Winding yarn by hand is not just time-consuming but also a little annoying…it’s almost like watching paint dry! Don’t you agree?
If you’ve ever tried knitting before, I’m sure this is probably one of the reasons you quit! However, if you are still hanging in there, you have a good reason to continue with this interesting pastime.
Yarn winders makes everything so much easier and fast for knitters and enhances the whole experience. This important tool comes in handy when you want to wind skeins into a cake.
But given the numerous models of yarn winders in the market, finding an item that works for you can be an eternal search. In this review, we consider the best winder to boost your knitting experience!
In a Hurry…
Our best overall pick after a 72hrs of research and gathering user reviews is the Stanwood Needlecraft Large Metal Yarn/Fiber/Wool/String Ball Winder. This high-capacity yarn winder can handle up to 10 ounces of yarn and has the build quality to last numerous wind cycles.
It requires very little setup and although it will cost you a fair bit, you get the best value for your money, especially on heavy-duty projects that require no-nonsense winders!
Check the table below for the rest of our picks on the best yarn winder Top 4 list:
Stanwood Needlecraft Ball Winder
Best in test, great option if you have the budget
Lacis Ball Winder- Runner Up
Budget Pick with a few issues
Marrywindix Bobbin Winder- Budget Option
Simple to use and fine qualite
Yarn Valet- Most User-friendly Design
Poor Quality, not recommended!
What is a Yarn Winder?
A yarn winder is an essential knitting device that enables you to create neat center pull cakes from skeins. It is a convenient alternative when you can’t wind yarn by hand; what will take you hours to accomplish by hand can be achieved in a matter of minutes when you’re using a yarn winder.
Unlike popular belief, they aren’t that expensive!
What is the purpose of a yarn winder?
There is nothing more frustrating than a tangled mess when you’re knitting directly from a hank or skein. The process is no walk in the park and will take you longer than is required. So, to help out with the situation, people turn to a yarn winder!
You see, skeins come in a long and loosely twisted form that is not appropriate for knitting. Many of the beautiful and expensive hand-dyed or hand-spun yarns you buy in stores and online come in this very shape.
A yarn winder helps to straighten the skeins and hanks by winding them into neat balls and cakes that would be perfect for knitters. The best part is that it transforms them into center-pull balls so that you don’t have to keep rolling your cake all over the place when you finally start crocheting.
This is why these are a must-have tool for knitters who want to enjoy an efficient experience!
Best Yarn Winder - Buying Guide
What Features Should You Look for in a Yarn Winder?
There is a countless number of yarn winder brands in the market competing to attract your patronage for their products. And this has led to all manner of yarn winder models and sizes that you can purchase to enhance your knitting experience.
Generally, the following features should be taken into account when you are selecting a ball winder to buy:
Among the first features to prioritize is the maximum weight of yarn that the yarn winder can hold. Low-end models will normally hold between 3.4 and 4 ounces of yarn while the premium brands can accommodate as much weight as 16oz, if not more.
If you’re an avid knitter looking to do some serious work, then you should think about acquiring a winder with a capacity of around 10oz of yarn weight. However, if you are just a medium or light-duty user, a winder that can handle 7oz or 4oz of yarn should suffice.
Ultimately, ensure that the winder design you settle for can comfortably handle the weight of yarn that you need for your projects. Otherwise, you might be forced to cut the skein into half, which isn’t always good.
Yarn ball winders take on different shapes and sizes that would be suitable for small, as well as heavy-duty capacity. This means that the cost will vary among the designs, leaving you to choose a winder that is within your budget. Usually, you’ll get electric yarn winders that are more expensive than the hand-operated designs.
For beginners who are just taking up knitting as a hobby, a small hand-operated ball winder should do, but for a serious knitter with high-capacity projects, an electric yarn winder would make the obvious choice.
Manual vs Electric Yarn Winders
Before buying, you’ll have to consider the pros of cons that a manual winder offers vis-à-vis what you get from an electric winder. While electricity-powered designs are more expensive, they help you save precious time by winding the skeins fast into yarn balls. They are also less labor-intensive and spare your hands and wrists from the fatigue.
Meanwhile, hand-operated yarn winders are less costly but more labor-intensive and will take more time to wind hanks into well-organized yarn cakes or balls. They are also not the best choice for a knitter suffering from conditions like dexterity or arthritis.
Interestingly enough, most knitters usually prefer manual yarn winders because they give them full control and lets them choose the number of yarn balls, as well as the tension. Furthermore, the electric yarn ball winders will need to be set up near a power outlet, which may be a slight inconvenience that you won’t find in a hand-operated ball winder.
A good yarn winder is one that lasts you a while; not something that will breakdown after just a couple of wind cycles. You’ll find yarn winders made out of materials like plastic, which doesn’t necessarily make them not durable but leaves them prone to breaking or cracking.
You want to find a design with a sturdy material construction to last you through multiple wind sessions.
It’s also crucial to examine the protection of gears as the yarn thread often slips underneath the gears, resulting in damage to the thread and possible loss of money. To make sure this is not the case, choose a winder with protected gears so that the yarn isn’t cut up.
Clamps help to stabilize the yarn winders and keep it from moving around when the device is winding. Your chosen winder must come with high-quality clamps to enhance the grip on the table or countertop. It should also not leave any damage or stains on the surface of your working desk.
If you’re a constant knitter, you should find winders that can cope with serious cranking. The cranks should be even and smooth to maintain the tension. Additionally, it should feel sturdy and durable but not pull too hard on the yarn so that you mess up the tension.
Ease of Assembly
Some yarn winder models come pre-assembled while others may require a certain level of setting up. If you purchase a design that requires assembly, then be sure to find one with a quick and easy setup. And it also helps when the winder comes with a set of easy-to-follow instructions.
This ensures that you won’t spend hours fumbling around the setup, especially if you’re a beginner.
The space you have in your premises to accommodate the yarn winder will determine the size of the winder you choose. Not everyone will have a huge workspace or storage room to accommodate heavy-duty products. As such, it would be wise to consider the space you have on your premises to see if it will suffice.
Remember that enough space is important for safe storage of the device when not in use.
The material used to construct the yarn winder not only determines its durability, but also the overall weight of the tool. Wooden material designs have a small weight and are durable, providing enhanced performance as you wind.
Similarly, plastic material is more affordable and compact; the only problem is that they may cause the yarn to get caught up in the loops.
Best Yarn Winder- Individual Reviews
1. Stanwood Needlecraft Ball Winder
The first product on our list is the Stanwood Large Heavy-Duty yarn winder; a go-to device to crochet or knit professionally. Although it might be a tad costly for some people’s comfort, its yarn winding capabilities cannot be compared to what you are used to getting from standard winders.
This yarn winder can hold up to 10oz of yarn skein, which is almost double the size of a standard skein, so you can imagine the winding capabilities you are working with.
The ball winder features a plastic spindle a skirt unit while its special cogwheels are manufactured out of nylon, not metal gears, and produce very little noise when the machine is spinning.
Its huge metal painted frame has a weight of around three pounds and its exposed gears will look cool to anybody who has a thing for mechanics. Rubber feet at the base of the metal frame ensure that the yarn winder remains stable while also protecting the surface of your table from scratches.
There is a metal table clamp attached to the yarn winder, which can be affixed to most tables and other flat surfaces. Generally, this is a powerful yarn winder with a larger-than-usual spindle unit. The spindle measures 2 inches diameter while the skirt has 6 inches of diameter.
The Stanwood Needlecraft Large metal ball winder has a rotating metal guide arm that winds around the spindle so that the spindle moves gradually in the opposite direction. The setup of the ball winder happens quite easily; it does not require any kind of tools.
It is easy to see the quality of this yarn winder in the sturdy material used in the entire unit. There are no flimsy plastic pieces that you find in ordinary winders, and the winding feels stable and smooth. Although you get a faint noise from the vibrating gears, the rubber feet ensure that the winder remains stable all through.
This item falls in the more expensive category of the products we’ll be discussing in the review, but you also get more efficiency, stability, and overall functionality. You can pair it with a swift yarn to enhance its practicality and it will handle the yarn extremely well.
You’ll also enjoy the smooth rotations on this remarkable yarn winder; there are hardly any tangles on the yarn and neither will you see the yarn getting caught up in the gears. And not to worry if you have a lot of yarn winding to do, there is also ample space on the spindle that allows the yarn cake to keep on expanding.
In a nutshell, the spindle capacity of this yarn winder is more than you will need, and that’s why serious crocheters and knitters like to prioritize this ball winder. If you are searching for a durable and high-capacity machine, you’ll enjoy the service from the Stanwood Needlecraft heavy-duty yarn winder.
2. Lacis Ball Winder- Runner Up
Our runner-up pick is the Lacis MO77 Yarn Ball Winder and this will go a lot easier on your budget compared to the previous model. However, you can still look forward to a practical yarn winder that will get the job done to your satisfaction.
This hand-operated yarn winder would make a great choice when you want to wind large hanks or skeins into a well-organized ball. It can easily work with super fine, as well as bulky weight yarns with no difficulty.
The construction of the yarn ball winder mainly features plastic, which results in a 1.57-pound lightweight design that is easy to carry around. It is quite small, meaning you shouldn't have trouble finding space in your home store it when not in use.
You won't fumble with this user-friendly yarn ball winder when you want to start winding your yarn. The installation is relatively straightforward and you still get a precise set of instructions to guide you through the short process in case you need help.
You can easily wind neat center-pull yarn balls that sit flat on the hand-operated ball winder. The device can handle yarn balls of up to 4oz, and the best part is that you won’t require any tubes or cones for this. However, some users claim that with a tighter yarn tension, you could probably go up to 5oz of ball.
There is also a set of easy-to-understand instructions that comes with the yarn winder to make sure that everything goes just fine. The Lacis MO77 ball winder works pretty swiftly. It offers an even flow of yarn and the yarn feeder prevents any tangling of the thread.
A built-in clamp of 1.5inches on the ball winder will fit firmly on the edge of the table or bench you are using and a covered gearbox prevents any jamming for flawless strings. Furthermore, the metal yarn guide arm helps to smoothly release the yarn so that it does not bunch up.
The only problem with this yarn winder is that the yarn may slip under the spool when the winder is spinning too fast. A possible solution, according to a customer, would be to turn the winder a little slower and maintain more tension on the yarn thread.
Aside from that, the Lacis MO77 is a high-performance yarn ball winder with conveniently sturdy construction. Its balance of cost-effectiveness and quality service makes it a popular choice for knitters.
3. Marrywindix Bobbin Winder- Best Budget Option
For those not looking to spend excessively but still expecting something functional, the Marywindix Bobbin yarn ball winder would be a great pick. If you particularly like to keep your knitting accessories on hand whenever you are on the go, this small and lightweight yarn winder should suit you.
The winder measures 6 by 4.1 by 7.6 inches and weighs in at a meager 12oz, leaving you with a compact device that you can fit in your backpack comfortably.
It will transform your loose yarn into neat yarn balls to simplify your knitting experience.
There is little assembly needed with the Marywindix yarn winder and will easily attach to most tables and desks without leaving behind the slightest sign of dents or scratches. An integral clamp on the winder can hold on to table surfaces that are up to 1.5-inch thick.
However, you want to watch out for its unsteady metal yarn guide arm as it tends to get unlocked randomly. The Marywindix yarn ball winder comes with a heavy-duty frame that will escape any unexpected bumps and drops without breaking into pieces.
Aside from being lightweight and convenient, it has a low sound profile while operating, so you don’t have to worry about it being a nuisance for your friends or neighbors. Its small frame also ensures that you have an easy time finding storage space for the yarn winder whenever you’re not using it.
A detailed set of instructions makes operating the already user-friendly yarn ball winder a walk in the park. You just have to follow through with five simple steps to get the winder working.
Many users have praised the Marwindix Bobbin yarn winder for being a life savior when they were on a tight budget. You get a functional and sturdy ball winder that will get the job done at an incredibly price-friendly rate; perfect for your household needs!
4. Yarn Valet- Most User-friendly Design
If you are looking for the easiest experience when winding yarn with a ball winder, you will probably find it in the Yarn Valet ball winder. This handy device has a compact and ergonomic design that will easily fit into your palm’s grip. It is easy to use and offers you independence when winding your yarn.
Weighing in at just under half a pound, this yarn ball winder is lightweight enough to bring along wherever you are going. It also measures 10 by 2 by 2 inches; a small frame that you can practically fit in a small handbag and nobody will notice.
The winder comes with a wind-center where you can spin the yarn into a tight and compact ball that stores easily. Another great feature on the yarn winder is a compartment that can hold your hooks, pens, markers, and any other small accessories that you may need while knitting.
You won’t struggle to use this ball winder. Simply place the yarn in the notch above the winder and it will secure the yarn in place as you spin it. Wind the yarn a few times around the main yarn while holding the end of your yarn tightly to secure it.
Proceed to twirl the winder in your direction as you put the yarn down from bottom up. Although the Yarn Valet yarn ball winder is quite easy to use, it is a hand-operated device, which means you’ll have to get your hands dirty.
The winder produces clean pull thread yarn cakes and balls effortlessly without needing any kind of heavy equipment. It allows you to create jumbo-sized yarn balls smoothly thanks to its even flow of thread that prevents bunches, tangles, and snags. This also results in reduced wastage of yarn.
Two swing arms have been integrated into the winder, allowing you to use either one at a time. As you use one of the arms, the second one acts as a counterbalance. You also get a plastic shaft alongside the yarn winder to help with your troubles.
This pocket Hercules of a yarn winder can handle up to 7oz of a yarn ball or cake. You also want to note that the winder doesn’t come in pieces, so setting it up may prove a little bit tricky, especially when you consider that there are no instructions.
However, most users will agree that figuring this out, even for newbies, will take a matter of minutes. The Yarn Valet is a functional yarn ball winder that will act as the perfect alternative to the more expensive yarn winders in the market.
5. Stanwood Needlecraft Hand-Operated Ball Winder
Stanwood is a recognized manufacturer in the knitting accessories market with a reputation for high-quality. And the Stanwood Needlecraft Hand-operated yarn ball winder is one of the reasons why their products have earned the respect of many knitting enthusiasts.
This exciting yarn winder is capable of producing center pull cakes or balls and can hold balls of up to 4oz. If you were impressed by our first pick but can’t afford its price, this would be a nice alternative and a great way to experience the quality of the Stanwood brand.
This ball winder is about half the size of its sibling and will also offer you smoother and quieter performance. It comes with a sturdy build, featuring a metal crank that is almost unbreakable. This should cover you against any durability or reliability issues.
As if that’s not enough, there is an unconditional full-year warranty for further assurance. The design of the winder features fully sealed cogwheels to prevent your yarn from getting caught when the device is working. This way, there is no risk of wasting your valuable yarn.
The yarn ball winder comes with a clamp that can be attached to tables of up to 1.75-inch thickness, which makes it very convenient as it can be used on a table, benches, and countertops. The design also produces little noise while running, ensuring that you don’t become a nuisance to your neighbor when winding yarn.
You can also pair it with an Amish or umbrella-style swift yarn to make it even more practical. The overall style of the winder is quite charming and features a blend of cream and royal blue colors that will instantly grab your attention.
However, some users have complained about the main moving parts being plastic and the clamp width not being suitable for some tables. Others have also pointed out the fact that the yarn may get caught in the gears and interrupt the knitting process.
Other than that, the rest of the parts on this yarn ball winder will hold well. And considering the price you are getting the Stanwood Hand-operated winder for, you can’t make too much noise about the little mishaps here and there.
6. Windaze Yarn Ball Winder- Best Design
The Windaze yarn ball winder is a user-friendly device that would be suitable for use by both beginner and experienced knitters. It comes with a sturdy design that will last you a lifetime and an affordable price tag that many knitting enthusiasts will appreciate.
This easy-to-use yarn ball winder will easily convert your loose yarn into neat and well-kept yarn balls. It requires no assembly and comes with an in-built clamp that will readily attach to any countertop, table, desk, and other surfaces without causing damage.
With dimensions of 8.7 by 3.3 by 8.7 inches, the Windaze yarn winder has a small frame that will not only fit most table surfaces but also prove relevant when you have to stow it away. Not to mention that it only weighs 13.6 ounces.
The winder clamp can be attached to table surfaces that are up to 1.4 inches thick. This remarkable device will produce immaculate pull thread yarn cakes and balls without the assistance of any heavy equipment. It enables you to create jumbo-sized balls with little hassle, thanks to an even flow that prevents snags, bunches, and tangles that lead to wastage.
To use it, simply place the loose yarn hanks or skeins through the rotary wheel and start winding to end up with a beautiful ball. Two swingarms have been integrated into the winder and allow you to use one while the other acts as a counterbalance.
You still get a bonus plastic shaft alongside the winder for your convenience. This yarn ball winder has a capacity of 7 ounces of yarn. It produces a low noise, which makes it convenient to use domestically and its superior functionality that will always get the job done.
Nevertheless, you want to be careful not to mess up set up correctly as the winder comes with no instructions. Otherwise, you will enjoy the level of service from this amazing yarn ball winder, from its overall durable design to its portability and ease of use.
7. Housweety Ball Winder- Best for Small Projects
If you are looking for a knitting device to serve your pet projects at home, the Housweety wool winder is just the thing for you! It has been designed to be user-friendly and will suit both newbie and experienced knitters.
This wool winder doesn’t require any assembly. It has a compact and lightweight build that allows you to carry around from one room to another with ease. This also means that you can conveniently store it whenever you’re done with yarn winding.
This hand-operated yarn winder produces little noise as it spins the yarn and features effortless operation. To use it, just lock the wool winder on the table and secure it by tightening the button. Proceed to pull the yarn through the iron wire and on to the groove disk before you start winding.
The winder is designed to handle up to 8 ounces of yarn, so it won’t be the best choice for big projects. However, it is rugged enough to cope with dozens of yarn winds. So, if you have any knitting project you were working on from home, the Homesweety wool winder will be a choice knitting accessory.
On the downside, some users have complained about the yarn holder arm’s inability to stand up properly. Other customers also claim that the clamp is not as sturdy as they would have wished, which shouldn’t be a big let-down, considering that it was designed for small projects.
Aside from these minor issues, the Housweety wool winder is a useful tool that anyone with a small budget should consider.
Yarn ball winders are essential tools that make knitting easier and more fun. The wool winder models in our review above should provide you with a great starting point if you’re searching for the best yarn winder in the market that you can use for your project.
Depending on the magnitude of your project and your experience in knitting, I’m sure you’ll find a nice option with the relevant features to perfectly suit your skill level for heavy-duty projects, as well as your pet projects at home.
The choice is yours!
How Do You Thread a Yarn Winder?
If you have a skein or hank that you want to wind using a yarn winder, follow the steps below to thread the ball winder:
- Locate the end of the hank or skein that is on the outside; this is the end that will be attached to your ball winder.
- Slip that end of the yarn through the metal yarn guide to the slit above the yarn winder. This is the end where you’ll access center-pull from your yarn cake.
- Slowly and easily, crank the handle so that the yarn ball winder starts to spin the yarn into a well-organized cake.
- Use your free hand to slowly guide the yarn between the swift yarn and the ball winder.
- Add to your speed progressively while making sure that the ball winder, as well as the yarn swift, are moving freely.
- Wait for your cake to form in no time!
Can you use a yarn winder without a swift?
Yes! You can use winders in the absence of a swift yarn. However, you’ll have to improvise with something to stand in for the swift. For instance, you can use your feet as the yarn swift; just untwist the hank or skein and slip it around your feet then pull them apart so that you have a bit of tension (the yarn strands won’t slip off and get tangled into one another).
Given that your feet won’t be able to spin around like an ordinary yarn swift, you’ll want to take it easy so that the wool doesn’t bunch up. A nice way to go about it would be to unloop one to two rounds thread at a time, wind them up, then repeat!
For the balls that are not fitting your winder, try to put a little tension in when you wind but ensure that things are being done the right way. If you wind the yarn too tightly, it may interfere with your knitted tension.
Alternatively, you can use an item such as a spin office chair to act as your yarn swift. If you can access an office chair with the relevant space beneath the legs, simply flip the chair upside down and pop off the wheels then use any markers you can get as support.
Just make sure that the chair is spinning smoothly, otherwise, you won’t get the results you were expecting.
How to Use a Wool Winder
If you're still learning how to knit and eager to know how to use a wool winder, the following guide should explain to you how to go about it:
- Secure the wool winder on to the edge of the desk or table you’re working on. Ideally, you should leave around 18 to 24 inches between the winder and the swift’s outer edge, if you can manage this kind of space.
- Thread your wool through the feeder eyes on your winder then insert it into the spot above the spool. The actual path of the yarn may vary depending on the instructions that come with your wool winder specifications.
- Start turning the handle of the winder slowly so that the yarn begins to wrap around the spool. Put your finger on the end of the yarn for the first few rotations to keep it in place. When you notice that the yarn is getting off the swift to the spool with no hitches, you can up the cranking speed.
- You don’t have to go too fast, just focus on achieving a steady rhythm. You can try placing your hand between the winder and swift and let the yarn run through your fingers. This way, you can stop the winding when you feel any knot or unexpected slub on the yarn.
- Stop cranking once you have exhausted all the yarn on the swift and place your thumb at the top of the spool then use your fingers to gently lift your yarn off the spool.
How to Use a Yarn Winder Stick
A yarn winder stick, also known as a Nostepinne is a low-tech version device that is used to wind yarn into center-pull balls. These are usually very simple and can be just a plain wooden stick, although some get a little fancier and feature grooves or sometimes more ornate decorations.
Nostepinnes represent an inexpensive and easy way of winding yarn that celebrates the old school approach of doing things. You won’t find many people using them today. Nevertheless, working with them involves the following procedure:
- The first thing you do is to tie the end of the yarn to the winder stick. You can use a simple half hitch knot so that it’s easy to untie once you’re done. If the Nostepinne you’re using has a groove, tie it there. Alternatively, you can tie the yarn end towards the bottom or top of the winder stick while leaving the middle part clear.
- Pull the yarn to the center of the stick and start to wind it around the stick a couple of times. The number of times you wind it doesn’t really matter as this is simply going to form the base of the yarn ball you want to create.
- You can wind the yarn about 15 times, just to makes sure that the winds are relatively close together. These don’t need to touch each other and you also don’t want them to be too far apart.
- Once the yarn has been wound around Nostepinne several times, you want to commence the ball winding pattern and to do this, you will take the yarn thread from the top wrap and down to the bottom wrap diagonally as you turn the winder stick slowly using the other hand.
- Take the yarn down to the base of the wraps in a diagonal motion as you continue turning the Nostepinne then bring it back up diagonally to the top. From here, you want to keep turning the winder stick and wrapping the yarn concurrently and diagonally while sticking to that “up-down” pattern.
- Pretty soon, you will start to notice the strands of yarn lining up diagonally and this is how your little cake starts to form. At the start, you’ll probably want to take the yarn all the way to the bottom and top of the cake that is forming to ensure that the yarn touches the wood both at the top and bottom of the cake.
- This way, it will be easier to wind once you start, but as you progress, you’re going to want to focus on the top and bottom of the yarn, not in contact with the wood. If you wrap it in such a way that the yarn touches the wood at the top and bottom, you may end up with an oval-shaped cake.
- However, if you are looking to create a regular-shaped cake, you want to ensure that each wrap rests on top of the wrap below it without touching the wood. This is what will create a little edge that you can start building a level top and bottom for the yarn cake.
- Once you have completed winding all the yarn, simply undo the hitch knot and pull the ball off the Nostepinne; you’re now good to go!
Using a yarn winder stick can be relaxing and meditative. It may not be fast but if you want something unique, gradual, and more historical that helps to keep you in touch with your yarn, using a Nostepinne is something you should definitely try out.
Besides, you can create really nice center pull yarn cakes with it!