Working with hanks of yarns can be time-consuming if you do not have a yarn winder and a yarn swift.
Instead of focusing on crocheting or knitting, you have to manually turn them into center-pull yarn cakes or balls to lessen the risk of tangling your yarns.
By using yarn winders and yarn swift, you don’t have to do this tiresome task with only your bare hands! Having the right tools to turn your hanks to perfect cakes or balls will surely be less time consuming and less prone to errors.
In this article, we will know more about the yarn winder and swift. These are the materials you that you can use to skip the long and arduous process of manually winding your yarn skeins to yarn cakes.
Aside from knowing what these tools are and how they are used, we will also discuss the features you have to look out for when you’re planning to buy one. We will also include a review of some of the most recommended yarn swift and yarn ball winder in the market.
What is a Yarn Swift?
Yarns are packaged in different ways, some are in balls, in skeins, and even in hanks. If the yarns you need comes in balls or in skeins, you can immediately use them and work on your new crochet project.
However, if your yarns are packaged in hanks, you have to wind them into balls or cakes first to lessen the chance of tangling your yarns and possibly ruining them. Turning your yarn hanks into yarn balls or cakes can be an exhausting process if you do not have the right tools.
How Do You Use a Yarn Swift?
Yarn swifts are used to hold your yarn while you make balls of yarn using your hands or make cakes using a yarn winder. You can easily adjust this tool to accommodate various hank sizes.
Aside from crocheters and knitters who need their yarns turned into cakes or balls, spinners and hand dyers also use yarn swifts. To easily turn their loose yarn into hanks, they wind the yarn onto the yarn swift to create a big yarn circle, tie it and turn it into a hank.
Things to consider when buying a Yarn Swift
There are a lot of different models of yarn swift available in the market, but knowing how you plan to use them will make it easier to choose the best one for you. We listed some of the factors you should definitely consider when buying your own yarn swift.
Types of Yarn Swift
First on the list is the type of yarn swift you want to use. We’ll dive deeper and discuss the difference between the two types.
To better understand why this type of yarn swift is called an umbrella yarn swift, you have to try and use one — or watch a video on how to use an umbrella yarn swift! Opening an umbrella yarn swift is similar to opening an umbrella.
This type of yarn swift has ribs that you can easily adjust to fit the size of your hank perfectly. To expand the ribs, you have to push the tightening screw upward and tighten the screws to secure its position.
Setting up the umbrella swift is pretty easy. In some models, you just have to attach it to the side of a table using a clamp, other models have a flat base that sits on top of any flat surface. There are even some models that are tall enough and stand on the floor.
It is important to note that the price of an umbrella style yarn swift depends on its material — most are made with wood or metal. You may encounter some models that are a lot cheaper than others, however, keep in mind that these can be not as sturdy as the other models and can only support lighter yarns.
Even with a sturdy and durable material, this type of yarn swift can collapse flat when not in use. A lot of crocheters and knitters prefer the umbrella style yarn swift because it takes less space than the Amish-design yarn swift.
Amish-Design Wooden Yarn Swift
If you’re knowledgeable in woodworking and you want to make your own yarn swift, you can opt for an Amish-Design wooden yarn swift. You can even complete one in just a few hours with the help of instructions that are readily available online!
Because you won’t need that many materials to create this type of yarn swift, it is not as expensive as the umbrella yarn swift. You just need some wood to make the two long, thin wood that crisscrosses in the middle to create the four arms and more wood for the four pegs.
Using this type of yarn swift is kinda similar to how you use the umbrella style swift. However, instead of having ribs, the Amish-design yarn swift uses movable pegs to hold the yarns.
Because of these movable pegs, this yarn swift can easily accommodate hanks of yarns with different circumferences. You just have to adjust and move the pegs in the holes available until it can hold the yarn firmly.
However, unlike the umbrella style yarn swift, some Amish-design yarn swift models cannot be taken apart. Hence, it can take more storage space than the other type.
Material and Quality
The material used and its quality can affect the lifespan of your yarn swift. It is important to know what material is used in the yarn swift you will buy.
Most wooden yarn swifts are made of hardwoods like birch or maple. These types of wood are known for being lightweight, easy to store, and for being highly durable.
However, they are not entirely made of wood. They also have some metal components, like the screws, that ensure better performance.
If you prefer to buy yarn swifts that are made of plastic, make sure to check its quality. Crocheters and knitters love plastic yarn swifts because they are so easy to store.
Although it is important to note that with plastic yarn swifts, your yarns can easily get caught on the loops and that may cause some damage to your yarn.
Always keep in mind the amount of space you have in your work area and also the extra space you have for storage. Both Umbrella Style and Amish-Design yarn swifts consume a lot of space when opened.
However, Umbrella Style yarn swifts take less space when in storage because you can collapse them flat, unlike the Amish-Design which cannot be taken apart.
Review of the Best Yarn Swifts in 2023
There are a lot of different yarn swifts available in the market. To help you decide which yarn swift to buy, we reviewed the five best yarn swifts in 2023.
1. Premium Knitter Yarn Swift 24″
If you want a yarn swift that’s easy to set up and has a firm grip, you should check out the 24” Premium Knitter Yarn Swift. Made with high-quality birchwood, this durable yarn swift has thick screws that grip your surface firmly ensuring a smooth yarn winding experience.
With its versatility, it can comfortably accommodate different hank sizes. Plus, this 1.85 pounds, lightweight yarn swift folds into a compact design so you can easily store it or carry it around.
- Durable and versatile
- Can accommodate different hank and skein sizes
- Operates smoothly and doesn’t snag the yarn
- The rivet holding the arms together often breaks
- The spinning can be a bit tight and stiff
- The screws are not made of metal and come loose
2. Yarn Swift Yarn Winder Yarn Ball Winder Knitting Yarn Holder
Although made with sturdy and thick metal parts for extra durability and better performance, the 1.08 pounds Yarn Swift Yarn Winder Yarn Ball Winder Knitting Yarn Holder weighs lighter than other wood yarn swifts. They can also be folded easily when not in use.
This smooth-running yarn swift has a table clamp that can fit edges up to 1.75” thick and can be clamped at any angle. You can also use this yarn swift in a horizontal or vertical position.
- Folds easily so it’s easy to store
- Smooth spinning and works with different types of yarns
- Thick and sturdy metal parts
- Sometimes, the stopper may slide as the machine spins
- The table clamp will leave marks on a wood table, but you can use a cover to protect your table.
3. Stanwood Needlecraft Wooden Umbrella Swift Yarn Winder
The Stanwood Needlecraft Wooden Umbrella Swift Yarn Winder is not only durable, but it is also aesthetically pleasing. This medium-sized Umbrella style swift is made with finely sanded finish birch wood material that is excellently crafted to be less vulnerable to breakage and to look good.
Weighing only 2 pounds, this yarn swift works quietly and smoothly. It can accommodate hanks up to 6ft in circumference and has metal tying wires that are hidden in its holes to ensure that the yarns – and even your hands – will not get caught in them.
- can accommodate hanks up to 6ft in circumference
- Very sturdy construction made of quality wood, durable
- Spins quietly, smoothly, and effortlessly
- Packs down for storage
- Tightly fixed clamps that can clamp onto surfaces up to 1 ¾ inch thick
- Wood can break if dropped, stepped on, or bent
- clamp screw part can sometimes crack, but screw replacements can be purchased
4. Stanwood Needlecraft Tabletop Amish Style Wooden Yarn Swift YW-3
If you want to try an Amish-design yarn swift, we highly recommend the 1.85 pounds Stanwood Needlecraft Tabletop Amish Style Wooden Yarn Swift YW-3. Keeping them in storage or carrying them around won’t be a problem because you can take the pieces apart.
Made using solid and durable wood, this yarn swift has a super smooth finish making it aesthetically pleasing and also lessens the chance of yarn snagging. Because it does not have toxic varnish fumes, it is deemed to be safe.
As with other Amish-design yarn swifts, you can easily move the pegs to accommodate larger or smaller hank sizes. It is able to handle all types of strings and has non slip pads to hold the swift firmly on the table when in use.
- Easy to assemble
- works smoothly
- Holds firmly on with its nonslip pad
- Can be taken apart so you can store it easily or bring it on the go.
- Made with durable wood and has a smooth finish
- Can be hard to position
5. CHIAOGOO 1098 Amish Design Wooden Yarn Swift
The 1.15 pounds CHIAOGOO 1098 Amish Design Wooden Yarn Swift has labeled peg holes making it easier to know where to place your pegs depending on the size of your hank. Aside from its easy and fun to use, it’s also quite easy to assemble.
It has 4 pieces for the base, the criss-cross arms, and 5 dowels for the 4 pegs, and a shorter one for the middle. Just like other Amish-design yarn swift, you need a flat surface to put this on and it comes with non-skid pads to make sure it will not move when you are working.
- Simple and easy to use and assemble
- Has labeled peg holes and movable pegs to accommodate different hank sizes
- Can be placed on flat surfaces and comes with a non-skid pad at the bottom
- Smooth finish
- Takes too much space in storage because it does not fold down
- Arms are not secured together by screws
Basically, a yarn swift is a tool that can hold your yarns while you manually create balls or cakes from your loose yarns. You can use it along with a yarn ball winder to easily create center-pull balls and cakes.
But exactly is a yarn winder?
What is a Yarn Winder?
Are you having a hard time organizing your leftover yarns from your past projects? Why not turn them into cakes that you can easily stack?
A yarn winder is another tool that both crocheters and knitters use to organize their yarns. You can even use it along with your yarn swift to make a better center-pull cake.
Using a yarn ball winder is a better and faster alternative to winding your yarns using your own hands. It’s a great tool to use to prepare your yarns and turn them into cakes before you start using them on your crochet or knit projects.
Do you really need a Yarn Winder?
Making use of a yarn winder will greatly improve the way you work on your crochet or knit projects. For instance, you can check if your yarns have knots and imperfections as you wind your yarn using a yarn ball winder.
Winding your yarns into cakes using a ball winder and swift also decreases the chance of tangling the yarn and ruining it.
Why are Yarn Cakes better than Yarn Balls?
Manually winding yarns using just your hands usually creates yarn balls instead of yarns cakes. To make a yarn cake, you will need to wind the yarn around a cylindrical bobbin. You can easily do this using a yarn ball winder.
Unlike balls that have the tendency to roll around as you work on your project, yarn cakes have a flat bottom that stays in place even as you pull your yarn.
Things to consider when buying a Yarn Winder
Just like other tools, you really have to do your research and know what features to look out for when buying your own yarn winder. We listed some of these features to help you decide which yarn ball winder to buy.
The quality of the material used to make the yarn ball winder will determine how durable and sturdy the product is. Most yarn winders are built using metal, wood, or plastic.
Using high-quality wood gives you a wax-finish, perfect if you want a long-lasting and timeless, elegant yarn ball winder. Plastic yarn winders, on the other hand, are lightweight and do not scratch your table or other surfaces.
There are also yarn ball winders that are made from metals. However, keep in mind that they can be prone to damage if exposed to moisture.
Although there are some yarn ball winders that are cheaper than the others, buying a quality winder will always be the better choice. A more expensive yarn winder lasts longer than the cheaper ones and their gears are usually better protected hence there will be less chance of eating and ruining your yarn.
Another feature you should look into when buying your yarn ball winder is the amount of yarn it can hold. Professional knitters and crocheters should go for yarn winders that can hold up to 10 oz of yarn weight.
However, if you are a medium or light user, winders that can hold up to 7 oz will do. Having a winder that has a smaller capacity means you will have to cut long hanks into smaller pieces and create multiple, smaller cakes.
Just like us, you probably prefer to just dive into crocheting or knitting instead of spending so much time preparing your yarn. Hence, it is important to look for a yarn ball winder that requires minimal assembling, giving you more time to work on your craft.
Some ball winders come with a removable clamp making it easier and faster to prepare your tool.
The base of the product
One of the cons of using a yarn winder is the scratches it can leave on your flat surfaces. But, it can easily be avoided!
When shopping for a yarn ball winder, always look for one that has a smooth base. These are very common in plastic ball winders.
Manual or electric winder
Deciding whether to buy a manual or electric ball winder depends on how you plan to use it.
Electric yarn winders are more efficient and can save you more time. It’s also great for people who have arthritis since it is less labor-intensive.
However, since it is an electric winder, you need to have a wall socket nearby whenever you are going to use it. So if you plan to travel a lot while working on your projects, it is not advisable to buy an electric winder.
If you are a traveling knitter or crocheter, go for a yarn winder that you can easily take to different places. A manual yarn winder is portable and does not need electricity so it’s great if you’re always on the road.
Because you do not need electricity to operate this winder, it is less expensive than the electric ones. However, because you need to use more effort when using this winder, it is not recommended for those who have arthritis.
Battery operated winders
Just like the electric winders, battery-operated yarn winders are also less labor-intensive than manual winders. But, unlike electric winders, you do not need an electric socket to operate this winder.
When traveling, make sure to bring extra batteries in case the ones you are using runs out of charge.
Look for a yarn ball winder that has a high-quality table clamp that enhances the grip on the flat surface and can provide stability as you work on your yarn. Even with a tight grip, it should not leave any marks or damage your surface.
As you turn your hanks into cakes, your thread can slip underneath and get caught in the gears. A big no-no especially if you are working with high-quality and expensive yarns!
To make sure you will not damage your yarn and possibly lose money because of it, make sure the yarn ball winder you are using has protected gears.
The size of your yarn ball winder should also depend on the size of your work area. You should also take into consideration the space the yarn winder will occupy when in storage and when not in use.
Review of the Best Yarn Winders in 2023
To have an overview of the best yarn ball winders in the market, we listed the top 5 best yarn ball winders for 2023.
1. Knit Picks Yarn Winder
If you are looking for a tool that you can easily use to turn your hanks of yarn into center-pull cakes, you have to check out the Knit Picks Yarn Winder. This winder is said to be comfier to use and easier on your hands and wrists.
This yarn winder that can accommodate up to 100 grams or 3.5 ounces of yarn is easy to use and requires little assembly. You just have to attach the table clamp that to a surface that’s 1 to ½ inches thick, and get to work!
With a removable spindle and foldable yarn guide arm, this yarn winder will not take too much space even when in storage. It’s a perfectly compact winder that works perfectly with any yarn type, plus it’s budget-friendly too!
However, because it is made with mostly plastic components, some users are questioning the durability of this yarn ball winder. But no worries, it known to stand up to dozens of winds.
- Small and portable, does not take too much space
- Easy on the wrists and hands
- Ideal for small projects
- Less expensive
- Can work with different yarn types
- Spins slower than most prefer
- Hard to take the middle bobbin off once clicked into place
- Can be a bit squeaky
2. Stanwood Needlecraft Large Metal Yarn/Fiber/Wool/String Ball Winder
Professional crocheters and knitters who do a lot of yarn work will surely appreciate this heavy-duty yarn winder. The 3 pounds Stanwood Needlecraft Large Metal Yarn/Fiber/Wool/String Ball Winder can hold up to 10 oz of yarn, more than two times the sizes of a regular hank of yarn.
This yarn winder has a 5 inches plastic spindle with notches at the end and cogwheels made of nylon that does not wear down. It also has a 2 ⅛ inch metal table clamp and metal painted frame with rubber feet in the bottom that protects your surfaces from scratches.
Its heavy-duty frame ensures a smooth, stable, and sturdy winding that can cause some vibration and a little bit of noise.
- Can wind up to 10 ounces of yarn
- Little to no assembly needed, does not require tools
- Table clamp can fit on thick tables up to 2 1/8 inches
- Sturdy construction and smooth winding
- Heavy-duty for heavy users
- Produces little noise and some vibration
- Storage may be difficult because of the large size
- Yarn tends to slip under the bottom of the cone
3. Stanwood Needlecraft YBW-A Hand-Operated Yarn Winder
For those who do not work with as many yarns, you can try the Stanwood Needlecraft YBW-A Hand-Operated Yarn Winder. It can create 4 oz or smaller center-pull cakes that will never get tangled.
This sturdy yarn ball winder is made with strong materials. It has a metal crank that works incredibly fast and smooth.
Aside from its durability, It’s also user-friendly and easy to attaches to various surfaces that measure up to 1 ¾ inch. Because of its size, it does not take too much space.
- 1-year unconditional warranty
- Works smoother than the other models
- Can only make smaller balls (4oz)
4. Marrywindix Bobbin Winder Yarn Winder Table Clasp
If being able to travel with a yarn ball winder in tow is your top priority, you’ll surely love this Marrywindix Bobbin Winder Yarn Winder Table Clasp. This 6 x 4.1 x 7.6 inches, lightweight yarn winder is compact enough to fit in your backpack.
The heavy-duty yarn ball winder only needs some little assembly before you can use it and it’s so easy to setup. Its table clamp attaches to surfaces that are up to 1.5 inches thick and do not leave any marks.
Because of its small frame, it does not need as much space, and it’s quite easy to store. So if you’re looking for a perfectly functional, sturdy, and compact yarn ball winder at a budget-friendly price, this one is for you.
- Compact and lightweight
- Heavy duty
- Produces less noise
- Needs little assembly
- unsteady metal yarn guide arm as it tends to get unlocked randomly
- Not ideal for heavy skein yarns
- Center bobbin may spin loose
5. Stanwood Needlecraft YBW-B Hand-Operated Yarn Winder
If you want to experience the expensive Stanwood Yarn Ball Winders, you can go for this cheaper but still high-quality Stanwood Needlecraft YBW-B Hand-Operated Yarn Winder. It ensures a smooth and quiet performance that can accommodate up to 4 oz of yarn.
This sturdy yarn ball winder has an almost unbreakable metal crank and fully sealed cogwheels that protect your yarn. You can easily attach it to any flat surface up to 1.75-inch with its table clamp.
- Sturdy and durable
- Metal crank and fully sealed cogwheels
- Produces center-pull yarn
- 1-year unconditional warranty
- Produces little noise
- 4oz yarn capacity
- The main moving parts is plastic
- The clamp is not suitable for other tables
- Yarn may get caught in the gears
Frequently Asked Questions about Yarn Swift and Yarn Winder
What is a yarn swift?
A yarn swift is a tool that holds your hank of yarn as you wound it into a ball or a cake. Most yarn swifts are adjustable to accommodate different hank circumferences and rotates at the center spindle.
Do I need a yarn swift?
If you are working with hanks of yarn and you want a hassle-free yarn winding, we highly recommend using a yarn swift. However, if your yarns are in cakes or balls already, you will not need a yarn swift.
How does a yarn swift work?
A yarn swift holds hanks of yarn so you can easily wind them into balls or cakes. After setting it up and putting the yarn, you can now remove the ties holding the yarn together then you can work with your yarn. Your yarn swift will spin as you pull your yarn.
How do you use an umbrella yarn swift?
When using an umbrella yarn swift, you have to put the hank of yarn over the swift. Adjust the ribs so it holds the yarn perfectly. Cut the tie that holds the yarn together, and get one end of the yarn. Then use this end to wind the ball or the cake.
How do you use an Amish yarn swift?
Amish Yarn Swifts work just like the umbrella yarn swift. The only difference is that they have pegs instead of ribs.
First, you have to put the hank of yarn over the pegs and adjust until they fit perfectly. Since there are different hank circumferences, there are peg holes in this yarn swift so you can adjust the position of the pegs.
Then, cut the ties holding the yarn together. You can now work on winding your yarn.
Do I need a yarn winder?
If you want a faster and easier way to make center-pull cakes, using a yarn ball winder is the way to go. However, if you plan to make balls instead of cakes, manually winding them using your hand will work better.
How does a yarn winder work?
A yarn ball winder spins and creates yarn cakes. It has a cylindrical spindle with groves on the top where you can put your yarn. Spin the spindle by using the crank and you’ll then see your yarn cake forming!
How do you use a yarn swift and a yarn winder?
When you are working with hanks of yarn you can use a yarn swift to hold the yarn while you use the yarn winder to turn them into cakes.
First, put your hank of yarn in your yarn swift and adjust the setup. Make sure it’s holding the yarn perfectly. Then, get one end and attach it to your yarn ball winder.
After making sure the yarn is secured, you can now then turn the handle of your yarn winder and create your yarn cakes.
Why are yarn not sold in balls?
Turning hanks of yarns into balls are not really practical. Because of spherical shape, yarn balls can be hard to stack on top of each other when in storage.
They also have the tendency to roll around as you pull the yarn because they do not have a flat bottom like the yarn cakes.
Can you use a yarn winder without a yarn swift?
Yes, you can use a yarn ball winder even if you do not have a yarn swift. If your yarns are in skeins, balls, or cakes already, you can easily attach one end of your yarn to the winder and wind them into cakes.
Wrapping Up the Best Yarn Winders and Yarn Swifts
Before working on your crochet or knitting projects, it is a good practice to examine your yarns as you turn them into center-pull cakes. With this, you will be able to see and get rid of tangle and knots.
With the help of the different tools available in the market, you no longer have to do all of these manually with your hands. We highly recommend using a ball winder and swift to speed up the process.
The type of yarn winder and yarn swift you will buy will depend on the type of yarns you typically use, the size of your work area, and the storage space available. We also discussed other factors you should consider when buying a yarn swift and a yarn ball winder.
With the help of the yarn ball winders and yarn swifts we reviewed in this article, we hope you’re able to find one or two that fits you the best! Don’t forget to let us know which yarn ball winder and yarn swift you went for by sharing your purchase on our Facebook Page.
If you want to know more about how you can make your own yarn swift, this article will help you!
We are positive you’ll have more fun organizing and preparing your stash of yarns with a yarn ball winder and a yarn swift!