DIY & Crafts

5 tips for using a ball winder and swift

Canadian Living
DIY & Crafts

5 tips for using a ball winder and swift

I recently got back from a terrific visit to my parents' house. Besides the usual treats (lots of hugs, steamed crab dinners and fresh country air), I received a couple of early Christmas presents. True, they were gifts to myself, but I was just as excited to open them as I am on Christmas morning. Last summer, Austen wrote about the wondrous workings of the ball winder and swift. I had no idea that you could turn tangled hanks of yarn into tidy balls in no time at all. I figured it took four hands, a vast knowledge of curse words and ninja-like knot-untangling skills to produce a ball worth knitting. But it doesn't! How a Swift Works The swift works like an umbrella. You loop a hank of yarn over it, then push the centre piece up to tighten the yarn. (Back in the good old days, my dad acted as a human swift, holding the yarn between his outstretched hands while my grandmother wound balls of wool.)


How a Ball Winder Works

The ball winder turns the wool around and around a spindle, creating a pretty, perfect doughnut of untangled wool. You simply slide the end of the yarn through a tension pin, then through a slit in the centre of the spindle. Then you turn the crank, and the cone spins. It couldn't be easier.


These tools make the front end of the knitting process a breeze. Instead of days, it took me a couple of hours to turn this:messInto this:neat-and-tidy

I learned a couple of things as I was getting to know my new favourite tools. Here are some hints to help you make the neatest balls of yarn.

5 Tips for Using a Ball Winder and Swift

  1. Make sure your tools are far enough apart. My first ball was slumped and tangled because I set the swift and ball winder too close together. If you have room, clamp them to opposite edges of a table to make sure there's proper tension as the yarn winds.
  2. Untwist the hank on the swift. By turning the hank so the winding yarn is pulling off the outside, you'll prevent snags and frustration as you wind.
  3. Snip the ties carefully. Hanks are tied to keep the loops from tangling, sometimes in more than one place. Use small, sharp scissors to snip the ties close to the knot. Keep your eyes peeled as you snip so you don't cut into the hank (totally frustrating!).
  4. Turn at a moderate speed. Turning too fast or too slow can create a lumpy result, so get into a smooth, moderate rhythm as quickly as you can.
  5. Guide the yarn with your free hand. Let the yarn run through your free hand as you wind to ensure it's guided properly into the tension pin. This will keep out snags and give you a smooth ball of wool.
If you're more of a visual learner, check out this video demo from Knitting Daily TV. Scroll to 0:44 and watch the magic take place!


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DIY & Crafts

5 tips for using a ball winder and swift