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 Yarn winders and yarn swifts
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quiltflower
New Pal

USA
27 Posts

Posted - 10/29/2008 :  12:40:53 PM  Show Profile  Visit quiltflower's Homepage Send quiltflower a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I have knitted off and on for a good portion of my life but have never used a yarn winder or yarn swift. I was wondering if something could explain each one to me and the advantages of having one. From what I have read a yarn winder is for making center pull balls, but just wondering if you can keep a bigger skein of yarn all in one ball or do you have to make a bunch of little balls.
Thanks.

LJ
Permanent Resident

USA
1937 Posts

Posted - 10/29/2008 :  1:19:26 PM  Show Profile  Visit LJ's Homepage Send LJ a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Hi and welcome!

A swift holds your skein of yarn while it's being wound. Your knees, a lamp shade, the back of a chair, someone else's hands work too.

A ball winder does make center pull balls. I have wound 2000 yards of lace wt and 600 yards of sport wt onto a ball winder to make one ball. I think 300 is the most worsted wt I've needed to wind with a ball winder.

I purchased my swift after spending a week of evenings winding 1600 yards of lace wt yarn. With the swift it was about 5 minutes winding from the swift into a ball by hand.

Hope that helps.

Linda in Va



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AngieSue
Permanent Resident

USA
1606 Posts

Posted - 10/29/2008 :  2:10:18 PM  Show Profile Send AngieSue a Private Message  Reply with Quote
If you roll a tight or somewhat-tight ball of yarn, the ball winder is nice for making a loose ball. The yarn doesn't get stretched or thin. I have to admit that I'm glad I finally broke down and purchased a winder.

I don't have a swift, but would really like to get one. If the yarn starts getting tangled, it's a pain in the you-know-what. If you don't want to spend the money, here's a link to a home-made and pretty cheap version.

Angie
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Catlover
Gabber Extraordinaire

390 Posts

Posted - 10/29/2008 :  2:15:46 PM  Show Profile Send Catlover a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I bought a swift and a ball winder more than 30 years ago have used them often. I always think that they are one of best investments in kintting tools I've ever made. I love mine.
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sooterl@msn.com
Warming Up

63 Posts

Posted - 10/29/2008 :  5:02:13 PM  Show Profile Send sooterl@msn.com a Private Message  Reply with Quote
After 20 something years knitting I finally asked for a swift and ball winder for my birthday last year. ...Best gift ever. I don't know how I made it so long without one.
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Sticks and String
Permanent Resident

USA
1113 Posts

Posted - 10/29/2008 :  5:26:04 PM  Show Profile  Visit Sticks and String's Homepage Send Sticks and String a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I bought a swift at auction a few years back for $5.00 (no one else even knew what it was, lucky me). I wound by hand for years off the swift. When a member of our knitting group bought a winder to go with the swift for all of us to use I realized that it isn't only convenient, it's fun and it makes storing balls of yarn easier because they are flat on the top and bottom and stack in the plastic bins I use really well. While I could live without either or both I sure love having them now.


Jo
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FluffyKnitterDeb
New Pal

USA
23 Posts

Posted - 10/29/2008 :  11:52:49 PM  Show Profile  Visit FluffyKnitterDeb's Homepage Send FluffyKnitterDeb a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I own both a winder and a swift...LOVE my swift, HATE my winder!

I have the cheapo plastic ball winder and I just don't like it, I'd much rather wind skeins on my nostepinde.

I only use the winder if I have a huge skein (like laceweight for a shawl)or to wind or many skeins (like for a sweater) but it's a gadget I could easily live without.

Now maybe if I had one of the really nice electric ones I'd find it more useful but I don't see that happening.

I do use my swift a lot tho, keeps the yarn tangles to a minium for me!


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knitaholic@hotmail.com
New Pal

1 Posts

Posted - 10/30/2008 :  01:40:12 AM  Show Profile Send knitaholic@hotmail.com a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Square circulars

i agree with the first lady - I have knitted for 80 years and as long as I have 2 chairs in my house i am fine. just put your skein taut over backs of chairs and you are away. These days its absolutely no trouble even if you haven't got got chairs!!! most wool comes in balls now! There is always an answer and no need to buy half the gadgets available - save during the credit crunch!!
Pat
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Jane
SustaYning Member

USA
4368 Posts

Posted - 10/30/2008 :  03:14:39 AM  Show Profile  Visit Jane's Homepage Send Jane a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I'm a knitter who has had a swift and ball winder as part of my tool kit for more than 30 years, and I wouldn't trade either one of them for the convenience, not to mention the efficiency of having a nicely wound ball of yarn to knit from. Most of the yarns I buy (or spin) come in skeins, not balls, so winding is a necessity. I've never been a fan of the knee or chair method, but that's just me!

Jane

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scarfitup
Chatty Knitter

191 Posts

Posted - 10/30/2008 :  03:46:38 AM  Show Profile  Visit scarfitup's Homepage Send scarfitup a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Funny, I had just thought about these tools as a potential gift (to myself), but honestly I find the process of winding yarn and even untangling it to be calming and soothing (and I am NOT a terribly patient person!) I use my knees, always have them with me, and can do it anywhere! More than I can say for some other things in life! LOL!

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daveywavey
New Pal

19 Posts

Posted - 10/30/2008 :  03:49:29 AM  Show Profile  Visit daveywavey's Homepage Send daveywavey a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I finally went out and bought a swift when I ran into some yarns that got so tangled when unwinding the skeins they turned into big knots. I took the skeins back to the store and watched them use the swift to easily wind balls. I can wind center pull balls by hand so don't need a ball winder. You can make a swift using tinker toys that can be disassembled and stored or travel. Copy and paste this link or google tinker toy swift.
http://www.folkcatart.com/blogs/jen/?p=742
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sockjoan
Warming Up

Australia
57 Posts

Posted - 10/30/2008 :  04:17:11 AM  Show Profile Send sockjoan a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I'm a spinner so a swift & ball-winder are pretty essential. I call the swift my "artificial daughter" - it's a lot more obliging than a live daughter. Anyway the daughters have long since left home, and hubby is even less enthusiastic about holding my wool than our daughters. I have two ball-winders, one which holds about 100g of yarn, and a "jumbo" one which holds much more. I also machine-knit, and centre-pull balls are a necessity for this. My nostepinne is improvised from an empty fax-paper roll, which works very well; I use one of these whenever the ball-winder isn't at hand - or when the skein is so tangled that the ball keeps needing to be passed through it during winding. But the ball-winder is kinder to the shoulders if you have several balls to wind.
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jan.hamby@gmail.com
New Pal

USA
10 Posts

Posted - 10/30/2008 :  04:52:31 AM  Show Profile  Visit jan.hamby@gmail.com's Homepage Send jan.hamby@gmail.com a Private Message  Reply with Quote
If you are knitting from yarns that typically come in center pull "skeins" (like Red Heart), you don't need a winder or swift...the skeins to which most of these posters are referring are those typical of what you buy in a yarn store instead of larger chain craft stores and dime stores. They are the more traditional skeins which are large roughly 36 to 40 inch loops of yarn gathered and twisted to hold their shape while up for sale. Before you knit them you need to release the skein from it's twist. You then have that big loop. I know one knitter who hangs it over her neck and then knits from there, but most of us would rather wind it into a neat center pull ball so it doesn't tangle each time we put it down and so that it will travel well.

You can hand-wind a center pull ball with your fingers or a nostepin, but a ball winder makes it FAR faster which is very good if you have a number of skeins to do. And you can use a partner's hands, your knees, the backs of chairs, ...whatever you like to hold the skein while winding. But again, for speed and ease, the umbrella swift is considered by most to be the winner.

Do you need a swift and ball-winder? No...and if your budget is tight, I wouldn't get them. But, if you knit from traditional skeins and you can afford it, I would get the ball-winder. And if you knit a lot, I'd get the umbrella swift as well.
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jenesei@comcast.net
New Pal

10 Posts

Posted - 10/30/2008 :  05:11:37 AM  Show Profile Send jenesei@comcast.net a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I LOVE my swift and ball-winder, but then I love all tools, as long as they are useful and work well. I keep both of them set up all of the time, in my guest room, so I can wind a ball quickly when inspiration strikes. They do cost more than most knitting tools, but they will last a lifetime. And measure that against the time saved compared to hand-winding. Maybe they even save me money, since I'm not waiting in the yarn shop for them to wind my yarn, meanwhile spotting more handpainted lace weight or cashmere I just MUST have . . .
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cwaigner


Posts

Posted - 10/30/2008 :  06:44:45 AM  Show Profile Send cwaigner a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I bought both tools when I began making sweaters and had more than a few skeins to wind. I gave my plastic umbrella swift away when I purchased a wooden, table-top model ---- essentially four horizontal arms with upright pegs that fit into holes in the arms to adjust for the skein length. I find that style much easier to use and store, since it disassembles easily. As a serious stasher, I agree with the poster who noted that the flat "cakes" made by the ball winder are easier to stack for storage. I believe I read somewhere that the yarn relaxes a bit when wound in this manner, since it "breathes" into the center hole.

Being a tool collector, however, I also have multiple cable needles, a tin full of beaded stitch markers, many sets of needles in different materials, etc. None of which are necessary, just as a swift and ball winder are not necessary. My MIL has been knitting for seventy years with few tools other than her needles, and she does lovely work. To each her (his) own ---- just depends what you want to spend your money on.

Carol in N Waldoboro ME
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Sticks and String
Permanent Resident

USA
1113 Posts

Posted - 10/30/2008 :  07:49:21 AM  Show Profile  Visit Sticks and String's Homepage Send Sticks and String a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Daveywavey...thank you for the link to the Tinkertoy Swift! LOVE this!


Jo
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ruthmel1
New Pal

United Kingdom
43 Posts

Posted - 10/30/2008 :  08:28:47 AM  Show Profile  Visit ruthmel1's Homepage Send ruthmel1 a Private Message  Reply with Quote
If you buy alot of skeins rather than balls and get fed up of asking someone to hold the skein whilst you wind it, or using the back of a chair then you need a swift and ball winder. I dont use centre pull balls from my ball winder I use it for ordinry outside pull balls, (whatever the terminology is!) Also as I dye loads of skeins of yarn I need my swift to re-skein.
My umbrella swift was epensive but well worth it ving many man hours and fights with tangled skeins

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v-allknit
Seriously Hooked

India
741 Posts

Posted - 10/30/2008 :  08:46:05 AM  Show Profile Send v-allknit a Private Message  Reply with Quote
i dont have any of the tools and here we dont get them in market.... may be i havnt looked for it but i am sure it will not be easy to find. i use a chair for swift and hands to winding the ball. once i had mohir to make a ball, i did it in shifts, made a ball of the skein in a week, havent knitted anything out of it as yet.

i like the idea of making it at home, but will give it a try when i get addicted to mohir or any other lace yarn


shruti



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Correna
New Pal

Canada
1 Posts

Posted - 10/30/2008 :  08:54:38 AM  Show Profile Send Correna a Private Message  Reply with Quote
A few months back the Yarn Harlot blogged about a knitter visiting their local SnB who was knitting directly from the skein wrapped around her knees. The amazing thing was that she did this by choice, and in fact did coloured strand knitting with the different skeins carried over her shoulders. She really disliked the look/effect of the yarn cakes that were produced by a ballwinder.
I bow down to her, cuz within minutes I would have a disaster in my lap and a lot less hair on my head. My swift and ballwinder are one of the best knitting tools to me for convenience and time, but clearly they are not necessary for successful knitting.
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MindyO
Permanent Resident

USA
2493 Posts

Posted - 10/30/2008 :  10:20:51 AM  Show Profile Send MindyO a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I am an absolute FREAK about messy yarn. I love my ball winder, best knitting tool since needles! While a nostepine is good for rewinding balls while attached to a project, or very small leftovers, nothing compares to the quickness of a ball winder. I wind all my skeins into neat little yarn cakes, knit with it then rewind the leftovers into a nice little neat ball I can easy toss into my drawer or, because of the flat top and bottom, stack!
I wish I had a swift, DH is supposed to be making me one for my b-day. That was mid September... he has the wood, but I don't have a swift yet. I can wind from a hank without the swift, but it's such a pain when something goes wrong and you have to spend two hours untangling the rest of your yarn. And way better than someone elses arms since a swift won't whine Are we done yet?

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Firecat
New Pal

4 Posts

Posted - 10/30/2008 :  10:36:46 AM  Show Profile Send Firecat a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I buy a lot of yarn at shows, and most of it comes in skeins. I was given a ball winder and swift last year. They really cut down on the time it takes me to change the skeins into balls.

I usually make the whole skein into one ball, unless the skein is REALLY large (the ball winder I have can make a ball about 6"-8" wide).

Firecat (on LJ and ravelry)
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