Our Recommendations For Those In A Hurry
The Best For Most People – Stanwood Needlecraft 10oz Yarn Ball Winder This Stanwood is a solid choice, great value, reliable, and suitable for most projects.
What The Yarn Stores Use – Nancy's Knit Knacks Heavy Duty Ball Winder Nancy’s is a sheer joy to wind, super sturdy, fast, durable, tough, and long-lasting enough to pass onto the next generation, the only yarn winder you will ever buy.
Note: Clicking the above links will take you to further information, current prices, and customer reviews on Amazon.
For those wanting more, keep reading our full reviews of all the best yarn ball winders currently available.
AT A GLANCE: The 13 Contenders For The Best Yarn Winder Available So Far In 2020
- Best 4 ounce – Stanwood Needlecraft Hand-Operated 4 oz
- Best 10 ounce – Stanwood Needlecraft Large 10 oz
- Best Heavy Duty Use 16 ounce – Nancy's Knit Knacks Heavy Duty
- Best Budget Pick – Knit Picks Yarn Ball Winder
- Best Nostepinne Winder – Knitter's Pride Nostepinne
- Best Jumbo Winder U-nitt Metal Jumbo Hand Operated 10 oz
- Best Powered Winder – Simplicity Boye Electric
- Best Wood Jumbo Winder – Wood Jumbo
- Darice Yarn Winder
- Beisaqi Hand Operated
- Lacis Jumbo Yarn Winder
- Lacis II
- Windaze Yarn Ball Winder
Note: Clicking the above links will take you to further information, current prices, and customer reviews on Amazon, Knit Picks and Etsy.
Knitting Tool Joy!
Having a Yarn Winder makes knitting so much easier and help save time.
Every knitter is keen to get to the actual knitting.
Your stash at home will have never looked so tidy! Winding yarn into colorful yarn cakes that are 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.
Knitting technologies benefit knitters who are wanting to be more efficient and faster.
I’ve researched what’s out there and made some recommendations. After all this investigation, we concluded: Every knitter needs one of these.
I’ve read suggestions from top bloggers and sifted through 5-star reviews.
Here is a list of the best Yarn Winders I’ve found based on many hours of research.
Table of Contents
- Which Ball Winder Should You Buy?
- Best 4 ounce – Stanwood Needlecraft Hand-Operated 4 oz
- Best 10 ounce – Stanwood Needlecraft 10oz
- How to Set Up and Use a Yarn Ball Winder
- Best Budget Pick – Knit Picks Yarn Winder
- Best Heavy Duty Use 16 ounce – Heavy Duty Ball Winder by Nancy’s Knit-Knack
- Best Nostepinne Winder – Knitter’s Pride Nostepinne
- How To Use A Nostepinne
- Best Maple Wood Design – Maple Jumbo Ball Winder
- Darice Ball Winder
- Best Jumbo Winder – U-nitt Metal Jumbo 10 oz
- Beisaqi Winder
- Lacis II
- Best Powered Winder – Simplicity Boye Electric Ball Winder
- Lacis Jumbo Yarn Winder
- Windaze Yarn Ball Winder
- Why Would You Want One?
- What To Look For?
- Using a Yarn Ball Winder and Swift
- Buying Checklist
Which One Should I Buy?
There are many choices on the market. We’ve listed some of the most popular with the a list of pros and cons of each.
Stanwood Needlecraft YBW Hand-Operated – Best 4 Ounce
This user friendly, hand operated winder makes center-pull yarn cakes from 4 oz. balls. Knitters can say goodbye to a tangled mess of yarn. Clamps to a variety of furniture. It is made of strong materials and is easy to crank. A one person operation.
If winding from swifts, it’s recommended to purchase one with this winder. This is the product I talk about in my best Yarn Swift Review.
- Makes small 4.oz. center-pull balls, ensuring you’ll 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 a chair.
- Made of quality, strong materials.
- Easy to crank, made with sturdy metal. Operation makes smooth, easy to wind balls.
- Easy to order and purchase online.
- Great value for money.
- Doesn’t take up too much space.
- It can only create smaller balls, not a big issue.
- This means you may have to cut a larger ball into two pieces.
Stanwood Needlecraft Large, 10-Ounce – Best 10 Ounce
This larger version makes large 10 oz. balls. No need to cut large balls in half. It’s easy to use, sturdy and made of heavy-duty materials. Easy to put together and stores away nicely.
One of the more popular products on the market. Stanwood is a recognized manufacturer in the knitting accessories market with a reputation for high-quality.
Works with yarn from lace and fingering weights to worsted and bulky weights. Can handle cotton, wool, acrylic and luxury yarns, like silk, cashmere and merino.
A perfect choice for those times you want to wind a lot.
- With this winder, there is no need to cut 8 oz. balls in half.
- Sturdy metal construction apart from the cogwheels, made from a durable nylon material.
- Designed for heavy-duty use, this ‘jumbo’ model has electrostatic paint so it won’t chip or wear off.
- Requires little assembly, straightforward to use.
- With proper care, it will last many years.
- Quiet and doesn’t rattle or make any more noise than the smaller model, due to it’s smooth and even crank.
- Rubber feet at the base of the metal frame helps it to remain stable while also protecting the surface of your table from scratches.
- There is a metal table clamp, which can be affixed to most tables and other flat surfaces, anywhere in your home.
- With little effort it makes nice, easy to stack and store yarn “cakes” with a hole in the middle where the yarn pulls from the center.
- Overall, an excellent product choice for those who want something with strength and are going to be doing lots of winding.
- Good value for money as it is built to last.
- Takes some time to master but after a winding for a while, it becomes much easier
There is no moving parts in this simple wooden stick design. All the winding effort is done by hand. The shapes and lengths of Nostepinnes vary. Generally they have a carved handle and then the yarn spindle is tapered towards the top.
This tool suits someone on a budget as it is relatively inexpensive. It does take a little time to master and some patience. Once you get into a groove it will not take long at all.
Great to pop in your project bag as it is lightweight, portable and doesn’t take up much space.
How to use a Nostepinne
- Using a half hitch knot tie the end of the yarn towards the top end of the spindle. Some have grooves where you can begin wrapping the yarn.
- Then bring the yarn down from the top and wrap a number of times to somewhere closer to the center of the Nostepinne, say 10 times around the middle.
- For a small ball of yarn you could start more towards the tip.
- You want to take care not to wrap too tightly, as this means you are stretching the yarn under tension. When you go to knit your hand wound yarn, it will become relaxed after washing and your garment may shrink.
- Bring the yarn in a diagonal motion from below to above, all the while slowly turning the Nostepinne towards yourself.
- Where you lay the strands will determine the shape of yarn cake. A flat top and bottom is created with laying down the strands from corner to corner of the yarn that is already there.
- A more egg shape is created by touching the wood at the top and the bottom as you wind on the diagonal.
Knitter’s Pride Nostepinne – Best Nostepinne
Made of wood with a varnished finish. The carved handle is comfortable to hold. There is a groove at the top to tie on the yarn to start winding.
- Creates center pull balls
- Great budget option
- Can only wind as fast as you are able
- Using too much tension as you wind will stretch the yarn
Knit Picks Yarn Ball Winder – Best Budget Pick
Many people love this product for its ease of use. Makes 3.5 oz balls, perfect for lightweight thread.
This winder pivots. If you suffer from pain in your hands and wrists, this style will be more comfortable to use to wind yarn.
- This is a cheap and cheerful model. It makes small 3.5 oz size pull thread yarn balls, so it’s great for small projects or lightweight yarn.
- .If you particularly like to keep your knitting accessories on hand whenever you are on the go, this style being small and lightweight should suit you.
- Clamps easily to tables without scratching the surface.
- Although it has mostly plastic components, it can stand up to many “winds.” The yarn guide is made of metal.
- It has directional arrows on the crank to show you which direction to go in and a three-step setup, so it’s perfect for beginners to wind yarn.
- Small, it stores away easily in its box. Directions are written on the carton. It’s user-friendly.
- Is a good choice if you have a tight budget but are still looking for something that does the job.
- It pivots too. 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.
Nancy’s Knit Knacks Heavy Duty Ball Winder – Best Heavy Use 16 Ounce
This winder is Heavy Duty and can wind up to one pound of yarn (16 oz) at a time. Simple to use and does not require much assembly. Made of strong and lasting materials with an ergonomic design.
The wood is quality maple. It looks beautiful set up on a table. Manufactured in the United States with Swiss-made gears. (The Swiss know their gears.)
The spindle capacity is perfect for a person who’s in the market for a bigger and more durable ball winder. A tool that will wind all those big hanks.
A considerable investment but worth it. Excellent value for how long it will last you, it’s a work horse. Think of all the projects you will make.
- The Heavy Duty Ball Winder by Nancy’s Knit-Knacks can wind up to 1 lb. at a time.
- Comes fully assembled 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.
- Smooth operation and makes very little noise.
- Can be adjusted in several ways so you can change 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 flexible options for tension and yarn ball size.
- Requires little assembly, so it’s straightforward to use.
- It’s made in the USA of maple wood and has Swiss gears.
- It has a one-year warranty and an option of adding an electric motor.
- It has excellent customer ratings and reviews
- There is a small chance of experiencing yarn becoming tangled and overspun.
Note: Some users have found they can wind on to cardboard cones using this winder.Click to Learn More / Buy from Amazon
Darice Loops And Threads
Hand-operated with a table clamp. The yarn guide is located at the bottom of the unit. Simple to use and creates center pull cakes. Small and portable and this yarn winder comes already assembled. The only thing to do is secure it to a table with the clamp.
It can hold up to 4 oz of yarn capacity. This kind of winder will not wind a larger skein of yarn into one cake. Larger ones will need to be split up. A good tip is after the initial few winds, go faster rather than slower and be sure to be adding tension with your fingers. This prevents snags, tangles or bunching of the yarn.
- Handle is easy to turn.
- Creates center pull thread yarn balls
- Great for smaller amounts of yarn
- Comes already assembled, need to use the included clamp to place on a table
- It’s small size makes storage easy
- The Yarn can sometimes get wrapped around the spool if you go too slow.
U-nitt Metal Jumbo Hand Operated 10 oz – Best Jumbo Winder
- This ball winder is easy to assemble and clamps easily to a table.
- Cogwheels operate smoothly for dozens of winds.
- The gears are all-metal and built to last. Holds plenty of yarn. Winds up to 10 oz of different types of yarn.
- There are two metal swing arms, both are threaded with the yarn. One that goes around the bobbin and the other keeps the tension.
- It does make a squeaking noise as you wind. The joy of having tight and neat cakes is worth for the most part, putting up with a little noise.
- Cast iron construction and all metal gears
- 2 metal swing arms
- Can handle winding a ball of up to 10 oz in no time!
- This style can be clamped onto a table up to 2 1/8″ thick.
- Easy tool-less assembly to put the frame together
- One year manufacturer warranty on these products
- If you go too fast, you aren’t able to control the tension. The yarn will wrap around the spool above the ball you’re winding. This can be an issue.
Dr. Kelly from Ewe University Knitting Podcast reviews six different styles of yarn winders. Her reviews are 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 Winders review section, head to 11.08 in the video feed. In her video, she reviews the following:
Note: Clicking the above links will take you to further information, current prices, and customer reviews on Amazon and Etsy.
Beisaqi Winder Hand Operated
Easy to install, portable, and light-weight, ease of storage. Good for smaller ball sizes of yarn.
A tip to ensure yarn doesn’t get tangled. Keep tension on the yarn with your fingers and guide it as winds the yarn balls. The thing is, it is a lot simpler.
- Lightweight, no problem to place on top of your working desk or bench.
- Minimal noise when working, convenient, and portable.
- Good for beginners to knitting
- Instructions could be improved to be easier to understand.
“Properly practiced, knitting soothes the troubled spirit, and it doesn’t hurt the untroubled spirit either.” ~ Elizabeth Zimmermann
Can wind up to 4 oz of yarn. Great for winding leftover yarn into neat and tidy yarn cakes. Instructions are clear to understand. Light and portable yarn winder.
- Great for winding hanks and leftover skeins into perfect cakes of yarn.
- Winds yarn without requiring any cones or tubes.
- The set-up is simple. Instructions are easy to follow.
- The arm does slip once in a while, which is not a big problem.
- This product is not able to handle large amounts of fibers.
Simplicity Boye Electric – Best Powered Winder
This is an Electric Yarn Winder using 120v a/c power. It does the winding by itself. No need to get involved physically. For those who have wrist problems this winder would be a good choice. Follow the easy to understand manual and watch your yarn get wound into neat and tidy cakes.
- Wind skeins or hanks of yarn into neat yarn balls in seconds; saves your wrists and time.
- No set-up required; easy to use; instructional video available.
- Uses 120v a/c power, batteries not necessary.
- The manual is easy to understand.
- The yarn feeder helps to keep yarn getting tangled.
- Not a powerful motor.
- Needs to be near a power outlet
Able to wind 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 can handle bulky weight yarns to lace-weight yarns easily. You will need to experiment with your tension using different types of yarn to ensure no difficulty.
Some people will need a tighter tension and others a looser tension.
The parts are easily put together. A screwdriver with a magnetic tip is included. Handy for putting in the screws.
- Easy to set up
- Great for winding regular yarn
- Can wind larger amounts of yarn
- durable and able to withstand dozens of winds
- Need to go slowly using it in the beginning
Windaze Yarn Ball Winder
Simply easy turn handle allows you to wind up to 7oz skeins of yarn.
Can be mounted to any working desk edge or flat surface. Designed for durability and performance.
- The Easy turn handle design allows for winding yarn balls and less strain on your wrists.
- 7oz of yarn can be wound with ease.
- Mounts to any working desk or flat surface with a hand turn screw.
- Creates center pull yarn balls.
- Setup is easy and straightforward.
- Yarn can sometimes get wrapped around the spool if you go to fast.
Maple Jumbo Winder – Best Wood Design
Are you looking for an easier way to wind your yarn? This beautifully crafted and designed knitting tool is a quiet achiever.
It spins effortlessly and quietly in use. In addition this style is easy to assemble and it can be used on the top of your workspace or clamped to a table.
It’s portable and simple to use. The overall style is quite charming.
Approximately 1 pound of fingering weight yarn and around ten ounces of worsted weight yarn can be wound. (Note: the two measurements can’t be winded at the same time.)
For thicker yarns, the amount will be less. The parts on these winders are replaceable.
- The Easy turn handle design allows for winding of large yarn balls and less strain on your wrists.
- These winders are designed for durability and years of use.
- Made in the USA.
- Hard maple and premium maple veneered plywood
- Parts are replaceable and include a one year guarantee.
- Creates center pull yarn balls.
- Can be either placed on top of a surface or clamped.
- Simple to follow instructions.
- It needs to be cleaned if you use it often. However, it’s easy to disassemble and put back together.
Why would you want one?
Use it for Unwound Hanks
There is nothing worse than a horrible tangled mess when knitting directly from a skein or hank. A hank comes in a long, loosely twisted form. Many beautiful, expensive, hand-spun, or hand-dyed yarns come in this shape. Fibers purchased from craft stores/online is typically sold in skeins.
To make it easier to knit with, you need to make them into center-pull balls or cakes. This is what a yarn winder does.
The best bit is you can make center-pull yarn cakes, so you don’t have your ball rolling all over the place as you use it.
When you buy skeins or hanks, good yarn stores offer to wind it for you. It saves lots of time, but don’t accept unless you’re using the yarn soon.
The longer you don’t use the yarn, it loses elasticity. Having a ball winder gives you freedom of when and where to wind.
What’s the difference between a ball and a cake?
A ball is round and usually wound by hand. A cake is wound using a winder, has a squat cylindrical shape with a flat top and bottom.
The ball has a small amount of yarn wound into a tight sphere. It is continually wrapped around until a bigger ball is formed. It’s impossible to pull from the center of a hand-wound ball.
A cake is wound using a winder. The string is wound around a cylindrical bobbin, creating the shape. When it is wound, it looks like a cake with a flat top and bottom, hence the name. It’s easy to pull from the center. You can also pull the working thread from the outside.
If you have a ball winder, winding yarns into cakes is a breeze. A cake has two flat sides, it won’t roll. The tail is left in the middle of the yarn cake.
It’s effortless to pull it out from the center, without scrambling for the end inside the yarn ball and almost inevitable knot jumping out instead. Perfect for placing inside a yarn bowl.
Many commercially wound yarns are loose. This is great for storing, they can squish down, but a wound ball or hank will help with maintaining consistent tension throughout a pattern project.
Using a winder helps with examining the yarn for knots, imperfections, color changes, issues with the yarn before you start knitting.
Checking yarn for thin or weak points and knots will help determine where in the project each skein, hank, or ball of yarn should go.
Tensioning the yarn while you wind also helps prevent tangles from being hidden inside the cake.
Some yarns such as Lion Brand Mandala and Caron Cakes have color changes appearing throughout. Great for when you aren’t fussy about when the color change appears in your knitting project. The beauty of rewinding is you can see the color change and wind it into separate colors if you want more control.
What to Look for in a Yarn Winder
Look for a one built to last. For those that have plastic bits, make sure they’re not going to break right away.
Check the protection of the gears. If the yarn slips underneath the gears, it will get caught fast. In sturdy models, the gears are better protected.
The table clamps should also be sturdy and have a good grip, without damaging the surface of the table in your craft room.
Easy Crank System:
You want something for some serious cranking. While operating the crank, it should feel smooth and have an even tension while not pulling on the yarn. The best yarn winder machine needs to feel sturdy and not like it is going to break off!
Ease of Set-Up:
For beginner knitters, you want something quick, easy, and simple. All helping to improve your knitting experience.
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 regularly wind smaller cakes, look for a winder handling up to 4 ounces. Larger cakes will be wound on winders handling up to 10oz. Anything above 10 oz would need to be wound on heavy-duty winder models.
Using a Ball Winder and Swift
Here is a fabulous video tutorial by Stacey at Very Pink Knits on
It’s not essential to have a Yarn swift to use a ball winder. Though it does make winding easier.
As knitters, we all want to get to the good part, the actual knitting!
It holds your hanks of yarn in place as you wind them.
Watch the video to see it in action and read our Yarn Swift Reviews and Buyer’s Guide.
Get Smart About Your Knitting, Be Like Carol
Good friends Carol and Cynthia are both avid knitters. They’re similar in their knitting speed, gauge, tension, and patterns difficulty 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 her favorite T.V shows while winding. But she took a long time!
Carol realized early in her knitting days, winding by hand was time-consuming and a tad 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, she opted for a sturdy one able to handle 10 ounces of fiber and a wooden umbrella design swift.
Carol was one happy woman. Her beautifully formed, 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 every season and adored the ease of winding with her winder.
One day Cynthia went over to Carol’s for a coffee and a chat. On the dining room table was Carol’s ball winder and swift set up with a hank of colorful hand-dyed yarn.
Cynthia asked for a quick winding demonstration and was amazed. Now she knew why Carol produced more knitted items. Later that afternoon, Cynthia jumped on her computer and bought a winder. The perfect knitting gift for herself. She couldn’t wait for them to arrive!
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 quite happy to use the back of a dining room chair to hold yarn or a loving and patient member of the family!
Find a sturdy bench or table to get set up. If the table is going to be marked with the clamps, add a piece of cloth over the top for protection. Be sure to leave some space for your yarn to sit.
Experts report the best distance to place between your ball 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.
Don’t Get In A Tangle! Placing the Yarn on the Swift
- Gently unwind the hank or skein and remove the ties keeping the yarn together. If you’re using scissors to do this, be careful. You need to watch you’re not cutting into the yarn. Check for twists and make sure the yarn is in a nice big loop.
- Find the two ends. Make sure they are free from the skein.
- Most swifts look like an umbrella, hence the common name for these knitting devices (umbrella swift).
- You push up the knob at the bottom of the pole and the arms will spread out.
- The arm-span needs your yarn loop to fit snuggly around the outside. Some adjustments 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 on the outside. This will be the end you attach to your winder.
- Slip the yarn end through the metal yarn guide arm and into the slit at the top of the winder bobbin/spindle. This ensures an even flow. This end will be where you access the working yarn from your cake.
Creating Your Center Pull Yarn Cake – Happy Days!
- In order to start, slowly crank the handle, and the yarn ball winder will spin the yarn into a cake. Wind yarn slowly to begin with.
- Use your other hand to gently guide the yarn. This ensures you can control the tension.
- Increase your speed a little more, making sure the ball winder and the yarn moving through the metal yarn guide arm, are moving freely.
- You’ll have a yarn cake or yarn muffin as some knitters call them, in no time!
- A tip for storage is to place the label of the yarn 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 gently.
- The end you have in your pincher fingers will be 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 neat product is now ready.
Happy knitting people 🙂
So there you go. Are you ready to make things easier for yourself?
Here is a quick checklist to consider when buying a ball 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
So there you go, plenty of information on great yarn winders to help make your life easier. Of course you will have your own personal preference.
We know you will find something to add to your collection of super helpful knitting tools. Perfect for crochet pursuits too.
I’d like to hear what you have to say. What did you think about today’s guide and advice?
Something we forgot? What brands do you love? Let me know what knitting tools you use.
Or maybe you have a question. Either way, let me know by leaving a comment below right now on my website (your email address won’t be published) or send me a message on twitter.
You can also contact me here.
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