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Each new year brings a brand new crop of email in-box questions from brand-new MDK Field Guide subscribers. Most of them are about shipping and most of those are all already answered on our Returns & Shipping Policies page, of course, but we answer them again anyway! It’s a challenge to not make them sound like pre-written copy-and-paste answers (which, surprise!, they mostly are, since we answer them all the time), but we give it a shot anyway.

With those new subscribers comes a wave of first time orders as well (yay! and thank you!), and by far the most common question associated with those orders is “will you please wind my yarn?” Well, no, we will not.

Ann and Kay are on record as inveterate and devoted hand-winders. I split it up, using an upright oak squirrel swift my dad made for some commercial yarns and hand-winding the more rustic ones or yarns that are new to me. Hand winding gives me a chance to familiarize myself with the personality of the yarn and deal with any knots (three cheers for spit splicing!) before they crop up in the middle of a stitch.

In any event, I can’t imagine who on earth we could get in here to wind yarn for customer orders. We can barely find someone to go get the very important sweet cream flavored Chobani coffee-creamer and I assure you: that matters waaaaay more. I’m trying to imagine the employment ad Ann and Kay would have to place for the position of yarn-winder. “Wanted: eager beaver with enormous biceps, willing to forever lose the use of both arms. Occasional tacos.”

We ship hundreds of skeins of yarn per day. The scale of that precludes a regular human—even an eager beaverish, enormously bicepped one—from being able to get it done, even if we charged for it. My sister once owned a mobile yarn shop and whenever I accompanied her on longer trips, I got drafted to be the yarn winder (cost to my sister: six empanadas from the Salvadoran food truck). By empanada time each day, my arms were numb and I was barely able to form my fingers into any of the many many gestures I use them for, but mainly just the one. YOU KNOW THE ONE.

And look, I know. You’re all thinking, “Ugh, I hate to wind yarn.” But it’s all part of the hobby, like weavers have to warp their looms and joggers have to, I dunno, tie their shoes or whatever. I mean: I love Thai food above all other cuisines but I sure hate to do all the prep when I make it at home. I made homemade pad thai three years ago and I am STILL finding chopped peanuts in the odd nooks and crannies of my kitchen. But I DO the prep because if I DIDN’T, I’d have just a HOT BOWL OF STEAM for dinner.

Do the prep. Wind the yarn. It’ll be great for your biceps.

TL;DR: we don’t wind yarn, sorry.

(Editor’s note: the yarns featured in Field Guide No. 26: Moss are pre-balled for your convenience.)

About The Author

DG Strong took up knitting in 2014. He lives in Nashville with his sister, her rat terrier and a hound dog named Opal. He has a blog of drawings and faintly ridiculous rambling called The Psychopedia—there are worse ways to spend your afternoon.


  • This is hilarious!! What a great way to start a winding yarn Sunday!!! Thanks, DJ

  • Brilliant article! I agree, winding yarn is part of the hobby

  • This is the very first thing I opened on this dreary Sunday morning. Maybe other places are as dreary as Central New York, but anyway, it’s dark and it’s dreary. I wanted to just send a heart emoji and leave it at that, but I haven’t had enough coffee to figure out how to do that on my laptop.

    So, thank you! This was lovely and very funny.

  • I actually enjoy the process of winding my yarn by hand also. . . even those sweater quantities!

    • Me, too. I enjoy winding yarn. I actually think it’s fun.

  • I used to wind yarn by hand with my husband holding the hank open. Too often we would end up with a tangled mess. I decided to invest in an Amish swift and a good ball winder which made all the difference. If I put on a good playlist or podcast while winding, it’s a good time to look forward to! Bonus entertainment for the cat …he is mesmerized by the swift!!

    • I love winding my yarn as I have the same set up. Makes it quick, easy and fun. I even tell my friends to come over and wind if needed!

  • When I was a child —when dinosaurs roamed the earth—I went to convent school and the nuns would have us wind their yarn—in class! One girl was the “swift”, holding the skein taut, and the other was the ball winder. Needless to say, being the winder was the more highly prized task and a role to aspire to. Imagine a modern-day school allowing such a thing!
    Surprisingly, I don’t mind winding yarn by hand.

    • Funny! I went to a Catholic school (but no nuns) in Scotland in the olden days. The teachers would have us do things like that during the day. The upper classes learned practical skills like knitting during the school day. I had a hard time adjusting to American schools when we returned–everything was so geared towards the 3 Rs.
      I don’t mind winding by hand, but I get much fewer tangles with my swift and cake winder. Very meditative.

  • I love to wind yarn except when my cats are involved- it’s meditative. I mean without cats. By the way DG you are a National Treasure!

  • Winding yarn by hand is so relaxing. Yes, it does give you the chance to become intimately acquainted with the yarn before casting on.

    I have a confession to make. Hand-winding has helped me keep my sanity during tedious hours of online training for work. I would setup my laptop at the kitchen table, have a few skeins of yarn ready to drape over a nearby chair, hit play and wrap away until it came time for questions. Happy to say I always passed with flying colors. Never dozed off, not once.

  • Thanks for making me LOL! I am sooo lucky, that my hubby loves to wind yarn for me… I need to learn how to do it by hand – I can see how it would be relaxing and yes you learn a lot about the fiber.

  • I’m with you, DG – squirrel cage swift (mine’s walnut) and ball winder for some, hand wound for others. My handspun I always ball up by hand. All part of the process!

  • Made my morning. So funny. Love winding.

  • I love winding yarn! I have decent biceps, get to watch tv, sit, and like the meditative process of seeing the ball grow and the skein slowly disappear. I know if there are knots, learn whether the yarn is likely to be “sticky” if there is to be unknitting at some stage, and I love seeing the various colors, if there are any. I’m also good at untangling badly tangled yarn, as several knitting friends know. (think unruly pets) So, it’s all very satisfying. Like finishing a great knitted project. Heart emoji! Thanks for the fun article!

  • Your message is wonderful. Makes everyone happy and giggles. There is one comment below about winding in class. Well yes, my mother would have me as the swift and man my arms were exhausted. When I started knitting I found the swift. I still can have an argument or two and need to wind by hand. Not my fav, but it will do.

  • I never never ask to have my yarn wound for all the reasons DG recalls but my favorite one is that it reminds me of my mom because we used to wind many many skeins together She was a beautiful knitter and it was time together that is cherished

  • Oh I love reading your posts. Thanks for the laughs and all of your other contributions. DG you are so talented.

  • Besides you really shouldn’t wind your yarn until you are ready to use it. Back in the day you always wound your own yarn, having the shop do it wasn’t a thing. My friends think I am weird that I wind my own yarn by hand. But it is part of the process of knitting.

    • I also read somewhere that the ball winder can stretch the yarn, so I wind with the hand ball winder so I can make certain the yarn stays loose thoughout the whole process. I’m not sure the electric ball winders can do that.

      • I find that the ball winder makes it a bit tight (stretched) so I wind it a second time and it’s just right.

  • I love to open packages of purchased yarn, grab my needles, and get knitting. Much praise for the shops that do wind – even if they charge to do so. I have the entire set up – proper fancy winder and gorgeous wooden swift, as well as wee folk eager to do winding when they visit – and many podcasts to listen to when I allocate a winding session. But my preference is always to be knitting. First, last, and always. But I do wish I knew about the nuns’ practice of student winding when I taught in a Catholic school – could have been useful.

    • Exactly! I’m capable of winding my own yarn and have the necessary tools to do it, but I love to be able to start knitting as soon as I have the yarn, so cheers to the ships that will indulge me!

  • Who would guess you could take a boring chore (boring to me anyway) and make it so entertaining! Loved today’s post! Thank you!

  • I wish I’d had an audio version of this blog post when I was hand-winding a couple of skeins yesterday. I hand-wind if it’s one skein and hand-wind the first skein if I’m winding several of the same yarn; that way, we get introduced before spending so much time together. Thank you for another delightful post!

  • DG, you are so right about doing the prep work for your hobby. Ball winding is part of the process for the journey of knitting/crocheting. A good swift and ball winder don’t wear out and are there when you need them.

  • I really agree that the winding is such a important beginning of the project! I get to understand the feel of my yarn and my yarn gets to know me before any potential swearing, tears or frustration!! My deceased ( and thrifty) husband is the one that convinced me that I didn’t need a swift because he would help! He was great at stopping a tangle before it took over! Now that he is gone, I still love the process and the memories!
    DG, your comments made me laugh out loud! It was a very nice way to start my anniversary day!! Thanks for that!

  • I have been hand winding my yarn forever; I didn’t know you could have others do it! I consider it part of getting organized for the next project and enjoy it. Thanks for an entertaining start to the day DG!

  • Something to add to the MDK shop; tee shirts that say ‘Will Wind for Tacos’.

    • Hilarious! Although I suspect DG would be wary of such a t-shirt.

  • I enjoy winding my own yarn, even when it’s just an acrylic.

    Plus I keep buying striped & variegated, so winding it myself gives me a comforting false sense of what it will look like worked up

    (I am never right lol)

  • I don’t mind winding yarn. I see it as the start of my knitting project and it’s satisfying to watch the number of yarn cakes grow. With a swift and yarn baller it doesn’t take much time.

  • DG, your articles are hysterical! I totally agree and love winding my own yarn. I used to do it by hand, but about 10 years ago I invested in a ball winder & swift and really love watching the color & texture of the yarn as it spins around.
    Keep putting smiles on our faces!

  • DG, thank you for the funny take on winding yarn! I happen to love winding my own, because it means I’m casting on something new and it’s exciting! It is definitely part of knitting for me. Also, you’re giving me ideas…❤️
    I want to thank you so much for your help on getting the yarn for the Blanket of Joy. My friend is in love with the yarn and has already cast on and knit three stripes (she’s a quick knitter) and keeps gushing about the colors. Many, many thanks for helping me bring her joy!

  • I love winding my own yarn. I watch the colors, the body of the yarn take shape and it provides me with the opportunity to picture that yarn as the sweater/cowl/hat it will become.
    Just my yarn though….not thousands of skeins!

  • I don’t mind winding yarn but I REALLY do want a squirrel cage swift.

  • Hilarious! Chobani sweet cream makes everything better, and now I want empanadas.

  • Cannot stop laughing! So True!! Thanks for the morning cheer:)

  • I have a ball winder, a swift, and a small child who absolutely loves when I pull out the aforementioned equipment. The biggest challenge is trying to keep up with said small child’s pace on the ball winder. When I’m the one turning the handle, the swift requires no management. When the child is in charge, it is a Project. (If anyone cannot envision it, imagine how the swift behaves when the winder alternates between 60mph and sudden and random stops.) But we’re making memories along with the tangles, right? It’s fine.

    • My 4-year-old niece always wants to help with winding, and the starts and stops are an issue. The real problem, though, is when she suddenly wants to change the direction on the handle of the ball winder. Oh Lordy the mess and tangles!

  • Being a former LYO, I have a swift and yarn winder at home which I use to wind my yarn. My left hand touches the yarn as it goes from the swift to the winder….love the feel and it gets me in the mood to think about the upcoming project…find it meditative. I can also listen to music or podcast while doing so. I find out a lot about the yarn as slides through my fingers.

  • I always wound my yarn by hand, the skein draped over my knees. I enjoyed it, called it part of my yarn therapy. Then I started to have back issues so at the age of 69 I treated myself to a swift and winder! Oh my goodness, what fun! No regrets! I’m like the aforementioned cats, mesmerized! Thanks for making me laugh!

  • I do own a swift and ball winder, but I just purchased a yarn turtle and can’t wait to give it a try. I find winding yarn quite meditative until I come to an annoying knot.

  • Sorry, not sorry but after a few years of knitting, I asked for and received an electric machine that I use for most of my winding needs.

    It can be set slow enough to wind most spun yarn including mohair. If I’m working with skeined minis of 10 grams, I’ll just open the skein on my lap and hand wind into balls. It’s rare that I need to break out the hand-cranked winder anymore. My arms thank me!

  • I know this post was meant to be amusing, and I’m not suggesting that anyone take offense where no offense is intended, but it came across as a little judgy to me. It’s okay for people to not wind their own yarn. They might have physical issues that make it difficult—I have shoulder issues, and if I hand-wound all my own yarn it’s quite possible I would not physically be able to knit. I am lucky to have been able to treat myself to a nice ball-winder (my first inexpensive one was incredibly frustrating), but not everyone may be able to. It’s also perfectly okay for people to just not enjoy winding yarn and wish to take advantage of the service when it’s offered. It’s okay for people to ask if MDK provides that service, as many yarn suppliers do. It’s okay to get to know your yarn in a different way, like swatching, or to just dive in with your pre-wound cakes because that’s what you feel like doing.

    Creating community around the things we love is helped by accepting that not everyone has the same way of doing things, and that something that is important to one person may not be important to another.

    • I agree. This opinion piece rubs like sandpaper.
      Someone new to the hobby might not have all the equipment, and prefer to receive yarn that is wound for use.
      Maybe they don’t have the money to spend on a winder and swift, and this yarn is a special treat for themselves.

      I wound by hand and threw away hanks of yarn because they were irreparably knotted when I first started out.
      And when you’re struggling just to afford the yarn, having to throw it away because you’ve cut it so many times that it’s now worthless is extremely demoralizing.
      In my area, only big box stores carry yarn, and it’s all really cheap acrylic stuff. If a customer is making the effort to buy quality yarn, they don’t deserve further insult by insinuating that they don’t appreciate the gift unless they’re willing to spend an hour or more winding it before using it.

    • thank you for so eloquently expressing my thoughts which I hesitated to express having been burnt by not agreeing a while back that knitting a temperature blanket was something worth doing. I also did not find the essay particularly amusing but a bit sarcastic.

      • I’m in the same boat. I re-read the post with what you said in mind, and wow. Thanks for saying something. Gave me a lot to think about. It was an honest and reasonable question, a quiet and kind answer would’ve sufficed.

    • BTW: was not AT all replying to Andrea S.

      In case you anyone needs to know: I hit the wrong reply. That’s how hard I was laughing.

      Have a good day all … no freakouts necessary.

      Her post has nothing to do with my tickled bone.

      Peace y’all … be good

    • oh, I’m *DEFINITELY* judgy. You should see the list of other things I have thoughts about: tacos, empanadas, etc. But I do think some people get a pass if they’ve been winding yarn their whole lives or have some other extenuating circumstance. I mean: I can change my own oil but it’s occasionally nice to not do it. As someone mentioned above, though, it’s not great for yarn to be wound too far in advance, and finding someone to do it for you multiple times
      on the fly might be a challenge — so it helps to figure out a way to embrace it, I think.

    • Still laughing!!!
      Thank you thank you thank you!!!!!!!

  • Bwaaaa!
    “…bowl of steam for dinner”

    • Still laughing!!!
      Thank you thank you thank you!!!!!!!

  • Winding yarn builds character.

    • I do both. But, since my winder and swift are currently buried in a workroom in transition, I’ve been hand winding. I open up the skein and put the loop around my iPad, which has a keyboard and sits up at an angle. Easier than a chair back and I can do it on a table top. There’s usually a cat on my lap enjoying the process. It takes a while, but is kind of meditative. I think everyone should do what works for them, physically and financially.

  • I have an ancient Swedish swift that has had every join repaired, and I have no idea how many ball winders I’ve had. Last year I treated myself to a beautiful cherry wood table winder and it is much easier on my arthritic wrists. The end result is a lovely yarn cake.

  • I vividly remember when I bought my first winder at a Cambridge ma yarn store long since closed. The store owner happened to be winding and gave me a great tutorial on how to wind well. 20 years later I still use the same winder and swift.

  • Yarn turtle? Squirrel swift? Squirrel cage swift? Sweet cream flavored Chobani coffee creamer?
    I have so many questions…
    Google here i come.

    • Glad I am not the only one who doesn’t know what those things are! I have an umbrella swift, which is the most common kind. Maybe a squirrel one is the kind with 4 arms?

  • I actually enjoy winding yarn, even if it’s a 100g skein of cobweb lace. My husband made me a beautiful polished wooden wind-y stick (can’t remember the name but it looks a little like an, um, adult toy. I listen to an audiobook and take my time getting to know the fiber’s personality. I do that weird thing they talk about and let the yarn tell me what it wants to be, or what it doesn’t (even if that’s what I bought it for). Glad to know I’m not the only one!

    • A nostepinne. A stick will do, one winds around in a figure of eight way, the result is a neat oval put-up.

  • You mentioned the yarns for the Field Throw are already wound. I recently opened the box of the yarns for the throw kit (early birthday present to myself) and was delightedly surprised by the fat plates of Plutolopi. How cool are those! I wish it came in lots of colors. I can hardly wait to start in.

    • Oh oops. I see that now the page offering Plutolopi does now have lots of colors. Very nice ones at that. Excellent.

  • Back in Olden Times there were LYS that would do the winding for you if they had the time, but anyone who really knits must bite the bullet, get a swift and winder, and do the work. Your Apple watch will be so proud of you! The last time I did a big yarn winding, I wound about 7,000 yards, and beat all exercise records on my watch!

  • I had a vision of Popeye the Winder Man. Tacos are his spinach! Hilarious.

    For years I wound yarn by hand with a chair and a prescription bottle. One day I realized that I just knit TOO darn much for this. (Kay and Ann hand wind?! Boggles the mind.)

    Anyway, my swift and Lacis winder now live happily together and spend a lot of quality time as a threesome.

  • When I feel godawful and just can’t knit, but really want to, at least I can wind yarn and still feel that I’m doing something that’s part of my knitting. Sometimes by hand, sometimes with my ball winder but always from a swift. Being with yarn in any way is always comforting.

  • Just yesterday I gave myself an early Valentine’s Day gift…a lovely new ball winder!! Beautifully crafted!!! It hugs even my slippery blends like merino and silks. First up though was pure Atlas Wintergreen! I too like to know my yarn but as I get older my hands need to be saved for the knitting not wrapping the yarn into a ball. So I wind mechanically once then twice— very slowly to inspect the yarn. So glad I learned to wind twice. I think it relaxes the yarn more. A well made ball winder is an investment in pure delight!

    So for another skein of Atlas I’ll bring my winder and come donate a half day of winding at MDK…I’ll try the Nashville empanadas too! I like them with a spicy vege tucked inside that perfect crimp!

  • Once you get to a certain level of knitterdom, you get a swift and ball winder, and Bobs your uncle. ❤️

  • I need to test this creamer. I invested in a swift and winder. Magical. And also I find them beautiful.

    • Although I still wind by hand (force of habit, and I enjoy it), I had a powerful impulse to get one of the squirrel cage swifts that DG’s dad made, while they were available at Haus of Yarn in Nashville. I’m so glad I did. They are just beautiful objects.

  • What’s this now? Chobani makes coffee-creamer?!

    • Yum…all flavors…I find hand winding yarn to be mindless & calming. Helps me stay focused; not distracted.

  • Very funny and so true! Love the article — even though I came here looking for winding advice about those unspun yarns. Wind by hand, I know, but any other advice? I have some Manchelopis I’m hoping to turn into a shawl this year, and if I like knitting with it, I suspect I’ll want all the unspun yarns. Anyway, since the latest MDK Field Guide has patterns with Plötulopi, maybe you should give us a little how-to article with some tips and tricks for using unspun and having a joyful experience. Aimee Sher uses a lot of unspun in her designs and personal knitting. She might have some thoughts to share.

    • The Field Guide gives a few tips on working with Plotulopi, and I bet we will all come up with more tips as we knit with it and learn its ways.

    • Sit tight! We got you. A plötulopi post is coming soon.

  • Thanks for such a fun read. I enjoy winding yarn and have several different gadgets to help with it but sometimes I just toss it over the kitchen chair back and stand and wind by hand

  • First, I think DG should receive a raise, in honor of his status as a Knit-Writing National Treasure—so many laughs!

    Second, reading all the wonderful comments above makes me think of new projects for MDK:
    —an online class (for $) on the intricacies (and joys) of winding yarn, including a demo by Ann and Kay of the Zen of Hand Winding;
    —an online show-and-tell—and maybe reviews–of the wide variety of types of equipment one can use to enhance one’s winding practice;
    —and, since you know by now that many of us are helpless in the face of possible enhancements of our knitting-related stashes—not just yarn, but bags, needles, t-shirts, hats, measuring thingies, etc—you can add swifts (Amish! Squirrel Cages! my fave from the Oregon Wood Worker, etc), yarn winders in varying price ranges, maybe even electric gizmos, and other winding goodies. Audio books and podcast suggestions optional.

    • Any chance you could give us the name of the woodworker in Oregon?

    • Mary Anne, a yarn swift (my table one) from Oregon Woodworker was on my Christmas list many years ago – I’m so glad to meet someone else who has one and loves it.

      • I sure do! And he does provide a lifetime warranty—a year or so ago, one of the”sticks” that attach to the winder arm. I emailed him and received a lovely note, then a complete set of new “sticks”!

      • That’s where I obtained my gorgeous cherry wood table winder. I love it-the yarn can be more loosely held (as opposed to my Swedish shift) and the yarn cakes are soft and squishy

  • Though I don’t love winding yarn, I do it, because very often it’s the only way to start knitting something I want to make. And I do love knitting things. One or two skeins may or may not be by hand. Sweater quantities always with my table swift (on the counter) and a very old Royal ball winder. But I DO love the thought that MDK ships far too much yarn to be winding it for us. THAT is good news for everyone.

    I do miss the days I had kids at home begging to (somewhat unhelpfully) help. But it is good for my biceps 😉

  • I bought a swift and winder when I started knitting lace – winding those 400+ yard skeins always managed to mess up at the end no matter what chair, doorknob or even my knees I used. But my mother (she who taught me to knit) used to get my father to wind for her … my Husbeast and sobs would roll their eyes!
    But by hand us a good way to get the feel of the yarn.

    • Sons.
      Auto incorrect changed that to sobs? Hmm

  • Winding yarn skeins as you need the yarn is truly the thing – back when I had a shop I would offer to wind the first skeins so the client could start right away with the knitting. As we travel now by plane, automobile and boat I don’t carry a swift much less winder (no extra space — need it for the yarn). Winding by hand is a great way to get to know your yarn – is it sticky or slick – makes a difference in the finished project. I enjoyed the read this am.

    • Plus I think winding as needed breaks up the tasks at hand nicely.

  • I like winding yarn just like I enjoy starting tomato plants from seed and picking those ripe beauties from the vine. It’s all part of the process.
    Though I must say, my husband is very thankful I have a yarn swifter! And he enjoys those tomatoes too!

  • I have found that I can use hand winding as a meditative calming process. The most recent ball I wound was in the parking lot of a hospital, waiting for a stressful appointment. Something about running yarn through my fingers brings my heart rate and stress levels down.

  • My sister and law and I made a few joint knitting purchases to share and this has worked out so well. These include: Amish swift, ball winder, blocking wires, and three Amy Herzog books for solid go-to reference patterns. These have been a great shared tool box.

  • Handwinding the yarn is foreplay.

    • You are SO right!

  • What an enjoyable read this morning! And educational too…in 55 years of fiber crafts, I’d never heard of a squirrel cage swift…what a handy piece of equipment! I enjoy hand winding yarn and have tried quite a few approaches to a tidier ball or cake – I like using a nostepinne. I’ll also pull out my umbrella swift and ball winder when the situation calls for it.

    • I’d never heard of, less seen, a squirrel cage winder until I saw one in action at a workshop @ MDK. It’s impressive.

  • My goodness, who knew such strong opinions existed regarding yarn winding…
    I mostly don’t wind at all and prefer to knit directly off the skein, draping it over a chair, towel stand, my shoulders, sometimes a tabletop swift.
    Mr Strong, I am amused and very much enjoy your contributions to MDK and hope to meet you in person at some point. You are quite a wonder and you make me laugh. Your clever wit is much appreciated : )

  • ❤️

  • SURPRISE!!! I was a yarn winder in a weaving shop when I was 18 (50+yrs ago)…I worked for a new spinning wheel they had in the shop. It was young, I was strong, I learned a lot and I got my first spinning wheel to boot! I stayed in that shop “earning” weaving & spinning supplies and taking classes for quite a few years. Great, great experience! Now, I use a beautiful swift (my husband bought me because he took my cheap one for winding his fly fishing line) and wind by hand, getting to know my new yarn and taking care of knots…Cheers

  • I love winding my yarn!! I really think of this as the beginning of my project and a way to get to know the yarn!! Like are there any hidden breaks in the yarn so I can strategically place the breaks!

  • I bought a swift (metal with plastic tube-like things over the struts or whatever you call them; Japanese writing on the box) and New Wool Winder many years ago, and have many times thanked myself for making the investment. I like to wind yarn and will occasionally do it for others.

  • Yay DG! I am a hand-winder myself. I don’t mind because I find a rhythm and a mind altering calmness as I go. I can “feel” the yarn and it puts me in just the right frame of mind to get going on the new project!

  • I like winding yarn. I get to look at it and feel it before I use it.

  • I love to wind yarn. My daughter loves to wind my yarn. I don’t get many chances. I’ve never heard the “I-don’t-like-to-wind-yarn” litany before. I was so surprised.

  • I’m a hand winder, but I use a bell-shaped lamp shade as my ‘swift.’ Years ago I read a comment of a knitter who did this and have been thankful ever since! I loosen the screw at the top, slide on the skein, and away I go.

  • For those in our knitting group that don’t have a ball winder, one of the group would hosts a wine and wind party every so often. Especially after a yarn shop-crawl trip. Good times!

  • I love the humor! Thanks. Winding yarn is part of the organic process of creation.

  • Will totally wind yarn for yarn. My biceps could use the work out.

  • So, my husband the mechanic and engineer wants to attach a power drill to my yarn winder for efficiency and speed. I’ll let you know how it turns out.

  • Back in the early 2000’s, my daughter and I “shared” an umbrella swift and ball winder purchased from Harrisville Designs. Unfortunately, due to the fact that she lived in NH and I lived in NJ, the set up was ALWAYS in the wrong state when it was needed. I finally gave up, gave her the current set and bought myself a new (duplicate) set. Fast forward a few years, and we now live next door to each other in NH. We share many things, but we each have our own winding set up and no one has to run through the woods to borrow one!

    I’m happy to wind one skein of non-sticky yarn by hand while watching the news, but more than one or any Shetland type yarn and I’m off for the winding station, gratefully.

    Barbara M. In NH

  • I used to wind my yarn using the back of a large chair or recliner, and I thought I was doing super for years. Except when my dogs would come in unexpectedly and you can guess. My yarn would get off the back and tangle! Then I invested in a yarn Swift! I love it! Best invention like popcorn!

  • I think that winding yarn by hand can be meditative. However, I’m missing the empanadas…

  • I actually like winding yarn, but not for 8 hours a day, day after day.

  • To DG – Shawn Michael Miller of Holland, Michigan, past Animation Manager for Google
    on youTube, etc. has hacked this account, it appears. He is known as a Romance – Military Scammer on Social Media
    and the internet. If he encounters you on Social Media or the internet, he will woo
    you by being very nice and polite. Once he thinks he has your respect, he starts hitting you up for money. All he is interested in is your money and he is very selfish
    about it. He has scammed women out of thousands of dollars and he hides it in
    real estate. He has created thousands of fake facebook and instagram accounts on
    the internet using thousands of fake names. He is relentless and will never stop
    bugging you. He is an imaginary, creative and very good at his scamming efforts and very dangerous. He works at night. That is why you have so many early morning posts. Beware and be very cautious of this cat. He is a narcissist and smartass and
    technically very saavy and
    relentlessly looking for people to scam on the internet by being friendly. Beware.

  • To – DG It appears this account has been hacked by Shawn Michael Miller
    from Holland, Michigan. He was a Animation Manager with Google in various
    roles including youTube. He now is with Apple Softhouse and Wi Fi manager of
    Music Choice and more. He is known as a Romance and Military Scammer on
    the internet, specifically, Facebook and Instagram, and more. All Shawn Miller
    is interested in is money to invest in real estate. In the beginning, Shawn will be
    very friendly for long periods of time and make you think he is a very nice person
    until he gains your trust , then, one day, he hits you up for money and from then
    on, he is relentless about it. He will put your name and telephone numbers on a Robo Call List from his Call Directory and it is forevermore unending for hom to harass and bully his contacts if one shows dissatisfaction with him and his
    activities and reports him to Apple Security. This cat is a mess and physcic so
    beware of his tactics. He works all night so he is into everybody’s business while
    they sleep. He is creating accounts from names of my contacts and my family and friend’s contacts and a lot of his comments are early in the morning, although, not all. Beware of him because he can be very dangerous and he can
    be very sarcasstic and make snide remarks as well. He creates fake scenarios
    when he writes and spends tales within tales. Jan

  • Hilarious and so,so true. I for one love winding my yarn. It’s all that you say and more — it’s the beginning – the chance to get the feel of the yarn, imagine the knitting of it, thinking about the finished project, and in the case of hand dyed and gradients, appreciating the unfolding of the colors, noticing color anomalies, thinking about placement in the garment and so on. It’s all part of the fun of the project — winding, casting on those first stitches, knitting along, right down to binding off that last stitch and appreciating your creation.

  • winding the yarn is how you become acquainted. Good for both you and the yarn

  • I love to hand wind! And my 3 year old daughter is in that beautiful but brief stage of “I help you” so she likes it too!

    Side tangent: a knitter friend loves to untangle knots. Yes, I know, this sounds like a myth. But truly, I can take her wads of tragic tangles and she ENJOYS picking them out. Says it’s meditative. LOL

  • Even though I have a swift and ballwinder, I hang the skein around my neck to wind by hand. First I hold on by a tie and shake out the skein to loosen it and make sure the yarn is aligned. There are rarely tangles and I become familiar with how it behaves. I tried using a nostepinne but could never achieve a true ball.

  • My husband refuses to allow a ball winder or swift in our house. He holds the yarn form me as I wind it, just as he did for his mom and, as I did for my mom when we were children . It’s a ritual of bonding for us and holds many precious memories both old and new.

    • Awww, that’s just lovely. Thanks for sharing!

    • That is lovely! I’m a hand winder, but I use a swift (or my knees). My husband encourages my hobbies, but does not participate 🙂

  • I’m definitely on the hand winding is fun team. Plus it is a great activity while watching a new movie ( for those of us who have to look at our yarn).

  • Great article! I personally own multiple swifts and ball winders, and occasionally wind yarn for customers in my store. I most definitely need to see every yard of yarn I wind, in order to prevent potential issues that could be lurking in those skeins. And every time I’ve had a LYS wind a ball for me, it’s wrapped too tight.

  • I’m with those who like hand-winding. It helps me get to know the yarn. And, hey, I’m touching yarn when I hand-wind, so what’s the problem !?

  • I sometimes have my yarn shop wind my yarn. With one bad hand and one worse hand I would rather spend my time knitting than winding yarn

  • Would love your Pad Thai recipe!

  • 100% agree. I love winding my own balls. First, for some reason the flat “cakes” of yarn really bug me. I hate the word “cake”. It isn’t cake – it’s yarn! I love getting to know the yarn when I hand wind it. I love the anticipation of knitting with it. And I love the break where all I have to think about is winding – no dropped stitches, no worries about gauge. Just me and the yarn! Hand winding is the way to go!

  • Thank you DG—save your fingers for writing and gesturing!

  • DG maybe you have a hobby but I have a craft that I engage in every day.

  • A long time ago I fell in love with a motorized ball winder from Nancy’s Knit Knacks. I saw it at a yarn store in Victoria, BC. It was a long time before I had the space but now a NKK ball winder is set up in our family room. Right now I have a cheap metal and plastic swift that seems incongruous with the beautiful wooden ball winder.

    I think winding the yarn is a crucial stage of the project. It’s when I really get to know the yarn and also I find out how many knots it has. I do love winding my yarn now.

  • When I was a little girl I was recruited to help my mother wind her yarn. I figured out a way to make it a smooth process by (a) draping the yarn between my two hands, thumbs protruding, (b) making sure the yarn was draped without any twists, (c) anticipating my mother’s winding moves by swinging my hands back and forth and rotating them slightly so that the yarn always headed in my mother’s direction. As an adult, I saved for and bought an umbrella swift, and then a year later I bought a ball winder. It takes 4 minutes to wind a 200-yard ball and is really quite soothing. I do them one at a time, so I don’t have to worry about any unsightly muscles developing.

  • I am ng out loud. Also fondly remembering my Dad, at 93, suffering from spinal compression fractures but still wanting to be useful, wound all my skeins. Perfectly. Then my lys owner asked him to wind her skeins. We both still have skeins he wound and he’s been gone 13 years. Now I have a ball winder but still think of my dad every time and wish he was here. Winding skeins or not.

    • “Laughing” of course. Silly autocorrect put in an emoji then took it out!!

  • Ashford Electric Ball Winder. I’ve never looked back.

  • I love to wind the yarn and if any kids are around (adult kids included), it’s amazing to turn. However, I get it. Doing it all day long for hundreds of skeins would be hard. Thanks for this article!

  • Still totally cracking up.

  • You are so right, DG. Do the work, or have a bowl of steam for dinner — it’s up to you.

  • Concurrence from The Cult of Personal Responsibility. Put in the work and wind your own damn yarn! (Unless of course you are physically or equipmentally unable to do so, then ask a knitting buddy or try your YLS.) Like other parts of knitting, I enjoy winding. It’s meditative and sets you up for better work: the mis en place of knitting!

  • Love my swift and ball winder! Occasionally, I will hand wind a skein, and my forearms remind me that the winder is great.

  • I’m not about to wind yarn for anyone else (apart from my mum and husband), but I do find it rather pleasing to get the swift and the winder working in harmony (harmony punctuated by swear words when the yarn decides to wind itself elsewhere, and so on). And you’re right, it is a good opportunity to spot the knots in yarn before you knit with it. Your comment about every hobby having sucky bits (I’m paraphrasing) is true for gardening (weeding) and dressmaking (cutting out). Why are the sucky bits so often at the beginning?

  • I’m always a little hesitant starting a new project. The gauge is done, the size highlighted on the pattern but there’s just a bit of trepidation. Winding the yarn is the perfect procastivity. Something needed is getting done but I haven’t had to put any brain energy into it quite yet. Thanks for witty “NO”.

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