It’s not always bad to be wrapped tightly. Hand winding yarn can be time consuming and tedious, and often the hand wound skeins will roll around and fall apart. As an alternative, yarn winding machines get the job done quickly, creating centrally drawn flat-bottomed balls of yarn that stay in place while knitting or crocheting. These handy devices usually clamp onto a table and have a hand crank that you can turn to feed and wind yarn onto an attached spool. Wrapping yarn prevents it from becoming tangled while you work and is a great opportunity to inspect your yarn for knots or weak spots so you can fix them before you start your project. A must for beginners and experienced knitters alike, a yarn winder is a smart buy. Browse our roundup of the best below.
1. Stanwood Needlecraft thread bale winder
Many modern ball winders have a similar appearance, with an angled plastic spool that sits on a small table pedestal. In our book, the best model you can get with this space-saving design is this one from Stanwood. It is solidly constructed to tolerate vigorous winding and has a steel crank and metal wire arm to assist the yarn as it feeds onto the bobbin. The winder’s gears are enclosed in a plastic housing to prevent jamming, and rubber padding on the bottom protects your work surface when the winder is set up. This device can hold up to 4 ounces of thread and operates with quiet clicks so the job gets done quickly and without tangles.
2. Knitter’s Pride Natural Series ball winder
If your budget allows, you should invest in a wooden yarn winder that is nicer and more environmentally friendly than a plastic design. We like this one from Knitter’s Pride, which is handcrafted from natural birch wood and not only winds up gently but also silently. It also looks different from the most popular models and features a long wooden base that supports a spool and a horizontally oriented hand crank. The wood is composed precisely and splinter-free, so that the yarn rushes smoothly through all components. Wind up to 1 pound of yarn at a time with this attractive device.
3. Lacis Jumbo ball winder
Many plastic wrappers have a 4 ounce capacity, like our top pick. If that’s not enough to meet your knitting needs, go big and get a jumbo. This machine can wind up to 10 ounces of material at a time – it can even get as high as 1 pound depending on the weight of the thread – and collect everything neatly on a durable plastic cone. Its swing arms maintain constant tension and at the same time prevent the yarn from becoming tangled when the device is wound up, the clamp remains tight while the work is being carried out and the gears run smoothly.
4. Butuze twine bale wrapper
This little table clamp winder is smaller than the rest on our list but can still wrap around 4 ounces of yarn. It’s made of plastic and is a great, affordable choice for anyone new to knitting who may not be ready to invest in something a little more sturdy. Sure, the components feel a little less sophisticated than the more expensive picks, but the handle rotates smoothly (albeit with noticeable popping noises) and maintains stability during the winding process. Yarn won’t slip out of your arm either. It comes with several stitch markers and needles.
5. LAMXD ball roller
The speed of a twine winder depends on how fast your hand can turn the handle, and this one can really pick up turbo cranks. Its frame is sturdy, its crank is secure and its gears are made of steel. This shapely construction allows you to turn the arm at top speed without compromising stability, tension and order. The only downside is that it makes some noticeable noises. This winder can hold strands of up to about 7 ounces, depending on the weight of the thread.