Yarn Swift and Yarn ball windler: What would you do if you don't have them?

i just bought beautiful polyester skein, 4 in a package…1 skein is already cut because it’s knot everywhere…i don’t have ball windler and swift…and it’s my first turning knit yarn skein into a ball and i did it with difficult yarn…my second and third skein got balled safely, after i did it patiently, well managed, and ofcourse, after i learned this yarn…(it’s slippery and not light)…

i made ball by using drawer as a holder of the skein and my hand as a windler…

do you have any suggestion for doing this? any tips for specific type of yarn?
i read a blog that has instruction to make own swift…but still, i’m living in a very remote area…really-really remote area…so, i don’t know where to get those wood…


I use 2 chairs and and nostepinde.

Here’s a tutorial on how to wind a center pull ball. I use it all the time.
[Center Pull Ball](http://www.knittinghelp.com/dynamic/php/video/index.php?file=/bas-tech-more/center-pull-ball-rds.mpg)

I sit in a chair and use my feet(clean from the shower of course) to hold the hank and then roll the ball. Then I asked for a swift and ball winder for my birthday.

I got the swift first. you can still ball by hand, but the swift makes it soooo much easier. I just got the ball winder and the combination is great.

I’ve seen swifts made from lots of household things from the bottoms of office swivel chairs to lampshades, to lazy susans with a coat rack screwed on… maybe if you look at lots of pictures of how swifts work you could find objects where you are that would work?

it needs to be free standing, rotating, and have adjustable pins to stretch the hank on. my hubby got a lovely one off eBay that is wood, and folds up for storage and it wasn’t too expensive.


My DH is super sweet and occasionally holds the skeins and takes turns winding the balls with me. I’ve heard of using chair backs too.


anyway…i see that swift looks like umbrella’s structure…
is it?..may be i can recycle unused umbrella to do swift…only if it won’t break yarn :lol:…
i think of unused wheel but it can’t be adjustable…

swift is very expensive…even if i can buy it, i still have to pay high tax when it comes to my country…above 50us$, the tax will be implied…
yeah, i agree, swift must come first before windler…

I drape the hank around my knees (reclining on the couch works well for this) and wind a ball (which doesn’t pull from the center) around my hand. A ball winder is on my list for Christmas.

I’ve used the lampshade method (as swift). Works like a charm and the slope of the shade accomodates various sized skeins.


Very clever! W/o the thingy on top holding the shade in place it would spin nicely!

all right…lampshade method…i’m going to try it…sounds like a very good idea…thank you

anyway…i tried to do baller like in the video…oh dear…the yarn was stuck around my thumb…i just wanted to laugh at my self…i tried to keep it loose but i don’t know…i just got my thum tied my self in the end…may be i need more tips for doing this way…it seems a good idea, too…and easy…

i think i’ll keep doing my mother method of ball windler…i actually didn’t now how she did it, all i know that she did it so it’s look like round ball…a little bit harder to hold the balled yarn but my thumb will not stuck…another method i knew (i thought i saw it in this web too) is like making X sign around fingers with yarn…but i use it for shorter leftover yarn…

I use a paper towel tube to wind a center pull ball. First, I slip about 6 inches of the yarn into the center of the tube. Hold the tube horizontally and begin by slowly winding the yarn perpendicular to the tube until the end of the yarn is secure. You could also cut a notch in the end of the paper tube, but I thought it might be stronger and last longer if I didn’t. Once the yarn in secure, tilt the tube at a 45º angle (same as a yarn swift;))and continue winding the yarn vertically. Slowly twist the paper tube as you wind and a nice center pull ball will begin to form.

If people think this is helpful, perhaps I’ll take some pictures when I get home and create a brief tutorial.

I’m thinking of making my own swift using a hand mixer and turning some wood down on a lathe to make the part that holds the yarn, I just need to get motivated.

I use the yarn over knee method also! I sit up against my sofa while watching tv and then patiently go to work. I haven’t tried this yet but I heard you can take a empty roll of film canister (the plastic ones with the caps) and stick about 6 inches of yarn inside, close the cap and then start wrapping the yarn arround this and it will make it easy to pull out the yarn from center. You can also use an empty mini M&M’s container or a perscrition pills container.

For winding a ball, I use a tip I saw on the show “Knitty Gritty” when I am traveling and don’t have my swift and winder.

Materials - an empty pill bottle (like prescription drugs come in)
1.Thread the end of the yarn into the bottle. Screw or pop on the cap (depending on your bottle).
2.Then begin to wind the yarn around the bottle. I avoid the cap area of the bottle so I can easily remove the top later.
3. When I’m done, I remove the cap and take out my center pull end. Slide the ball off the bottle and voila - a nice center pull ball ready to knit with.

It’s also cited in her book

Sarah, we must’ve been writing our replies at the same time! :slight_smile:


I leave the finial on, just loosened, and that ensures the shade won’t fly off in cases where I have a bit of speed going. (That’d be a disaster!) Just have to make sure the yarn is spinning counter-clockwise as that ensures the finial won’t tighten (which it’ll do on its own if yarn is removed clockwise). I set the table lamp on the floor, propped to whatever height I need (couple phone books, my library size dictionary) and voila!


ah, so many suggestion…thank you so much again…

i also like those idea of using unused toilet paper tube…i’ve been thinking, what things i can use as a center…now i got this smart suggestion…thanks…i also like to sew…and sometimes (most of times, actually), i didn’t keep unused thread tube…now, i think i have to start collect them…
i really encourage you to make some illustration/demo to show using toilet paper tube…may be for some newbie, they won’t think too much about this…because they might buy ball yarn…but who knows, they got crazy about knitting or ‘accidentally’ buy skein, they can find a way to handle this skein…

i don’t even know i’m going to be in this trouble and it’s hard to find sources how to handle skein…and i hate it that yarn i like comes in skein…:cry:…well, anyway, sooner or later, i still have to learn how to handle this…now i know…knitter does not do just knit…they also do anything should be done on yarn…

yes, may be for me, using tube or other media will be more appropriate…because i’m really not good in using thumb…

i think using knee is a good idea…since our skin shouldn’t break the yarn…i’ll try this one also…

yup, i was thinking about using lamp shade…i imagine when i get too speedy…yeah…i can fly the yarn and that will be disaster…but i think it’s still a good idea…just have to find something to prevent flying skein when i get too speedy…

yup, i was thinking about using lamp shade…i imagine when i get too speedy…yeah…i can fly the yarn and that will be disaster…but i think it’s still a good idea…just have to find something to prevent flying skein when i get too speedy…

Nichan, to avoid the yarn ‘flying off’ pull/push down on the yarn as you remove it. Avoid working above the lampshade. If it…the lampshade…is even with your hands or higher, by pulling down you prevent the yarn from shifting up, and off.


Thanks for your tips and hints everyone!

Being a swift- and winderless knitter myself there are some great suggestions here! I’ve been using the thumb method (you have to be careful not to wind too tightly to get it back off) with the yarn in my lap or over my feet.

I love the lampshade method, but what do I do if the skein is too big? Can I double it up or will the doubled figure 8 prevent a smooth unrolling? :??

Going to check the full length of my beautiful sock yarn skein now… :thumbsup:

Ok, here’s my tutorial on making a center pull ball using a paper towel tube. You can find it on my blog here http://knitswithballs.blogspot.com/2007/07/how-to-make-center-pull-ball.html