How to Easily and Quickly Make a Ball of Yarn Using a Yarn Ball Winder

best yarn ball winder for beginnersIf you are into knitting or crocheting, you probably have spent a fair share of time rolling balls out of your weaving yarn.

We all know that dreadful feeling when you find a new yarn you love sold as a hank or skein, but you really don’t want to roll it into a ball later at home.

Using a yarn ball winder will let you save precious time you would otherwise spend winding a ball of yarn by hand.

In this article, we will look at how to wind a skein of yarn into a ball using a yarn ball winder.

Advantages of using a Yarn Ball Winder

You probably came here because you spend countless of hours winding your skeins into balls by hand. So you know that using a ball winder is not strictly necessary. But it is one of those useful weaving tools to have that can make life so much easier, that many people decide to buy one anyway.

Yarn winders will let you roll your yarn into balls or center pull cakes in no time. These yarn cakes are a great way of preventing your yarn from constantly flopping and moving around while you work.

Additionally, while using the ball winder you can quickly check if your yarn has any knots in it. Realizing that your yarn is all tangled up when you are in the middle of your project is one of the most frustrating things that can happen to you.

If you learn how to make a ball of yarn, you will have to spend some extra time before you start can start knitting, crocheting or using your weaving loom. But it is faster and much more pleasant than removing knots as you go.

Finally, tightly winded balls and cakes of yarn are much easier to store between two projects. If you store several hanks or skeins in the same drawer, you might find a monster of tangled threads and knots that can scare anyone.

How to Make a Ball of Yarn

The video below gives a good demonstration of how to roll a ball of yarn, using a yarn ball winder by KnitPicks.

If this is the first time using the winder, you will of course need to assemble it first. This might differ from model to model. But if you are using the KnitPicks winder it really only takes a minute or two.

Attack your winder firmly to the table and make sure that it doesn’t move. In the video, a yarn swift is used in combination with the winder to simplify and speed up the process, but it is not absolutely necessary.

Pull the yarn through the loop arm, and secure the yarn in the two groves on the cone part of your winder.

With all of that in place, you are ready to start winding your skeins into a firm ball by just rotating the arm. If you are using a yarn swift, you can rotate the arm and wind the yarn pretty fast. But if somebody is holding the yarn for you, you might want to slow down a little.

Keep rotating until you got a ball of the right size or you run out of yarn. Then take out the other side of the yarn that you initially secured into the groves of the cone and pull it outside. And gently slide off the ball from the winder.

Buying a Yarn Ball Winder

There are many different ball winders on the market. So what do you need to look for in a good yarn ball winder?

Below are a few things you might want to consider when you buy a new yarn winder for the first time.

Manual or Electric

Yarn ball winders can either be manual or electric. They work pretty similarly though. The main difference is the speed and the price.

Electric winders can do the job much faster but come at a higher price point. Since even manually winding yarn into a ball doesn’t take that much time, it’s perfectly fine to start with a manual model.

Only if you plan on processing huge amounts of yarn at a time would be investing in an electrical model be worth it.

Sturdy Design

Most yarn ball winders are made out of plastic, but they might also contain wooden or metallic part. If you are using your winder on a regular beating, make sure to buy a winder that has gears that can take a little of wear and tear.
If you model comes with a table clamp, make sure that it is big enough for your table and that it has a good grip. It should be firmly in place while you use it.


Although the size of the actual ball winder isn’t that important, you do want to check the maximum size of balls or cakes it can make.

Some model can only handle 3.5 oz of yarn while other more expensive models can hold up to 16 oz of yarn.

Our Recommended Yarn Ball Winder

We normally suggest people buy the yarn ball winder by KnitPicks if it is their first time buying a winder.

It comes at a relatively low price and is easy to use. It makes small 3.5 oz balls so it’s appropriate for most small hobby projects.

Not only is it easy to set up, directions on the box and the arrows painted on the crank give clear directions on how to use it. It might not go as fast as an electric model, but you will have full control over the entire process.

This might be the best yarn ball winder for beginners, since you can experience good value for money, even without committing a huge amount of money up front.

Click Here to buy the yarn ball winder by KnitPicks

Do I need a Yarn Swift?

While using your yarn ball winder, you need something or someone to hold the yarn for you. You might ask your husband of friends to help you out a few times, but if you frequently need to wind yarn it might be better not to ask them every time.

A quick solution could be to wrap the yarn around a chair or some big pots of pans. Or you could invest a little more money in buying a yarn swift.

The yarn swift is a funny looking construction that will hold the yarn for you, and rotate in circles while you wind the yarn into a ball.

The video above gives a good demonstration of how to set up and how to use the yarn swift by KnitPicks.

This model goes well in combination with the KnitPicks ball winder suggested above. Simply attach it to the table, place the yarn in a loop around it, and then open the umbrella clamp to adjust the circumference of the yarn swift to the actual yarn.

Click Here to buy the KnitPicks yarn swift