Yarn hanks are a beautiful thing, but they are so much easier to use when you wind them up before knitting or crocheting – because you can actually use them!
You might not think that sitting back and winding a cake of yarn is what you want to do with your free time, but there are some great tools to help.
Using a yarn winder and swift is the easiest way to wind up a skein of yarn. These tools help to wind the yarn into a center-pull ball, which sits flat to make it easy to work with. Your ball of yarn will be ready to use with no knotting and will not roll around as you work with it!
However, not all yarn winders and swifts are made equal.
So which is the best yarn winder and swift? The best yarn winders and swifts should be able to spin easily and give out single streams of neat, untangled yarn. Swifts should be adjustable to the size of the yarn hank and winders should be easy to turn, sturdy, and large enough to accommodate the size of yarn ‘cake’ desired.
It might be slightly overwhelming choosing the best yarn winder and swift to use, some of them look out of this world! To help you make an informed decision, we have listed what you need to consider when choosing one, as well as 7 great options for you to choose from.
Yarn Winders And Swifts – Buyer’s Guide
No matter if you want something simple or something heavy-duty, there are certain considerations you need to take when choosing which yarn winder and swift would be best for you!
These factors should be kept in mind:
Types of Yarn Swifts
For yarn swifts, there are two main types.
1. Umbrella Style Yarn Swift: These are perfect for keeping your hanks in order while you try to wind them up. With a gentle tug of your yarn, these will spin easily too, matching the speed of your winding. An umbrella swift collapses and becomes small and has ribs that are pushed up to open – much like an umbrella!
This model uses screw-in clamps to grip a surface and store away easily. You can adjust the swift according to the largest hank size.
2. Tabletop Style Yarn Swift: Tabletop style yarn swifts are flat and low to the table surface and have fewer parts than an umbrella swift. They can either be stored whole or in parts. Tabletop style yarn swifts usually have pegs to help with sizing.
Like umbrella swifts, these are your friends for winding hanks. Tabletop styles are also known as “Amish” style yarn swifts.
There are also combinations of umbrella and tabletop swifts and swifts which look like the Amish or tabletop style but rotated on their side – making their motion vertical rather than horizontal.
These and other swifts all appear to operate on the same basic principles as the first two, though, so don’t be surprised if you see variations that look different.
If you’ve ever seen a yarn swift, chances are it was made of wood, probably birch or maple. However, as with anything these days, you can certainly find metal or plastic options, as well as swifts made with a combination of materials. With material though, it really seems to come down to a matter of taste.
The size of your swift can also be flexible when it comes to your yarn, as many of them are made to adjust to different hank sizes – especially umbrella swifts. Just be sure to check this is the case before you buy something you can’t use!
Otherwise, the only factor to consider when it comes to sizing is how much space you have available to use and store your swift.
For the most part, yarn winders work the same way. There’s a central column for the start of your new “cake” to attach to and warp around and a crank for turning it. As you turn the crank, the yarn automatically wraps around, slowly forming your cake.
With most winders you do have to pay some attention to how you wind. You’ll want to slightly adjust the yarn up and down as you “feed” it, so it makes a true cake and not a wad of yarn wrapped around. You’ll also need to control your own tension while doing it.
But once you get the hang of it, it is really quite simple. Plus, your new cakes will fit snugly into your yarn bowl, or your favorite basket, bag, or lap!
With yarn winders, there are only a few things to consider:
How it Operates: Most winders are manual, and many crafters prefer to crank the winder themselves, giving them more control. But if you like the idea of a little help, give electric a try.
Size: If you’re picky about how large or small you want your yarn cakes to turn out, pay attention to the size of the cake your winder can make.
It won’t affect how well your winder works, but if you’d rather wind up as much of a skein or hank as possible in a single cake, a larger size will help you minimize the number of cakes you make. Likewise, if you tend to prefer smaller cakes, you may as well get a smaller winder and save yourself the trouble.
Material: Material is also largely a matter of preference. The weight of the material may affect how sturdy your winder is, however, so it’s worth paying attention to.
The 7 Best Yarn Swifts And Winders
To help you choose the best yarn swift and winder for your projects, here are our top picks for you to consider!
|1.||Knit Picks Yarn Ball Winder||Yarn ball winder|
|2.||L2 Jumbo Yarn Ball Winder||Electric yarn winder|
|3.||Butuze Yarn Ball Winder||Cheap yarn winder|
|4.||Stanwood Needlecraft Yarn Winder||Winder for large skeins|
|5.||CuteDIY Yarn Swift||Umbrella style swift|
|6.||Craft Destiny Yarn Swift||Amish style swift|
|7.||Knit Picks Yarn Swift||Classic yarn swift|
We’ll go over each in more detail below, so be sure to keep reading.
Best Yarn Ball Winder: Knit Picks Yarn Ball Winder
The Knit Picks Yarn Ball Winder is one of the best yarn ball winders for you to use! It lets you transform yarn hanks and skeins into compact center-pull balls that sit still and even while you knit or crochet.
The winder is incredibly easy to use and can wind up 100 grams or 3.5 ounces of yarn, which can range from lace to bulky weight yarns.
A quick assembly, you can attach the winder to any surface or table edge which is 1 ½ inch thick, you just twist on the swindle and position the guide arm, and start winding!
The removable spindle makes storage easy, with the yarn guide arm folding down for compact storage. However, it is incredibly easy to set up and assemble the winder when you do need to use it.
With a strong clamp keeping the winder in place while you create a new ball of yarn which is easy to work with, this compact yarn ball winder is exactly what you need, and will make your projects that much simpler!
Best Electric Yarn Winder: L2 Jumbo Yarn Ball Winder
If you don’t want to bother with using a manual model when winding yarn, you could choose to invest in an electric one.
These take out the hard labor of having to keep track of the yarn length and rotation as you focus on spinning a new ball.
The new L2 Jumbo Yarn Ball Winder has an electric rotation counter and meter counter which takes the thinking out of yarn winding for you!
The latest features ensure that all of your yarn balls are created to the same size, and ensures consistency every time you use the machine.
With the electric rotation and meter counter, you can count how long your ball is each time you wind up the new yarn. It has an LCD screen that is large and clear and has a maximum counting speed of 1200 rotations a minute.
It is reliable and easy to use, and takes the counting and measuring out of winding for when you want a simple process, but for it to be accurate as well!
Best Cheap Yarn Winder: Butuze Yarn Ball Winder
Many of us don’t want to splurge on an expensive yarn winder, especially if it is something you are only going to use on occasion.
The Butuze Yarn Ball Winder is a wonderfully affordable option, and it comes with a whole lot of accessories to help with your knitting or crocheting as well.
The size of this yarn winder is 4.72 inches by 4.13 inches, so it is compact and easy to use. It is lightweight and can be assembled or packed away very easily. As it is hand-operated, it makes very little noise and causes no disturbance to those around you.
It is ideal to use to wind loose yarn into well-kept cakes, just by the crank of the handle, organizing your knitting and crocheting supplies easily. It saves you quite a bit of time as well – creating a well-kept ball in just a few minutes.
Other than the yarn winder which clamps onto a table, you are given a wide range of knitting and crocheting accessories, such as different size plastic needles and stitch counters.
There is so much that you will get for an affordable price, and the yarn winder can be taken on the go with you as well.
Best Yarn Winder For Large Skeins: Stanwood Needlecraft
The Stanwood Needlecraft Large Metal Yarn Winder is ideal for large skeins. It creates a center-pull yarn ball which makes knitting and crocheting sessions neat and convenient.
Being ultra-heavy-duty, the yarn winder is made from 3-millimeter thick steel with a rust-resistant powder coating that ensures the metal will stay in good condition and easy to use.
With reinforced nylon gears, the specific gears are designed to be flexible, but still durable. They are tough enough to handle high-speed winding but soft enough to keep the gear noise down to an absolute minimum.
The large winder has a 10-ounce capacity, handling more than 2 times what the average yarn winder does, which helps to reduce your workload down in half.
The winder can be set up with the very little hassle and clamped to a table or work surface which isn’t too thick. The hand crank is used to wind the yarn up, and it winds fast enough to give you a ball of yarn to use in just a few minutes.
3 Best Yarn Swifts
Okay, so now that we’ve gone over the best winders out there, you’re probably going to need a swift to go with it – at least if you’ve got any hanks lying around you’ve been too lazy to wind.
Let’s look at the best swifts out there to keep your process nice and simple.
Umbrella Style: CuteDIY Yarn Swift
This yarn swifter is made from thicker, sturdier metal parts that will help you wind up ball after ball of your favorite yarn. The dimensions measure 21’’ x 19’’ x 17’’, and it collapses easily to be stored conveniently.
It can be set up horizontally or vertically and is lighter than traditional wood swifts. You can mount it easily onto a table along with your preferred yarn ball winder. The table clamp is 1.75’’, so it needs to be held on a surface thinner than this.
The clamp holds down the swift and allows it to spin freely as you wind up skeins. The metal construction of the swift allows it to fold up more compactly, and it’s light and easy to work with. You can angle it in any direction you want, and set it vertically and horizontally.
It can be used with different yarn weights, from lace to bulky Aran, and works from all scads of skeins. You can even use the swift to unravel sweaters from thrift stores to create a second-hand ball of yarn, with very little effort needed! This will create awesome hanks for you to use.
Amish Style: Craft Destiny Yarn Swift
This Amish, or tabletop, swift, measures up to 60 inches, with 6 possible diameters to hold different size yarn hanks. It is made from beautiful beechwood and is handcrafted by artisans.
This swift has a very traditional appearance and is kept so simple, but so effective. It has been carefully sanded to give a soft finish that will care for your yarn, and not snag or cut it.
Incredibly easy to assemble, this model also comes with a handy carrying case that fits it all in. Once taken out of the bag, it takes you just a minute to set the swift up before you can get winding.
Being able to fold up compactly into the carry case, the swift is easy to store away, and it can be taken with you wherever you go.
Keeping to a traditional design, and using natural beech wood, this is a great swift for any yarn lover and makes for a wonderful gift as well. The swift comes with one extra peg and the storage bag for added convenience and ease of use, taking the hassle out of winding!
Classic Yarn Swift: Knit Picks Yarn Swift
The Knit Picks Yarn Swift is ideal for crafting. It holds your hanks or skeins of yarn as you wind them up into balls, making it a much easier process.
The swift folds down into a small size for compact and convenient storage, and when ready to use, it is easy to assemble. The simple clamp holds the swift in place on a table or surface which is 1 ½ inch thick. This umbrella-style swift opens up to fit most hanks.
To give you a traditional and natural feel, the swift is made from durable birch wood, which is gentle on yarn, and which looks beautiful and timeless as well.
With metal hardware add-ons, the swift has a durable build and elegant features and even has a plastic stopper to prevent scratches and any damage to your tabletop.
The swift will securely hold the yarn in place as you wind it up into a compact ball, and it will stay in place with a strong bottom clamp, and do no damage to your delicate yarn thanks to the birch wood which is natural and smooth!
Can You Use a Yarn Winder Without a Swift?
If you are winding up a center-pull skein into a ball, then you do not need to use a yarn swift. If you are winding a hank into a ball, it will be much easier to use a swift with the yarn winder.
Is a Yarn Winder Worth It?
If you crochet or knit often and find yourself needing to wind lots of yarn, then yes a yarn winder is worth it! Yarn pulls much more easily through the yarn winder so that you do not need to tug or pull your yarn and land up with a tight ball.
Is It Necessary to Roll a Skein or Hank of Yarn into a Ball?
It is necessary to roll a hank into a ball or cake of yarn, as the big loop would just become tangled and unusable as you knit or crochet, which can be incredibly frustrating! Once you remove the ties on a hank, you won’t be able to keep the loop neat for long at all.
Skeins, however, don’t have to be rolled into balls or cakes, though many prefer to do this anyway so there’s no risk of knots in the middle of your project.
Why is Yarn Not Sold in Balls?
Balls are not a practical shape for machines to roll, and are not very economical to make either. The winding machines are configured to roll yarn into skeins or hanks. Using a ball also prevents you from working with both ends of yarn, which you sometimes need to do.
Can You Knit Straight From a Skein?
Yes, you can knit straight from a skein. You will run the risk of the yarn tangling up and becoming knotted, but this doesn’t always happen. You can also knit straight from the skein if you need to use both ends of the yarn, which some patterns call for.
You’ll probably have better luck if you knit or crochet from the inner end of the skein – the one that sticks out on one side. It likely won’t knot until near the end and grabbing yarn will be faster.
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