Yarn winding contraptions

Since the beginning of time, when early man (or woman) rolled a tuft of fiber against a thigh to form a strand of thread, there’s been a need for winding devices.

swift9… part of the fun of exploring a new craft is deciding whether you like it and want to delve deeper without sinking a lot of money in upfront costs. Also, improvising is fun!

Granted, early man’s output wasn’t great and could easily be wound around a rock or a stick by hand. Eventually inventions were invented, beginning with the conventional wheel eons later which made the spinning wheel possible, and yarn production increased.

Moving ahead to the middle and modern ages, roughly the period before the age of television, when everyman was a craftsman and turned to his workshop to handcraft well-honed and lovingly polished contraptions to simplify daily life.  From these early designs the modern yarn winders we fondly called yarn swifts emerged.

Many fine examples of vintage wooden yarn winding devices featuring hand-turned spindles and well-balanced turning mechanisms, sometimes called niddy noddies,  still survive.

Which brings us to today. There are plenty of  yarn winders available, both new and on Ebay. Modern manufacturers produce a number of fine models but part of the fun of exploring a new craft is deciding whether you like it and want to delve deeper without sinking a lot of money in upfront costs.

New materials and mass production have introduced objects made of plastic in every shape and size into our lives. With a little imagination, Google and duct tape, we can fabricate almost anything, including a solution to the yarn winding dilemma.

Below are a few examples of homemade yarn winders proudly posted on the Internet by innovative yarn lovers.

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There are any number of ways to wind yarn into skeins — all you really need is something that spins to which you can attach something that the yarn can be wrapped around.

Here’s one you can try at home…
winding 1

Attach a box, laundry basket or anything else that will work as a makeshift spool, to a swivel chair or stool. Tie or tape the end of the yarn to the box and spin the chair to wind yarn onto the box. If the yarn slips off the top, attach a barrier to prevent it — knitting needles, long wooden skewers, pencils and similar items should work .

For a more precise estimate of the yardage, use a kitchen scale, the weight and yardage of the starting ball and math.

winding tiesIf you want to estimate (and this will be a very rough estimate)  the number of yards in your hanks,  wind a couple of turns, remove and measure the length of yarn you’ve wound, then calculate the number of turns needed to result in the length you’re aiming for.

knee methodTie the hank together loosely in several places before removing it from your homemade spool.
There’s also the fool-proof, self-contained method. Simply sit Indian style and wind the yarn around your knees.