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Yarn Swift & Yarn Ball Winder Video Tutorial | Yarn Basics 101

Welcome! In this yarn ball winder and yarn swift tutorial, you will learn what a yarn swift and ball winder are, and the different ways you can use them to:

  • Organize your yarn stash.
  • Create balls of yarn from a twisted hank
  • Different ways to use a yarn swift and winder.

You may be asking yourself what a yarn winder is? Or what is a yarn swift? A yarn winder and yarn swift are two different things entirely, but they work in harmony to create an easier way to store your yarn.

Before we get down to it, if you want pattern support for my free patterns, stitch tutorials, or just want to chat, join my pattern support group below, and be sure to sign up for my mailing list (I do not spam, I promise).

Yarn Swift and Yarn Winder

What is a Yarn Winder?

A yarn winder, (also known as a yarn ball winder) is a tool that creates a center-pull cake of yarn, or a “ball” of yarn by grabbing the yarn from an umbrella swift or other type of swift.

What is a cake of yarn? What is a ball of yarn?

Check out this post on 7 most common styles of winding your yarn 🧶.


Ultimately, a yarn winder is fun! It creates a center-pull cake of yarn, making it extremely easy to take partially used skeins or hanks and organize and store them easily.

What is a Yarn Swift?

A yarn swift holds a hank of yarn, where you thread it onto the yarn ball winder and like magic, turns it into a center-pull cake of yarn!

The swift pictured in this tutorial is called an umbrella swift.

Another fun use for a yarn swift is you can turn a skein into a hank, then wind it back into a cake!

LOL 😂 This all sounds so confusing, but it is not as bad as it sounds! 💖

Skip to Video

Yarn Swift & Winder Step-by-Step Guide

Step 1: Secure Yarn Ball Winder to Table

Yarn ball winders come in many different sizes and materials. I purchased these from Etsy (affiliate link). There are plastic and metal versions too.

Yarn Ball Winder Tutorial Yarn Winder

Step 2: Secure Yarn Swift to Table

Position the yarn swift fairly close to the yarn winder.

Yarn Ball Winder Secure Swift to Table

Step 3: Untwist Your Hank and Place it Around Swift

Untwist the hank and gently place it around the swift, holding onto it as you expand the swift with your right or left hand.

Yarn Ball Winder Tutorial Put Hank on Swift
Yarn Ball Winder Expand the Swift

Step 4: Secure the swift

After you expand the yarn swift, tighten it at the level and tension you find comfortable.

Yarn Ball Winder Tutorial Tighten Swift

Step 5: Untwist the Hank

This part can be a little tricky. Sometimes the hank is twisted a bit, so it’s best to unwind a few turns of the swift to see how easy it will come off the swift and whether or not there are any snags.

The way I do this is as I pull the loose tail and the swift begins to turn, I untwist the yarn so it comes off easily. After you finish untwisting the yarn, gently turn the handle on top of the swift and wind the loose yarn back onto the swift.

Yarn Ball Winder Untwist The Hank

Step 6: Secure the Loose Tail

The inside tail needs to be secured or it will tangle as your swift turns. I played around with this a little and find winding it around one of the spokes works best. You can also use a clip.

Yarn Ball Winder Tutorial Secure Tail to Swift

Step 7: Thread Outside Loose Tail onto the Yarn Feeder

This one is a little tricky, but the video below will help you if these photos do not suffice. To start, hold the yarn with your left hand on the left side of the threader. Starting below, coming up from the bottom, wind the yarn around the coil until it looks like the photo below.

Another option would be to use a darning needle and thread it through to the other side.

Twist yarn into spiral holder

Step 8: Place Yarn into the Grooves on the Yarn Winder

Place the yarn into the grooves, leaving a 3″ (8cm) tail. This will become the center-pull of your cake.

Yarn Ball Winder Tutorial
Yarn Ball Winder Tutorial thread into winder

Step 9: Gently Begin to Spin the Winder Clockwise

It’s time to start winding! This is the fun part. Start slowly, turning the winder handle clockwise to get it started. When you feel like it is evenly winding onto the winder, you and go a little faster.

Pro Tip: Use your free hand to add a little more tension and prepare for any knots in the yarn which will hang up the process.

Yarn Ball Winder Tutorial Turn Winder Clockwise

Step 10: You are Finished!

Now it’s time to take it off the winder and enjoy your new cake of yarn! Secure the loose end, and if you want to add a label you can (recommended).

I take the outside paper of the skein and roll it into a tube and put it inside the cake. Other ways to label the cake are using a tag purchased from Etsy here.

Yarn Ball Winder Tutorial Thread into Hook
Yarn Winder Tutorial Remove the ball

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How to Use a Yarn Winder & Swift

Thanks for stopping by! Hope you have a great day!

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