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Jodie Morgan From Knit Like Granny

About Jodie Morgan

Hi. I’m Jodie Morgan, creator of Knit Like Granny. I started this site to show 1,000,000 people the joys of knitting & highlight alternatives to fast fashion. Please say hello!

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About Jodie Morgan

Hi. I’m Jodie Morgan, creator of Knit Like Granny. I started this site to show 1,000,000 people the joys of knitting & highlight alternatives to fast fashion. Please say hello!

20 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. Manufacturers of yarn have special machines for creating the yarn balls or skeins you see in stores. I’ve never seen a yarn winder that winds yarn like this. When I do, I’ll let you know.

      Reply
        • Hi there Jenifer. Thanks for sharing how you create skeins. I looked at your lovely Instagram pics, the trindle you used to spin silk is something new to me. Cheers Jodie

          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
  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. If you only have a small amount of yarn, have you tried wrapping it around a cardboard cylinder first? The bobbin part of most yarn winders has a similar diameter. 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. I have tried a fabric placemat. Unfortunately, the clamp tends to slip making the winder unstable. Thank you

    Reply
    • Hi Helene. Most Yarn Winders in my post have table clamps. One with none is the Maple Jumbo Yarn Winder. It’s beautiful and is a considerable investment. That’s no good! Why not try a silicon nonslip mat? If I find anything else, I’ll let you know. 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. I’ve only seen a review of these products by Very Pink Knits. Staci highly recommends Knitters Pride products. What are your concerns? I’ll ask my readers if they can help. Cheers Jodie

      Reply
    • Hi Judi. Yarn winders can be used for all sorts of yarns. Most craft stores sell yarns in balls or skeins and are often easier to knit with directly from the ball/skein. Some knitters rewind these using a yarn winder to make a yarn cake that doesn’t roll around. Cheers Jodie

      Reply
    • Hi Sue. Wow! That’s a lot of yardage. None of the yarn winders listed in my article wind that length without cutting it. Let me do some research. Cheers Jodie

      Reply
  6. Hi, I see you made a comment about Nancy’s Knit Knacks Heavy Duty Ball Winder. I purchased the wood and patterns from an auction of Nancy’s equipment. I am in the process of inventorying the parts to see how many items from her list of equipment that I can put together. I think I can hopefully make about 100 Nancy’s Knit Knacks Heavy Duty Ball Winder. I also have extra gears and parts for people who may need replacements I am either going to see if anyone wants to buy some at a discount to sell in their shop or I may post on Etsy or Ebay. I can put together a lot of other Items from her web site if anyone is interested. If you are interested or know anyone that is, feel free to email me. It seems like these were well liked items and when mine are gone that will be the last of her items.

    Reply
    • Great news Anna
      Thanks for letting me know.
      When you have some listed on etsy please let me know as I am sure people would love a source of spare parts/replacements.
      Cheers Jodie

      Reply

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