Nylon gears produce comparatively quiet noise during winding.
Gears aren't enclosed and thus are exposed to dirt accumulation.
A reliable construction combined with an easily accessible for cleaning gear assembly make the Stanwood Needlecraft knitting ball winder an optimal choice for processing a large amount of yarn.
Manual ball winder
Up to 10 oz.
Cone and gears - plastic;
Base - metal
Up to 2 1/8"
Sanded wood have smooth edges that don't catch the strand during unwinding. Wooden arms accumulate almost no static charge, unlike some plastic models.
When the strand is pulled with great force, the swift may rotate too fast loosening the strand tension.
If you love practical and good-looking weaving and spinning equipment, this Stanwood Needlecraft Wooden Umbrella Swift will be a great addition to your knitting workplace.
6 ft. in circumference
up to 1 3/4"
Very compact size for quick storing. Easy to assemble and handle.
Due to the simple design and very attractive price, this manual winder will be an optimal choice for those who are only getting acquainted with knitting or crocheting.
Manual ball winder
Up to 3.5 oz.
Up to 1 1/2"
2 metal guides provide more balanced performance along with great tensile strength for the strand for making dense cakes.
The short clamp that clutches the base to the desk may come off, especially on round tables.
If you are looking for a manual ball winder that can make from small to large yarn cakes, pay attention to this model that has a solid build and material quality.
Manual ball winder
Up to 10 oz.
Amazon's 30-day return policy
Umbrella diameter can be quickly changed via the clamp near the head. Center rod's angle is adjustable for horizontal or vertical orientation.
When rotating at high velocity, the strand may become loose and be caught by the metal arms.
This multifunctional umbrella swift has a very good price for the quality. And it is suitable not only for unwinding skeins but also great for creating yarn hanks as well.
6 ft. in circumference
Central rod and spokes - metal;
Outer arms - plastic
Up to 1 7/10"
Amazon's 30-day return policy
What is a Yarn Ball Winder
In the stores, the yarn is usually sold in the form of a twisted coil called hank or skein - a shapeless single strand folded back and forth many times. Knitting by pulling the strand directly from them is a total pain because it keeps making knots and tangles all the time. Some people make hand-winded balls from them first. Still, this isn't the most practical solution because such balls have a tendency to roll around, getting dirty from the dust and what-not.
The better choice would be to use yarn winders. They have a cylinder for creating the yarn cakes with flat top and bottom that don't roll around that easily. Also, in such cake, the strand can be pulled from both inside and outside during knitting.
On a related note, as the yarn hanks aren't suitable to be wound up with the winder right away, knitters use special devices called swifts to unwind them without tangles. The most popular type of swifts resembles an umbrella with an adjustable diameter for holding hanks of different sizes and for gradually unwinding them.
In this review, we have picked up the products from both categories. So, check them out below. If you are hungry for even more knitting and sewing supplies, check out our review on the best knitting machines that make the whole process even more automated. We can also recommend this guide on the best craft tables for creating a perfectly organized working space.
Stanwood Needlecraft Large Metal Yarn / Fiber / Wool Ball Winder
A Large Ball Winder for Heavy Duty
This Stanwood Needlecraft model of knitting ball winders is big and can make up to 10 oz. yarn cakes. However, even when rotated at full speed, it doesn't produce much vibration. The base and the clamp are made of sturdy metal, but the bobbin, gears, and crank handle are made of plastic.
Despite our initial concerns that the nylon gear teeth might be too weak and break apart if used intensively for a long time, they turned out to be very reliable and long-lasting here. Unlike the metal gears, these also make much less noise, which is a huge plus if you plan on setting it in a living room. Speaking of installation, the extra-wide base platform has the C-clamp for attaching it to up to 2 1/8" thick desk.
Controls-wise, all you need to do is set the strand from the skein in the bobbin and rotate the handle while slightly holding the strand with the other hand to reduce the risk of tangling. For the best results, we recommend combining it with the umbrella swift.
Bottom line: even though there are many models with pretty much the same design, this 10 oz. ball yarn winder has a reliable build and works comparatively quietly. This makes it one of the best winders for making large cakes of yarn.
Stanwood Needlecraft Wooden Umbrella Swift Yarn Strauch Winder
Anti-Static and Eco-Friendly Fix for Your Winder
Writing the review on the yarn winders would be almost impossible without mentioning the swifts. To some extent, they can be an even more important tool for knitting than ball winders. The reason is that they allow you to uncoil the hanks and make the balls or cakes out if them faster than if you just did this with your hands.
This Stanwood Needlecraft Yarn Swift can be expanded just like an umbrella for holding skeins with up to 6 ft. in circumference. That way, it can hold almost any size of yarn, wool or fiber hanks that are available on the market. But what the people really like about this model is its design and materials. All of its wooden components have a fine sanded finish without any splittings. Therefore, there's nothing that could catch and entangle the yarn during spinning. Additionally, the wooden arms create almost no static electricity, which is a good thing because sometimes you can get zapped when the fabric is spun on a plastic model. The clamp is made of wood as well and has a 1 3/4" maximum mouth opening for attaching it to the desks.
As a result, the Stanwood Needlecraft Umbrella Swift is good-looking, easy-to-handle knitting equipment for smoothly unwinding the hanks and use in pair with a yarn winder.
KnitPicks Yarn Ball Winder
A Small Ball Winder for a Good Price
If you are looking for the ball winder to make small cakes for your crocheting and knitting projects, this KnitPicks Yarn Ball Winder is exactly what you need because it's designed to make compact - up to 3.5 oz. - balls for hassle-free storing.
This model comes disassembled but all the parts are not too hard to put together thanks to the instructions printed outside of the box. In the bottom of the base, there is a plastic clamp for securing it on up to 1 1/2" thick desks. As for the winding parts, the plastic gears are hidden inside the base - probably, for protection against clogging.
It's worth mentioning that it's quite noisy when you rotate the handle too fast, but it doesn't affect the result in any way. What does actually have an impact on the winding quality is the low strand tension between the skein and the winder. Therefore, you might want to hold the strand with your free hand to form the cake of higher density or just get a swift for this.
In short, it's an inexpensive ball winder that even a child can handle for winding small yarn cakes.
Lacis Jumbo Yarn Ball Winder
Perfectly Balanced for Perfect Performance
The instruction says that this Lacis Jumbo MO37 Yarn Ball Winder is designed for winding up to 10 oz. yarn cakes. However, some reviewers on Amazon report that they have winded a full 1 lbs skein with it as well. It has 2 symmetrically placed swing arms. It turned out that having the strand pulled through both of them not only increases the tension allowing you to create denser balls but also makes the device more stable when the cone is spinning at high speed. Therefore, it produces fewer vibrations and less noise, compared to some other ball winders. Additionally, those arms keep the yarn away from the gears, which is also a good safety measure.
Although it comes disassembled in a box, the manufacturer has included a handy screwdriver with a magnetic tip for the tiny screws and the detailed instruction on how to put the pieces together. The plastic clamp that secures the base to the desk is a bit short but looks like it can withstand some heavy duty. What's more, it's attached to the rotatable rod that you can just move aside and simply place the ball winder on the table when you need to wind small cakes instead of attaching to it to save your time.
CUTEHILL Umbrella Swift Yarn Winder
Bright Choice for Crocheting and Knitting
This colorful CUTEHILL Umbrella Swift has the arms with the bright green color and comes at a very attractive price. It can firmly hold hanks with up to 6 ft. in circumference while you gently unwind the skeins. We have noticed that if you pull the strand out of it too fast, e.g. when you pair it with the ball winder, the swift can spin around way at such a high speed that the strand may become loose. Still, it has a wonderful quality for its price.
Furthermore, the swift's rod angle can be adjusted, so that you could secure the umbrella in a necessary position. For example, make the umbrella stay in a vertical orientation like the spinner's weasel.
The diameter is super-easy to change: just press the spring clamp near the umbrella head and fine-tune the size for the skein. On the very top, there's a small crank handle used for unraveling the knitted strand back onto the swift or for creating the hanks back from the balls.
Concluding, this is a nice inexpensive umbrella swift for controlling the skeins for you while balling or for winding the hanks with it.
1. Sarah E. White How to Make a Ball of Yarn With a Ball Winder, The Spruce. May 3, 2017.
2. Ashley Little How to Use a Yarn Swift + Why It’s a Good Investment, Craftsy. February 7, 2015.
3. How to Use a Yarn Winder, wikiHow.
4. Types of Yarn Packaging, Dummies.
5. Swift (Textiles), Wikipedia. November 7, 2016.