A yarn swift is a useful device that makes everything effortless when you are winding yarn from a hank or skein.
It serves to hold the skeins under pressure for you to easily wrap your yarn into cakes or balls if you’re using a winder.
However, there are various types of swifts available in the market; from wooden and plastic to nice metal swifts. And, choosing one that’s best suited for you might require a little bit of due diligence.
So, before you go to the local store or on Amazon to order any designs of swifts, let us make things easier for you by reviewing the best yarn swift you can access today!
In a Hurry…
Our top pick after 48hrs of research is the Stanwood Needlecraft Tabletop Amish Style Wooden Yarn Swift. This amazing tabletop yarn swift is the perfect compliment to any pair of knitting needles, and comes with all the features you could want in a swift. It offers smooth rotations and can be adjusted to accommodate hanks and skeins of different sizes. It’s also easy to assemble and take apart while its base is slip-resistant.
Check out the rest of our preferred choices for the best yarn swift in the table below:
Best Budget Option
Knit Picks Yarn Swift
Tebery Hand Operated
Best for Smoothness
What is a Swift for Yarn?
A yarn swift is an essential device for knitters or crocheters. They hold a hank or skein in place when you’re winding yarn into a ball or cake, preventing any tangles or knots. Swifts help to get you knitting faster.
Usually, yarns are sold as “non-balls” and come either as skeins or hanks. These refer to a yarn that has been loosely wound into a huge ring shape then twisted on itself. This is what you have to turn into a ball for easy knitting and that’s where a swift for yarn comes into play.
Swifts can be made out of wood, metal, or plastic and even though they come in a variety of designs, more on this to come, they all work in the same way. Yarn swifts spin round and round as the yarn streams off in a single, straight, and untangled strand.
What are the Different Types of Yarn Swift?
Yarn swifts come in all manner of shapes, sizes, and designs. Each of these has its advantages and disadvantages and would be suitable for different circumstances.
Generally, the following are the most common types of yarn swifts in use today:
Umbrella Yarn Swift
This is the most common type of swift you will come across. They can be made out of metal or wood and their design allows you to collapse them flat when you want to store them. However, when using an umbrella swift, you have to place the circle of the yarn onto the closed yarn swift then open it until it is holding up the circle of yarn.
The umbrella swift opens up in the same mechanism as an actual umbrella. There is a tightening screw below that you push upward along the middle spindle so that the swift’s ribs expand outwards and secure the open hank of yarn in position. The yarn is maintained in this position by turning the tightening screw.
Normally, the umbrella swift ribs will adjust to accommodate the size of the hank in question. The swift will be thinner when the skeins have a smaller circumference and wider when the skeins have a larger circumference.
Some umbrella swifts will have a flat base that rests on top of a table whereas others come with a clamp that can be screwed to the side of a table or bench for stability. A few are even tall enough to stand on the floor.
Amish or Tabletop Yarn Swift
This yarn swift is constructed using wood and features a pair of long pieces of wood that intersect in the middle to form four arms. On each of the arms is a sequence of holes into which you can insert pegs. The pegs determine the circumference of the yarn hank to be wound.
The different holes allow the pegs to be moved around in order to accommodate different circumferences of hanks. The whole swift spins around, enabling you to create cakes or balls of yarn.
The good thing about Amish swifts is that they are very user-friendly; if you have any slight background in woodworking, you can effortlessly work with them. Some Amish yarn swifts can be dismantled for storage, although some don’t allow this.
The problem comes when you can’t dismantle the swift. You will have to find some significant amount of storage space to keep the device, which can be a headache if you have a confined dwelling.
Vertical Yarn Swift
This is the third swift that we’ll be looking at. You can actually use your umbrella swift vertically, however, some swifts are specifically designed to hold the hank vertically.
A quick Google search on swifts will reveal to you that there many handmade vertical swifts with different designs on sale. Most of these tend to be used by yarn dyers. They buy their yarns in cones so that they can wind them into hanks later on.
A good example of such a yarn swift is Squirrel Cage.
A Combination of Umbrella/Tabletop Swift
This swift style has very few parts and works horizontally by sitting on a floor or table and makes use of diagonally placed wood for sizing. These models don’t adjust, although the diagonal positioning of the wooden dowels offers a decent range of sizing options.
Combination of Metal Wheel and Wood Base
This type works vertically, comes with a few parts, and sits on a floor or table. It utilizes metal supports for sizing and can either be stored in its usual shape or have some parts that can be disassembled. Overall, this swift has a small range of sizing adjustments.
Best Yarn Swift- Buying Guide
What Factors Should You Consider When Buying a Yarn Swift?
Whether you’re looking to buy an affordable umbrella swift to merely get the job done or invest in a premium quality swift that will last several of the coming generations, some fundamental issues need consideration if you're to end up with the best yarn swift:
The style of swift is among the first things you should consider. For domestic knitters, the two most common swift styles are umbrella swifts and Amish/tabletop swifts. These work best for all types of yarn weights. You may also opt for additional styles such as a vertical swift and a combination of umbrella swifts and Amish style swifts.
Traditionally constructed from durable hardwood trees such as maple and birch, most the swift manufacturers today use these same materials for Amish, as well as umbrella swift styles. Some brands also use plastic or metal to construct their products and this may include everything from the main body to the screws and clamps.
Different materials will have different levels of sturdiness, as well as durability. They also come at various budget levels and will ultimately affect the overall style of the yarn swift.
When choosing the best yarn swift, size has to be considered in two ways; the amount of space it’s going to take to store and use while spinning the yarn hanks, and the size of yarn hank to be wound into a cake.
Space to Use and Storage: Generally, an umbrella swift will take up the most space when being used. For horizontal designs with a right-to-left (or reverse) movement, furniture and walls may get in the way. Some of these swifts may expand to as much as 8.5feet in circumference which implies that you require around 1.5ft on either side of the middle shaft for the umbrella swift to spin uninterrupted.
The benefit of an umbrella swift is that it will save you the headache when it’s time for storage. Their collapsible design allows them to attain a compact size that will be very convenient storage.
However, if you decide to go with a swift design other than umbrella swifts; Amish or vertical, your storage options become more limited and you’ll need a good amount of space.
Size of the Hank: The size of swift you select should be guided by the size of yarn hank you plan to wind. Unfortunately, the yanks don’t come in the same size as each dyer or spinner and the manufacturer usually chooses the size of their products depending on the methods or tools they are using.
Another helpful thing you might want to pay attention to is the ease of installation of the whole fixture. This can affect how fun or unfun the whole experience is going to be and can be a headache for any newbie user. If you are using a wooden yarn swift, watch out for how smooth the finishing in the design is.
You want to make sure that the sanding is extra fine so that the yarn strands are not held as the swift spins. Furthermore, check whether the circumference of the swift can be adjusted to accommodate different sizes of yarn skeins.
Ultimately, you should always choose a size of yarn that offers you the most bang for the buck. For instance, if you are using a variety of hank sizes and yarn weights, go for a yarn swift that provides you with the most options in circumference. And if you are using smaller weight yarns with little variety in hank sizes, a swift with limited circumference expansion range might be the best choice for you!
Best Yarn Swift- Individual Reviews
Now that you have a good idea of how to find the best yarn swifts in a sea of choices, let us delve deeper into the quality and performance of the individual yarn swifts in our review:
1. Stanwood Needlecraft- Best Overall
This amazing Amish style yarn swift from Stanwood sits at the top of our table. Superior workmanship has resulted in a super sleek wooden finish that has been achieved strictly by fine sanding; no toxic varnish fume treatment on the wood.
This not only keeps you from getting snagged when you’re wrapping your yarn but also ensures that you’re not exposed to the irritating varnish fumes.
The Amish wooden yarn swift can easily be adjusted, enabling it to hold various sizes of skeins ranging from the smaller ones to the larger ones. You simply have to move the pegs and you’ll be able to fit in skeins measuring from 2.5ft to 6ft in circumference, which is very convenient when you working with different sizes of yarn.
At the base of the Amish swift are 4 non-slip pads that hold the device firmly on the table and keeps it from moving around. This way, you don’t have to worry about messing up your work.
The Stanwood Needlecraft Tabletop Wooden yarn swift measures 29 x 5 x 1.1 inches and only weighs 1.81pounds, so you won’t have a problem carrying it around. Its parts can also be conveniently taken apart for easy storage, although you might need a decent space for this.
One thing that may users agree about this yarn swift is that it spins extra smoothly, making your time spent winding yarn a fun and effortless experience. The only challenge comes when you have to find a place to sit; it has to be strategically chosen so that you don’t have to keep picking up the yarn swift and risking it coming apart.
Otherwise, this classic styled Amish wooden tabletop yarn swift is quite easily functional; no need for tools, clamps, or screws. You just need to interlock the arms, base and insert a central dowel. Then rearrange the pegs in the pre-drilled holes to accommodate the size of yarn in question.
2. Cutehill Umbrella- Best Budget Option
If you’re looking for an affordable tool to help you with your knitting work, this umbrella yarn swift from Cutehill is just the device for you. And despite its budget price tag, it still offers you the kind of service you would find in costlier yarn swift models.
The Cutehill Umbrella Swift Yarn Winder comes with solid build quality and has proven to be quite popular among knitters and similar enthusiasts.
The setup process is very straightforward and would be a walk in the park for even those who are just getting started.
People also love this swift for its versatility. Whether are winding yarns, laces, fiber, lines, or other types of strings, the swift will always come in very handy. Furthermore, it is durable than many yarn swift models available today; some of which will even cost you more.
This umbrella swift measures 17 by 19 by 21 inches. The height of the umbrella is about 1.69 inches, which means that the thickness of the table you’re using should be thinner than 1.69 inches.
You can find it in a metal or plastic design, and both types come with their benefits and disadvantages. Some people have pointed out to the fact that the metal loops on the metal designs catch the yarns at the end of the arm.
Furthermore, the clamp is not as smooth as you may want it to be, and tends to leave behind marks on the surface you place it on. On the other hand, the plastic make is lightweight and fragile, so caution has to be taken not to damage the swift when you’re handling it or during storage.
Other than that, the Cutehill Umbrella swift offers you a smooth rotational process that adds to the fun of knitters. You will be able to save valuable time during the winding of the yarns and the tension remains stable. You can also fold it into a small size so that it is easier to move around and even keep in storage.
The swift has a clamp-on base that enables you to firmly fix it to the edge of the chair, table, or bench you are working on to enhance stability. Finally. It can support a one-yard skein.
3. Stanwood Needlecraft- Runner Up
If you’re searching for a 100% wood umbrella swift that will give you the kind of sturdiness you won’t find in metal or plastic yarn swifts, this remarkable device from Stanwood will fit the bill. The umbrella swift clamps down firmly on your workbench or table and wobbles less when you’re spinning the yarn.
Just like its Amish style sibling we’ve talked about in the review above, the Stanwood Umbrella swift has a classic wooden design. It offers you smooth spins so that you don’t experience any hitches while winding yarn.
You get high-quality craftmanship from this umbrella swift and its high-grade construction ensures that it will last you a lifetime. Apart from that, you will also fall in love with its overall wooden style and aesthetics.
One little thing you might want to know is that the yarn swift’s clamp screw tends to crack at times, and the resulting instability affects the smoothness of the spins. Luckily, you can always get a replacement screw to remedy the situation. Watch out also for the rivets holding the arms together; they may also get loose sometimes.
The Stanwood umbrella yarn swift measures 23.5 by 3.2 by 3.2 inches while weighing just about 2 pounds. It can accommodate skeins that can go up to 6ft in circumference, although you can find bigger variants of the same model that will enable you to use larger-sized skeins.
Some past users have revealed that over a period of use, the rotating wood tends to produce a loud noise that can become irritating. To fix this, just use a tiny bit of beeswax or any solid wax you can find to quiet it.
The Stanwood umbrella yarn swift is relatively easy to assemble. It comes with no pegs, meaning collapsing its ribs happens effortlessly. This allows you easily find enough storage space whenever it’s not in use.
The clamp on the swift’s base will hold well on a table, chair, and benches, leaving you with a sturdy swift design that simplifies the whole experience.
4. Knit Picks- Most Stylish
This is perhaps the most stylish and most durable yarn swift model you will find in the market. It has a rugged construction to stand the test of time and its umbrella design will comfortably accommodate all sizes of hanks for your knitting pleasure.
The Knitpicks Yarn Swift features a strong birch wooden construction for longevity and this reinforced by metal hardware that has been incorporated into the design. The metal screws on its frame come with stoppers to ensure that your tabletop won’t be scratched when you clamp the swift on the edge.
Its smooth black satin look stands out in a crowd and is a nice touch of class that will bring some sophistication to your space. This yarn swift is versatile enough to support yarns with circumferences varying from 26 to 68 inches. The simple clamp can also hold the swift on surfaces that are up to 1 1/2 inches in thickness.
The Knitpicks Yarn swift is user-friendly and spins smoothly so that you save precious time when spinning your yarn. It measures 27 by 4 by 4 inches and weighs only 1.6 pounds, it can also conveniently fold down for easy storage. You can pair it with a yarn ball winder for the best results when you’re winding yarn.
Despite its highly ergonomic and durable design, this yarn swift can prove a challenge to move up and down. Its sleek look also requires regular maintenance using polish, wax, or anything relevant to keep it looking and functioning flawlessly.
Other than that, this triple-threat of a yarn swift offers the perfect balance between durability, functionality, as well as aesthetics. Find a nice spot in your living room for it and it will work wonders for your interior décor!
5. Tebery Hand Operated Ball Winder
This is another useful tool for your crocheting or knitting work. It has a great look with an ergonomic construction to go with an affordable price tag that you won’t flinch when buying.
This yarn hand-operated yarn swift features a combination of plastic and metal in its construction and this provides you with a lighter and more durable alternative to a wood swift. The swift measures 42cm high and 55cm in diameter when opened but can easily be collapsed when you want to store it.
You will have an easy time spinning yarn on this swift thanks to the smooth rotations that it offers. The experience is squeak-free and you’ll be able to wind a ball of yarn in the shortest time available.
The Tebery umbrella swift comes with a clamp-on base that will firmly attach to most surfaces of a table, chair, bench, or countertop. Its umbrella style allows you to hold hanks of different sizes, making it a versatile tool to have for your crocheting.
The swift is also quite user-friendly and doesn’t involve a complicated setup process. Simply clamp it to the table then squeeze the blue and metal handles to expand the umbrella to the required circumference of yarn hanks. The hanks are held securely in place so that you end up with a smooth flow of yarn during winding.
The only problem with this yarn swift design is that the tightening bolts may hurt your hand when you’re tightening or loosening the umbrella. It would help if the bolts came with a rubber covering to protect your fingers.
Clearly, there are numerous types of yarn swifts that you will come across in the market today. Depending on your preference, you might be inclined to choose a particular unit based on its design, size, capacity, and even price. This can be a very difficult decision when you have a sea of yarn swifts to choose from.
Luckily, our review should help you narrow down your choices to a number you can comfortably work with. Be sure to consider our picks for the best yarn swift current available the next time you go out shopping.
Have fun knitting!
Should you roll a skein of yarn into a ball?
You don’t necessarily have to roll a typical commercial center-pull skein into a ball. This is because the work of preventing the yarn from tangling has been done for you!
Rewinding from a loose hank of yarn is normally a two-person task whereby one person has both their hands through the loose oval of yarn whereas the other rewinds the yarn into a ball.
If you have to roll the yarn, it’s crucial not to pull or stretch the yarn; it should remain soft and relaxed.
However, you’ll find some people rewinding a commercial center-pull ball for fear that the yarn may tangle. Some also rewind the ball since it gives them a chance to test working with the yarn and check for any knots or tangles in the skein.
Having said that, the bottom line remains that there is no need for you to rewind a yarn into a ball if you’ve bought a regular commercial center-pull skein.
How do you use a yarn winder?
There are times when you go to the store and buy yarn when in its hank or skein form. The following steps should help you use your yarn winder to turn it into a ball:
1. Securely attach the ball winder to the edge of your counter, table, or bench; square edges are most preferable. To avoid damaging your counter, place a piece of linen between the ball winder and the counter.
2. Locate the end of your yarn; this is a tricky maneuver that may require you to be patient.
3. Attach the end of the yarn you’ve located to the notch in the ball winder. Note that every wool winder may be a little different from another, so you want to refer to the item’s directs manual to see how this is done.
4. Begin winding the yarn slowly around the ball winder. This should be done patiently at first before getting acquainted with how the yarn winds before you can increase your pace. Remember that different fibers react in different ways.
5. Continue winding the yarn around the winder while maintaining the direction. Be sure not to go too fast, lest you want to get the thread caught up in the gears (of some models) and mess up the whole process.
6. Once you have wound the whole thread of yarn, you’ll have to choose whether you want a center-pull or an outside-pull ball.
7. If you’re going for a center-pull, you want to hold the end of the yarn emanating from the middle with one hand as you gently ease off the ball. On the other hand, put your thumb at the top of the yarn emanating from the middle and let go of the ball to get an outer-pull ball.
In most cases, the ball winder is best used in conjunction with a swift, and this will require that you connect the two devices before you can start winding the ball. In this case, the swift secures the hank in place so that it is easier for you to spin the skein or hank into a center-pull yarn ball.
Before you can start winding, attach one end of the hank to the ball winder. Remember that at this point, you’ve already placed the yarn on the swift. Slip your yarn through the metal guide and into the notch of the plastic disk on top of your ball winder.
At this point, you are good to go!
How to Use a Yarn Swift
Before you can start using your swift, you first need to set it up. This is a relatively easy process; most designs of swift come with a mount that you can attach to the edge of the counter, bench, table, or chair you’re working on.
Some come with a clamp that you can also firmly secure to the edge of your table. To do this, simply place the swift at the edge and twist the metal screw until you feel the yarn swift is stable.
Now that your swift is firmly in place, use it to wind the yarn as explained by the following guidelines:
1. Unwrap the yarn hank, and if it comes with a label, remove it. At this point, the yarn should form a big circle; don’t be quick to untie it!
2. Put the circle of yarn around your yarn swift and hold it in place as you open up the swift (assuming you’re using umbrella swifts).
3. Push up on the center of the swift so that the hank of yarn is sufficiently stretched. If you leave it loose, the hank could easily fall off. However, be careful though not to stretch it too much!
4. Make sure that the swift is firmly held by screwing on the side. You should notice some small bits of yarn holding the hank of yarn together. Some hanks may have only one while others will have four or five; remove the small bits of yarn.
5. Everything gets easy from this point! Just grab one end of the yarn and start winding it either onto your finger or a yarn winder. As you pull the thread of yarn, the swift will be turning, ensure that the yarn is held in place all the while.
NOTE: Make sure that the end you are pulling from is on the outer side of the yarn swift for the best results. Pulling the end of the yarn that is laying in the inner side of the swift may end up interrupting the flow of the swift and make the pulling of the yarn quite a challenge.
6. Continue yarn winding until there is no more yarn remaining on the yarn swift.