Sick of messy yarn? Every knitter needs a yarn winder.
My Quick Recommendations
Note: The above links take you to further information, current prices, and customer reviews on Amazon, Knit Picks, and Etsy.
Why get one? Read my full reviews of the best yarn winders.
I reviewed and updated this post on January 8, 2022.
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.
- Hand-operated ones
- Beautiful wooden winders
- Electrical 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
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.
- 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
- Only creates smaller balls. You may have to cut a larger ball in two
Stanwood Needlecraft Large
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.)
- 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
- Takes time to master
- This will be restocked soon, it is worth the wait.
A good alternative is the U-nitt Metal Jumbo 10 oz further down.
What is the best place to get yarn? Let me show you.
Knit Picks Yarn Ball Winder
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.
- 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.
- 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
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
- 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
- Needs cleaning if you use it often
My guide has all you need to know about yarn for knitting socks.
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.
- The feature of simplicity
- Creates center-pull balls
- Free shipping in the US
- Affordable price
- Great budget product option
- Ships to the United Kingdom
- The seller gives you a great shopping experience
- 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.
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.
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!
- 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
- Instructions aren’t so easy to understand.
U-nitt Metal Jumbo 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.
- 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
- If you go too fast, you can’t control the tension
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.
- Excellent for winding hanks and leftover skeins into cakes of yarn
- Winds yarn without requiring cones or tubes
- Simple set-up
- Instructions are clear.
- The arm slips occasionally
- Doesn’t handle large amounts of fibers
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.
- Easy to set up the pieces
- Great for winding regular yarn
- Can wind larger amounts of yarn
- Withstands many winds
- Go slowly in the beginning until you get the hang of it
Simplicity Boye Electric
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
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.
- 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
- Yarn sometimes wraps around the spool if you go too fast
Nancy’s Knit Knacks Heavy Duty Ball Winder
I was in touch with Pete Charles from The Oregon Woodworker, who 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.
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.
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?
- Wound by hand
- It’s wrapped around until a bigger ball forms
- It’s impossible to pull from the center
- 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
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.
What To Look For In A Yarn Winder
Here are considerations to take into account during the decision process.
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!
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 the diameters and weights small hanks, up to 4 oz, or larger skein/hanks 10 oz and above?
Here is what experts recommend based on their experience.
- 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.
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.
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!
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. It super organized her yarn stash and scrap yarns.
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 choice for a knitting gift. She couldn’t wait for it to arrive!
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.
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,
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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