swifts and ball winders

Are there good and bad ball winders and swifts out there or are they pretty much equal? I went to ArtFibers during lunch and bought 800 yards of Zhivago to use to make my very first sweater.... While I generally love and prefer winding by hand, this might be a little much!

Can anyone suggest a good bang for my buck type product? Thanks in advance!

MMario's picture

I comprimise - I use the swift; but I haven't unboxed the ball winder I bought at the same time over a year ago.

MMario - I'm not divorced from reality - we're having a trial separation

Asbjörn's picture

I haven't bought either just yet but I posed a similar question on Ravelry and received quite a large number of replies. It seemed the general consensus favored the ubiquitous Royal brand ball winders. As far as swifts, it seemed the majority bought wooden swifts from various sources. I did get a valuable tip for buying them however, if you go the Joann Fabrics website www.joann.com they often have coupons on the front page (40% or 50% off one regularly priced item for example), they change frequently. They carry the Royal ball winder and wooden swifts (apparently of good quality), and the price after the coupon can't be beat. _____________________________


Bill's picture

you could come to MondayNightKnit...and I'd bring my swift and fabulous WOODEN ballwinder! LOL

Crafty Andy's picture

Visit Crafty Andy's Blog The wooden ball winders are the best and most expensive, the Joann.com deal is not a bad idea. I have done that myself. Instead of a swift I sometimes use the Ironing board, my boyfriend or the back of a chair to hand the yarn on it and the use the winder.

Tallguy's picture

A ball winder and a swift are invaluable. The best tools one can have. There are just so many uses for it.

The ball winders have gone up in price a lot in the last few years, but are still the best thing you can get. Very handy to have.

A swift is good too, although you can get by without one, but not very well.

Winding by hand is not good, since you are adding or removing twist with each rotation. This can be crucial with some yarns.

These are the best tools I have, and appreciate them every time I use them. Put them on your Christmas wish list!

YarnGuy716's picture

I echo the invaluable need for a swift and ball winder. Plus once you have worked with a center pull "cake" of yarn off of a ball winder a center pull ball will never be good enough.

I have the Royal Ball Winder, my second one in over 20 years. Still using the same umbrella type swift that I got way back when. If it ever breaks or I just feel the need to replace it, I would go with a wooden one. There are plenty of DIY swift instructions out there. Going the range of pvc piping to "Tinker Toys".

teejtc's picture

I have a cheap (mostly plastic) ball winder. I only use it when I buy yarn in hanks and find it indispensable when that's the case. A swift would (literally) save me 80% of the winding time, but I don't have one yet... someday!

Grace and Peace,

crmartin's picture

I have a ball winder I bought from Jo-Ann with a 50% off coupon, I think I paid around $17 with the coupon. I bought a hand made oak swift on ebay for less than $20. I am very happy with both of them. I wind all my yarn (as needed) into center pull cakes and put them into a picc line bandage that keeps them intact.



TomH's picture

What do you put them in to keep them intact?

crmartin's picture

I put the yarn balls into a picc line bandage which is basically a tube of stretchy fabric used to cover a picc line (long term IV). My daughter gave me a bunch of them when she had a picc line for a bone infection.



Britisher's picture

I have a Royal brand ball winder, which is just fine, but I don't have a swift yet.

I use the low-tech answer to a swift: place the skein over the back of two dining chairs to stop it twisting or getting knotted, then unwind the skein a few yards at a time and wind it onto the ball. This is nowhere as efficient as using a swift, but it's fine if you only need to produce balls of yarn every once in a while. I learned very quickly that just trying to unwind a skein free-hand is a complete disaster.

The centre-pull balls that a winder produces are just lovely to knit from: the ball stays put, rather than rolling about as you pull the yarn towards you.

Andy's picture

re swifts, I had a couple of umbrella swifts, but found reaching into the middle to twirl them a pain. I then bought an Ashford windmill skeiner (can't remember the proper name) and find it the most useful and fastest.

"Midnight shakes the memory as a madman shakes a dead geranium."

Darrel's picture

I got the Royal ball winder and "The Legacy" swift. Sadly, though, the 400 yards of joy I bought at ArtFibers is a bit of a tangled mess and it's going to need to me a manual job... hopefully only partially. *groan*

I did wind up the other yarn I got at the retreat in to balls. My boyfriend was looking at me like I was crazy when I opened up the swift and attached it to our dresser... I don't think he'd ever seen one before!