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It’s not always a bad thing to be tightly wound. Rolling yarn by hand can be time consuming and tedious, and often those balls wound by hand roll around and fall apart. As an alternative, yarn winders get the job done fast, making center-pull, flat-bottomed yarn balls that stay put as you knit or crochet. These convenient devices typically clamp onto a table and feature a hand crank that you turn to feed and wrap yarn around an attached spool. Winding yarn prevents it from getting tangled as you work and provides a good opportunity to inspect your yarn for knots or weak spots so you can fix them before you get started on your project. A must-have for beginning and expert knitters alike, a yarn winder is a smart buy. Browse our roundup of the best ones below.
1. Stanwood Needlecraft Yarn Ball Winder
Many modern yarn ball winders have a similar look, with an angled plastic spool perched on a small tabletop base. In our book, the best model you can get with this space-saving design is this one from Stanwood. It is solidly constructed to tolerate forceful winding, featuring a metal crank and wire arm that supports the yarn as it’s fed onto the spool. The cogwheels of the winder are enclosed in a plastic housing to avoid jamming, and rubber padding on the base protects your work surface when the winder is clamped on. Capable of holding up to 4 ounces of yarn, this device operates with quiet clicks, getting the job done fast and tangle-free.
2. Knitter’s Pride Natural Series Ball Winder
If your budget allows it, consider investing in a wooden yarn winder, which is more handsome and eco-friendly than a plastic design. We like this one from Knitter’s Pride, which is handcrafted from natural birch wood and winds not only smoothly but also silently. It also looks different from the most common models, featuring a long wooden base that supports a spool and a horizontally oriented hand crank. The wood is splinter-free and precisely assembled so yarn whizzes through all components without a hitch. Wind up to 1 pound of fingering-weight yarn at a time with this attractive device.
3. Lacis Jumbo Yarn Ball Winder
Many plastic winders have a 4-ounce capacity, like our top pick. If that’s not enough to meet your knitting needs, go big and get a jumbo. This machine can wind up to 10 ounces of material at a time—you might even be able to reach 1 pound, depending on the thread weight—gathering it all neatly on a durable plastic cone. Its swing arms maintain a consistent tension while preventing yarn from snagging as the device winds, the clamp stays tight as you work, and the gears run seamlessly.
4. Butuze Yarn Ball Winder
This little table-clamp winder is smaller than the rest on our list, but it can still wind about 4 ounces of yarn. It is a great low-cost choice for anyone who is new to knitting and might not be ready to invest in something more heavy-duty. Sure, the components feel a little less finessed than pricier picks, but the handle turns smoothly (though with noticeable popping sounds), and it maintains stability during the winding process. Yarn doesn’t slip out of the arm, either. It comes with several stitch markers and needles.
5. LAMXD Ball Winder
The speed of a yarn winder depends on how fast your hand can turn the handle, and this one can really accommodate turbo cranking. Its crank is metal for strength, its base is cast iron for stability, and its gears are made of nylon for quiet operation. Due to this shipshape construction, you can turn the arm at top speed without affecting stability, tension, and neatness. The one downside is that it does make some noticeable noise. This winder can hold skeins up to about 7 ounces, depending on the thread weight.