Ball winder

Can you use a ball winder without a swift?

I am not too sure you can use a ball winder efficiently without the aid of some sort of swift; however, you can generally use a swift without a ball winder.

That being said, here is a thread showing how to make your own cheap swift.


I don’t use a swift with mine. I usually end up winding my balls by hand and then thread the winder as usual, drop my handmade ball of yarn on the floor and start winding. The ball bounces around my table and the dog thinks it’s strange. My two year old thinks it’s a giggle and he often helps me wind. I get a lovely center-pull yarn cake and I love my winder for that. If it’s not tight enough (which it usually is) I can send it through the winder again. I don’t bother winding into a ball first if I’m just winding up the rest of a skein that is no longer a nice shape. And, I don’t pre-wind into a ball if I’m frogging. That works just fine stripping as I wind. Does that help?

I don’t own a swift, per se. I do tons of recycled sweaters so wind directly from the garment pieces. When I need to wind from a hank, I use a large table lamp shade as my swift. Works like a charm…and it’s free.


If you do decide to purchase a swift (I didn’t think I could handmake one sturdy enough but didn’t want to pay $80 for an umbrella swift) I would suggest searching Ebay for “yarn swift” and get one of the ones that looks like an “X” that spins horizontally to the table. I got mine for around $30 including shipping and it’s easily “unscrewed” for moving somewhere or storing. It’s also adjustable in the sense that you can put the dowel pegs in the different holes for different sized hanks. I only have two complaints about mine…one is that it slides around a bit - very easily fixed by sitting on a silicone hot pad; and two, that it spins so fast that when I need to stop it sometimes a couple feet of yarn come off it! :slight_smile:

Thank you all so much! I just recently made a HUGE MESS out of my first hank and was sent a yarn “cake” and love it! I looked up the ball winders (surprisingly cheap) only to find that a swift was “needed” and was abou 70-90 dollars! GAH! Your ideas are wonderful! I will look into it before I EVER get another hank again! What is even the purpose of hanks anyway?! I don’t think I’ll end up getting it undone without cutting : (

I do not have a swift and when I have a hank I hang the hank off the back of a chair and put the ball winder onto my kitchen table. That or I hang it over my knee or have hubby help me. No matter what I do I get a mess.
I know Crafty Diversion has home made sift patterns on her blog. just google home made swift.

I’ve heard of some people sitting on the floor with the hank stretched out on both feet. They hold the ball winder in their hands and wind it up, wiggling their feet to let the yarn loose if necessary.