How to Make a Ball of Yarn With a Ball Winder

Balls of yarn
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  • 01 of 06

    Setting Up Your Yarn Swift and Ball Winder

    Setting up the swift and winder.
    Setting up the swift and winder. (c) Sarah E. White, licensed to About.com, Inc.

    Before you can wind a ball using a yarn swift and ball winder, you first need to set up your equipment. I like to use my dining room table for this purpose because it is heavy and sturdy, but I leave the tablecloth on to protect the tabletop from the clamps that hold the yarn swift and ball winder in place.

    To begin, slide the clamp at the base of the yarn swift onto your table and tighten the bolt. Do the same with your ball winder, placing them 12 to 18 inches apart (or further if you like).

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  • 02 of 06

    Placing the Yarn on the Swift

    Yarn on the swift.
    Yarn on the swift, waiting to be wound. (c) Sarah E. White, licensed to About.com, Inc.

    Probably the most complicated part of winding a ball of yarn using a yarn swift is figuring out exactly how to place the yarn on the swift. First, you'll need to unwrap the skein from the wound position you purchased it in and untie any places where the skein was tied together.

    Make sure that both ends of the yarn are free from the skein and there are no twists in the skein before you begin.

    Raise the knob-like part of the swift that's at the bottom of the pole and the arms will spread out...MORE like an umbrella (thus the common name for these devices -- the umbrella swift). Slide the yarn onto the swift and then adjust as needed.

    The arms need to be spread out enough so that they will hold the yarn skein in place when the yarn is placed on the middle part of the arms, what you might envision as the middle of the V formed by the arms.

    Once you have the arms in a good position for the particular skein you're winding, use the bolt on the knob to hold the swift in place.

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  • 03 of 06

    Connecting the Yarn to the Ball Winder

    Yarn attached to ball winder.
    Yarn attached to ball winder. (c) Sarah E. White, licensed to About.com, Inc.

    The yarn swift holds your yarn ball in place, and you could just use a swift to hold your yarn while you wind the yarn ball by hand. But a yarn swift is typically used in conjunction with a ball winder, which makes short work of turning your skein into a center-pull ball of yarn.

    Before you can start winding, however, you need to attach one end of the yarn to the ball winder. Slip the yarn through the metal yarn guide and into the notch in the plastic disk at the top of the winder. Now you're...MORE ready to wind!

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  • 04 of 06

    Winding the Ball of Yarn

    Beginning to wind a ball of yarn.
    Beginning to Wind a Ball of Yarn. (c) Sarah E. White, licensed to About.com, Inc.

    Now that everything's set up, you can begin to wind your ball of yarn. Slowly turn the crank at the back of the winder in the direction indicated on the instructions that came with your winder, and the ball will begin to form on the winder.

    Use your other hand to gently guide the yarn between the yarn swift and the ball winder, as it is easy for the yarn to get caught on one of the arms of the swift, causing the mostly plastic parts within your ball winder to strain.

    It's possible to break...MORE a ball winder if you put too much pressure on the parts, so keep it slow and gentle at first and make sure the yarn isn't getting caught on anything as it winds.

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  • 05 of 06

    Finishing the Ball

    A finished ball on the winder.
    A finished ball on the winder. (c) Sarah E. White, licensed to About.com, Inc.

    Just keep turning the crank on the ball winder and guiding the yarn off the yarn swift and you'll have a finished ball in no time. The swift automatically turns along with the ball winder to keep feeding yarn onto the winder quickly and smoothly.

    Once you get the hang of the operation, it's easy to wind a 50-gram ball of yarn in a minute or two, compared to the probably 10 or 15 minutes it would take to wind by hand.

    Both pieces of equipment are investments that not every knitter can make...MORE (or even needs to make) but if you buy a lot of yarn in skeins these tools are great to have at your disposal.

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  • 06 of 06

    Using Your Yarn Ball

    The finished yarn ball.
    The finished yarn ball. (c) Sarah E. White, licensed to About.com, Inc.

    Once you've wound the complete skein of yarn, just slip it off the ball winder. You'll notice that you haven't really made a ball, it's something a little flatter and that has a hole in the middle.

    The hole helps prevent you from winding the yarn too tightly, and it diminishes as the yarn sits or as you work with it in most cases.

    Now you have a ball of yarn that you can work with from the outside or use as a center-pull ball, which some knitters prefer. You could even knit with...MORE both ends at the same time if you needed to!