The Best Yarn Winders of 2022

Organize a messy yarn collection and create easy-to-use yarn cakes with the best yarn winders for knitters and crocheters.

By Jasmine Harding | Published Jun 23, 2022 1:07 PM

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Best Yarn Winders

Photo: amazon.com

Yarn winders are useful tools for knitters and crocheters, making it simple to turn other yarn ball types into yarn cakes. Yarn cakes are a favorite among crafters; they have a center pull (where the yarn unwinds neatly from the center), and their shape allows the user to sit them on a tabletop while working or to stack for storage.

Yarn winders offer a simple and affordable way for crafters to wind their own yarn cakes and are a convenient tool for anyone who frequently works with yarn. A good yarn winder is affordable and easy to use, and it winds the yarn smoothly and neatly. Ahead are the best yarn winders for hobbyists and fabric artists.

  1. BEST OVERALL: Stanwood Needlecraft Compact Yarn Ball Winder YBW-A
  2. BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Knit Picks Yarn Ball Winder
  3. BEST LARGE-CAPACITY: LAMXD Needlecraft Yarn Ball Winder
  4. BEST HEAVY-DUTY: Stanwood Needlecraft Large Metal Yarn Ball Winder
  5. BEST PORTABLE: Knit Pro Ball Winder
  6. BEST SET: Olikraft Yarn Winder (with Umbrella Swift) Set
  7. BEST ACCESSORIES: Butuze Yarn Ball Winder
  8. BEST WOOD: Knitter’s Pride Signature Series Mega Wool Winder
  9. BEST NOSTEPINNE: Nagina International Nostepinne Rosewood Yarn Winder
  10. ALSO CONSIDER: Lacis Jumbo Yarn Ball Winder
Best Yarn Winders

Photo: amazon.com

What to Consider When Choosing the Best Yarn Winder

Yarn winders have a rather simple job: to wind yarn. However, they come in a few variations to suit different preferences. When shopping for a yarn winder, consider manual versus electric operation, material, the desired yarn cake size, and setup and use. These factors will help crafters determine the best yarn ball winder for their needs.

Manual vs. Electric 

Most yarn winders for home use are manual, with a hand crank to wind the yarn. These winders are suitable for the average hobbyist because they’re easy to use and affordable. Using a manual yarn winder is a hands-on process requiring crafters to crank the winder and control the yarn tension. However, one benefit of this process is it gives users more control over the yarn. Another old-school option is a nostepinne, a traditional type of manual yarn winder that is essentially a large wooden stick.

For more serious hobbyists and yarn spinners or dyers, it may be worth the investment for an electric yarn winder. These machines cake the yarn at the flick of a switch—no cranking necessary. Electric yarn winders are a convenient alternative to manual options, although they come at a higher price.

Wooden vs. Plastic

Yarn winders come in wood or plastic options, with plastic options common. Choosing between the two materials comes down to style, budget, and durability.

One main reason some shoppers choose wood is for its aesthetic. Many wood yarn winders are handcrafted with an attention to detail. If the yarn winder is kept on display in a craft room, a polished wood yarn winder generally looks nicer than cheaper plastic options.

Besides looks, a well-built wooden yarn winder tends to be sturdier than plastic types. Plastic snaps more easily and can become brittle over the years, whereas polished wood can last decades. However, wooden yarn builders tend to come at a premium price that doesn’t appeal to many hobbyists. For this reason, plastic yarn winders are more common. They are easier to find and tend to be more affordable. Some plastic yarn winders include metal or nylon pieces to boost durability.

Desired Size of Yarn Cakes

Each yarn winder has a maximum capacity ball it can wind. Generally, users can expect that the larger the yarn winder, the larger the capacity. A larger capacity is suitable for working with chunky yarns and creating larger yarn cakes.

Most consumer yarn winders can handle the average 100-gram (3.5-ounce) skein. Larger options can handle up to 280 grams (or a 10-ounce yarn cake), and there are even jumbo versions to wind up to 450 grams of yarn. Very large commercial yarn winders are also available. Users should consider the general size of the yarn they will be working with, as well as possible future needs. Since larger capacity yarn winders also tend to be larger, take storage space into consideration as well.

Easy Setup and Use

A good yarn winder is easy to assemble so crafters can get to winding right away. Many yarn winders have a built-in clamp to attach the device to a table. When using those with wider worktables, crafters should make sure the clamp will open wide enough. The best yarn winders have a simple-to-use clamp with nonscratch padding to prevent damage to tabletops. Some larger yarn winders just sit on the tabletop; look for a sturdy base for these types.

A good yarn winder has a smooth and even winding process. Many will include features such as an easy-to-use crank handle, a comfortable grip, or an onboard directional guide for ease of use. Look for well-reviewed yarn winders from reputable brands to ensure a pleasant setup and use.

For those who frequently buy yarn hanks (which come as a loop of yarn rather than as a ball), it’s useful to buy a yarn winder and swift set. A yarn swift can help turn hanks into a ball of yarn: It holds the looped yarn so it doesn’t get tangled on itself in the winding process. Users can hand-wind a ball from the yarn swift or pair it with a yarn winder to cake the yarn.

Our Top Picks

The best yarn winders ahead simplify turning yarn balls into yarn cakes to make it easy to organize a yarn collection, ready yarn for crafting, and split or combine yarn balls.

Best Overall

The Best Yarn Winders Option: Stanwood Needlecraft Compact Yarn Ball Winder YBW-A
Photo: amazon.com

Several features make the Stanwood Needlecraft Compact Yarn Ball Winder YBW-A the best yarn winder for both beginner and experienced crafters. Stanwood is known for its high-quality knitting materials, so it’s no surprise that this yarn winder is another well-designed and sturdy product.

This model is Stanwood’s improved quieter and smoother version of its older yarn winders. A sturdy plastic build makes this yarn ball winder an affordable but long-lasting option. It can make up to 4-ounce yarn cakes and can clamp to tables up to 1.75 inches thick.

Other features include a solid steel crank that won’t snap, even with overzealous cranking. Rubber padding and a reinforced clamp keep the winder in place without damaging tabletops. A shrouded bobbin covers the smooth and quiet lubricated winding mechanism. This design means no gears are exposed, so yarn can’t get accidentally caught up while winding.

Product Specs

  • Capacity: 4 ounces
  • Clamp range: 1.75 inches
  • Accessories: None

Pros

  • Smooth and quiet operation
  • All gears are covered
  • Rubberized and reinforced clamp

Cons

  • Difficult access to internal parts for gear issues

Get the Stanwood compact yarn winder on Amazon or at Stanwood

Best Bang for the Buck

The Best Yarn Winders Option: Knit Picks Yarn Ball Winder
Photo: knitpicks.com

For novice crafters and infrequent users, an inexpensive yarn winder is likely the right choice. The Knit Picks Yarn Ball Winder is a budget-friendly yarn winder. Although affordable, it’s made from sturdy plastic and features an appealing white and purple design. This compact unit has a capacity of 3.5 ounces, which is useful for caking smaller skeins.

This yarn winder is great for beginners, with its low price and simple setup and operation. Setup is as easy as clamping the device to a table (up to 1.5 inches thick), twisting on the spindle, and positioning the feeder guide. Since the spindle and feeder detach and fold down, this winder is also very easy to store or take on the go. As a last major bonus for beginners, all gears are covered on this unit, which means it won’t accidentally eat up any yarn.

Product Specs

  • Capacity: 3.5 ounces
  • Clamp range: 1.5 inches
  • Accessories: None

Pros

  • Very affordable
  • Simple setup
  • Compact and easy to store

Cons

  • Plastic crank is less durable than metal options

Get the Knit Picks yarn winder at Knit Picks.

Best Large-Capacity

The Best Yarn Winders Option: LAMXD Needlecraft Yarn Ball Winder
Photo: amazon.com

A large-capacity yarn winder is necessary for winding larger yarn cakes. With a 10-ounce capacity, the LAMXD Needlecraft Yarn Ball Winder is an excellent choice for bigger winding jobs. This unit works swimmingly with a range of yarns, from fingering yarns to bulky yarn weights.

To handle heavier use, this winder features a sturdy metal and nylon construction instead of plastic. A cast-iron base and anti-skid protective rubber pads add to durability and ease of use, and the body is finished in a nonchip paint to keep the winder looking neat.

The winding mechanism features nylon gears, which are sturdier than plastic but quieter than metal gears. Lastly, an unbreakable metal crank ensures that this winder can hold up to the longer winding process required to make large yarn cakes.

Product Specs

  • Capacity: 10 ounces
  • Clamp range: 1.4 inches
  • Accessories: Sewing trimming scissors

Pros

  • 10-ounce capacity
  • Durable materials
  • Fast and smooth operation

Cons

  • Exposed gears
  • Clamp can damage tabletops

Get the LAMXD yarn winder on Amazon.

Best Heavy-Duty

The Best Yarn Winders Option: Stanwood Needlecraft Large Metal Yarn Ball Winder
Photo: amazon.com

A heavy-duty design makes the Stanwood Needlecraft Large Metal Yarn Ball Winder the best choice for frequent users. This yarn winder not only is durable but also has a 10-ounce capacity to handle small and large winding jobs.

Robust materials and reinforced parts lend themselves to this yarn winder’s heavy-duty design. This winder is constructed from 3-millimeter-thick steel with reinforced fasteners. Reinforced nylon gears and the lubricated metal crank make for smooth and quiet winding. The body is finished with a rust-resistant powder coating to ensure longevity.

A shrouded bobbin helps to keep yarn away from the gears below. Although this yarn winder is a larger and heavy-duty pick, its toolless setup makes it a convenient choice. It can clamp onto tables and workshop benches up to 2.125 inches thick for flexible placement.

Product Specs

  • Capacity: 10 ounces
  • Clamp range: 2.125 inches
  • Accessories: None

Pros

  • Steel body with rust-resistant finish
  • Reinforced nylon gears
  • 10-ounce capacity

Cons

  • Pricey

Get the Stanwood large yarn winder on Amazon or at Stanwood.

Best Portable

The Best Yarn Winders Option: Knit Pro Ball Winder
Photo: amazon.com

A compact yarn winder is a great choice to take along to knitting and crochet groups and lessons—or to take on vacation for those who can’t go a day without engaging in their hobby. Not to mention, smaller models are easier to store. The Knit Pro Ball Winder is a portable and lightweight choice for crafters on the go.

This affordable yarn winder weighs less than 1 pound and measures about 11 inches tall (from top to clamp). It’s made of plastic, contributing to its light design. Setup is easy, since users just pull out the feeder and clamp the unit to a table. Although Knit Pro does not share the capacity of this winder, reviewers note it can handle the average 3.5-ounce skein.

Product Specs

  • Capacity: N/A
  • Clamp range: N/A
  • Accessories: None

Pros

  • Lightweight and portable
  • Easy to use
  • Creates tidy yarn cakes

Cons

  • Full plastic build is less durable

Get the Knit Pro yarn winder on Amazon or at Hobbii

Best Set

The Best Yarn Winders Option: Olikraft Yarn Winder (with Umbrella Swift) Set
Photo: amazon.com

A yarn winder and swift set is a useful buy for many knitters and crocheters, especially those who work with yarn hanks, and the Olikraft Yarn Winder (with Umbrella Swift) Set is an affordable choice.

The yarn winder is a relatively standard offering with a plastic build and sturdy metal crank. A rubberized clamp helps it to attach to tables and counters up to 1.75 inches thick without slipping or scratching.

The yarn swift is made from stainless steel and also includes a rubberized clamp to fit tables up to 1.75 inches thick. Both pieces are designed for easy setup—coming together in less than a minute so users can get to winding right away—and both come apart for easy storage.

Product Specs

  • Capacity: 4 ounces
  • Clamp range: 1.75 inches
  • Accessories: Yarn swift

Pros

  • Includes a yarn winder and swift
  • Affordable
  • Easy setup and storage

Cons

  • Metal swift feels flimsier than wooden alternatives

Get the Olikraft yarn winder set on Amazon or at Olikraft.

Best Accessories

The Best Yarn Winders Option: Butuze Yarn Ball Winder
Photo: amazon.com

This yarn ball winder from Butuze is an affordable option, and with a range of included accessories, it offers even more value. Along with a compact yarn winder, this set includes various small accessories, including 12 stitch markers, six yarn needles, and seven cable needles (three center scoop and four J-hook cable needles). The affordable price and wide accessory range makes this set the ideal choice for many beginners.

The yarn winder itself is also easy to use. Made of plastic and with a durable metal crank, it creates tidy and small yarn cakes. Although Butuze doesn’t share its exact capacity, it should handle an average 3.5-ounce skein. This device is also a compact option that is easy to carry and store.

Product Specs

  • Capacity: N/A
  • Clamp range: 1.5 inches
  • Accessories: Stitch markers, yarn needles, cable needles

Pros

  • Very affordable
  • Includes several useful accessories for knitting and crocheting
  • Durable metal crank

Cons

  • Clamp does not include rubber protective parts

Get the Butuze yarn winder on Amazon.

Best Wood

The Best Yarn Winders Option: Knitter’s Pride Signature Series Mega Wool Winder
Photo: amazon.com

Wooden yarn winders aren’t only more durable than plastic options; they’re also visually appealing. The Knitter’s Pride Signature Series Mega Wool Winder is a beautiful handcrafted yarn winder for those looking to splurge on a winder that is as attractive as it is useful.

This yarn winder is made of natural and laminated birch wood. Colorful accents add even more visual interest to this winder. Besides its looks, it’s also a smooth-winding choice because of its antifriction bearing. A table clamp and anti-skid rubber pads keep this large winder in place. The larger size also contributes to this model’s larger capacity, and it can handle up to 15 ounces of yarn.

Product Specs

  • Capacity: 15 ounces
  • Clamp range: N/A
  • Accessories: None

Pros

  • Durable wood construction
  • Beautiful handcrafted design
  • Antifriction bearing for smooth rotation

Cons

  • Expensive

Get the Knitter’s Pride yarn winder at Amazon, Michaels, or Target.

Best Nostepinne

The Best Yarn Winders Option: Nagina International Nostepinne Rosewood Yarn Winder
Photo: amazon.com

Bringing it back to basics, using a nostepinne was a traditional way of winding yarn before  modern yarn winders came along. For those who prefer this old-school yarn-winding process, the Nagina International Nostepinne Rosewood Yarn Winder is an excellent choice.

This nostepinne is a beautiful tool, made of deep rosewood with a water-resistant polished finish that displays the wood’s gorgeous natural grain. Gripping grooves make it more comfortable to hold while winding yarn. Despite the no-frills design, this nostepinne can still be used to make center-pull yarn balls. Measuring 11 inches long and 0.5 inches wide, it’s portable and easy to store.

Product Specs

  • Capacity: N/A
  • Clamp range: N/A
  • Accessories: None

Pros

  • Beautiful wood construction
  • Comfortable handle
  • Lightweight and sturdy

Cons

  • Slower than hand-crank yarn winders
  • Harder to control tension and yarn ball uniformity

Get the Nagina International yarn winder on Amazon or at Nagina International

Also Consider

The Best Yarn Winders Option: Lacis Jumbo Yarn Ball Winder
Photo: amazon.com

The Lacis Jumbo Yarn Ball Winder is another excellent large-capacity yarn winder for those who wind larger yarn cakes. Made of plastic and with metal guides and a metal crank, this ball winder is a strong choice for caking large skeins up to 8 ounces. Unlike some other large ball winders, the plastic body covers the gears on this unit to prevent winding mishaps.

Like many other yarn winders, the Lacis Jumbo has a convenient table clamp to secure the winder in place. This winder requires a few extra setup steps with a yarn guide and a swing arm, but these parts help to control tension and create a neat yarn cake. Unlike some other yarn winders, these extra pieces disassemble for storage, so this is an excellent option for crafters who are tight on storage space.

Product Specs

  • Capacity: 8 ounces
  • Clamp range: N/A
  • Accessories: None

Pros

  • 8-ounce capacity
  • Disassembles for easier storage
  • Plastic housing covers gears

Cons

  • More assembly steps than comparable options

Get the Lacis Jumbo yarn winder on Amazon or at Joann

Our Verdict

The Stanwood Needlecraft compact yarn winder is reliable, easy to set up, and pleasant to use, making it our best overall choice for most crafters. Although it’s a bit smaller and less durable, the Knit Picks yarn winder is a less-expensive alternative that will still get the job done.

How We Chose the Best Yarn Winders

We considered more than 25 products to narrow down the best yarn winders for most crafters. Through extensive product research, we found the best smooth-operating and sturdy options for knitters and crocheters.

We looked at the winder design as well as shopper reviews and included winders that are easy to set up, pleasant to use, and reliable, paying mind to features such as easy-crank systems, simple directions, and nonslip and nonscratch clamp design. To ensure a durable construction, we prioritized winders from reputable brands.

Since preferences can vary from user to user, we chose a range of yarn winder types, from compact to portable to heavy-duty to large-capacity. Lastly, a yarn winder shouldn’t break the bank, so we also paid attention to price when choosing the top yarn winders.

The Advantages of Owning Yarn Winders 

Although hand-winding yarn can be meditative, it’s hard to match the convenience of using a good yarn winder. Using a yarn winder is faster than hand-winding and easier on the hands and wrists. Yarn winders tend to create a more uniform yarn ball than hand-winding can, all with minimal effort.

A yarn winder not only simplifies the winding task but also creates a center-pull yarn cake (where the yarn feeds from the center of the ball), which is one of the easiest yarn ball types for knitters to work with and keep organized. Since yarn winders are also affordable, with some options starting at around $20, they’re a must-have tool for crafters who frequently wind yarn.

  • Faster and easier than hand-winding
  • Places less strain on the hands and wrists
  • Creates a uniform yarn cake
  • Affordable

Tips for Using the Best Yarn Winders

Using most yarn winders is fairly straightforward. If the yarn winder has a table clamp, start by attaching it to the edge of a table. Placing a piece of cloth between the clamp and the table can help prevent damage (but make sure the fabric isn’t slippery). Pass the yarn through the feeder and attach it to the winder at the top of the spool. Once the end of the yarn is secure, it’s time to crank.

It’s best to start slowly when winding the yarn to ensure it is winding correctly. Users can speed up the process as they get more comfortable, but should take care not to go too quickly to prevent the yarn from getting caught on any part of the winder. Use one hand to turn the crank and the other to control the tension of the yarn going into the feeder. Try not to tense the yarn too much: This can stretch out the yarn fibers and affect how the material performs when it’s time to knit or crochet.

  • Clamp the yarn winder securely to the side of a table; a nonslip layer can be used to ensure the clamp doesn’t damage the table.
  • Start slow and steady when winding the yarn.
  • Use one hand to crank and one hand to feed the yarn.
  • Make sure not to stretch the yarn too much while winding; too much tension can affect the performance of yarn.

FAQs

A yarn winder is a useful tool to have on hand for those who do a lot of fiber crafts. These tabletop gadgets make preparing yarns simple. Although a yarn winder is pretty easy to use, we’ve compiled some frequently asked questions to help crafters decide if a yarn winder is the best choice for their needs.

Q. Do I really need to buy a yarn winder?

A yarn winder is a worthwhile buy for those who frequently wind yarn at home. They are faster and more convenient, and they require less effort than hand-winding. They’re also affordable and create easy-to-use center-pull yarn cakes.

Q. Should I buy an electric or manual yarn winder?

For most casual hobbyists, a manual yarn winder is the better pick since they’re more budget-friendly and straightforward to use. More serious hobbyists (especially yarn spinners, yarn dyers, and those who wind a lot of yarn) can consider an electric yarn winder.

Q. Does winding yarn save space?

Yes, winding yarn into yarn cakes can save space and help keep a yarn collection tidy. These flattened yarn balls are often easy to stack to make the most of storage space.

Q. What’s a yarn cake?

A yarn cake refers to yarn wound on a yarn winder into a cake-like shape. Yarn cakes are cylindrical with a flat top and bottom, which makes them easy to work with and store. One main benefit of yarn cakes is that they can be worked from the outside or from the center when knitting or crocheting.

Q. Do I need to buy a yarn swift?

It depends. For crafters who frequently work with yarn hanks, it helps to have a yarn swift. A yarn swift is designed to hold the yarn hank to keep it tangle-free and easier to wind into a yarn ball.