One of my favorite tools in my arsenal is my ball winder. It’s such an underrated tool, but I ever since I got mine a few years ago, I’ve turned to it time and time again. The one I have is from the Knit Picks brand and it’s so useful at the beginning and end of every project. What it does is help you turn any mess of yarn into a nice, neat little center-pull cake, so that you keep your projects and stash clean and tangle free. If you don’t have one, or are on the fence about it, this post is for you. This is everything you need to know about how to use a ball winder and my review of the one I use.
How to Use a Ball Winder
The Parts + Setting Up
For this post, I’m using the Knit Picks ball winder, and you can find it here. Before we get into how to actually use it, let’s go over the pieces it comes with and how to get it set up.
From left to right, we have the spindle where the yarn is wrapped, the handle in case you want to hold it as you wrap, the main base of the ball winder, and the clamp for fixing the winder to a table.
To assemble this, all you have to do is insert the spindle into cutout area on the base and turn it to lock it in place. If you want to hold the ball winder in you hand, you attach the handle the same way to the bottom of the base. Otherwise, and this is the way I like to use it, you can insert the L shape of the clamp into a hole at the bottom of the winder and use the accompanying screw to secure it. Then just place the ball winder on the edge of a table and use the butterfly screw on the clamp to attach it to the table.
The whole set up takes about 15 seconds, really.
The ball winder also has a metal arm that’s used to guide the yarn and help you spot any knots and tangles as you’re winding. The arm is pressed to the base when you get it, but just swing it out so it catches in its little notch in order to use it. The first time I used it, I forgot that and the arm wobbled so much I thought it was broken! I just didn’t know to click it into place.
Using the Winder
Okay, now that you’re familiar with the ball winder, let’s use it! I attached mine to the edge of a table using the clamp and made sure it was nice and secure before I began. If you’re using a white table like mine, put a little piece of fabric or a napkin under the clamp because the non-slip rubber pads there will leave a black mark. It wipes away easily, but it’s still a little annoying.
Here is a video of me using the ball winder and talking you through it.
As I explained in the video, all you really have to do is feed the yarn through the guiding arm and secure it in the notches on the spindle. Then, you turn the crank slowly to get it started and continue turning to wrap all your yarn around it. Then, just slide the whole thing off and you have a perfect little cake. This works with most winders, but I’ve had this one for years and can speak more about this particular one than any other.
Ball Winder Review
Overall, I LOVE this ball winder. It’s simple, easy to use, and it’s a big help in keeping things neat. But here are a few of the reasons I prefer this one to others I’ve looked at:
- It disassembles for easy storage! I keep mine in a box with other yarn bits like my swift.
- The turning is smooth and silent. You can hear a little sound of the crank, but the winder doesn’t make much noise as it turns. Other ones (especially wood ones) have an odd grating/rubbing sound that I don’t like.
- It’s so pretty! Most of the other ball winders I’ve seen are ugly. They just look clunky and don’t come in very nice colors; but this is so elegant looking and it’s purple, which is my favorite color.
- It has the optional handle. Sometimes, if I only need to wind one ball quickly, I don’t want to get it onto a table. So, I just attach the handle and I can still use it one-handed or have my sister hold it.
- Speaking of sisters, this is so easy to use that sometimes my sister will just do it for me. She doesn’t knit, doesn’t crochet, and has nothing to do with yarn. But she likes to use it.
- It keeps my stash CLEAN and my yarn takes up less space! This is the number one reason to get this ball winder.
This picture above is one of the drawers of my storage system. Normally, it would only hold 5 in their hank form, but I can fit twice as many this way. In fact, I had 2 more that I took out so you could see how one layer looked.
This ball winder is amazing. I’ve had it for about 6 or 7 years now, but it looks brand new. After I finish a project, I just wind up leftover yarn using this and it’s taken care of. If I get new hanks of yarn, I rewind them into cakes. Then I can use them or store them for later. Any time my stash gets out of hand, this is the first thing I use to manage it. You need one of these, and you can get it here.
If you’re interested in some of my other tools, check out this page for everything I use for knitting and crocheting. Later this month, I’m also going to be showing you how I organize, store, and maintain my yarn stash. Everything about my storage and organization will be in that post, so sign up to the newsletter and you’ll get an email when it’s up!
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