Skeins to balls question

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    • #43941
      Ed Chapman

        I normally use yarns on tubes or cones, but recently bought some really fun wool and American grown cashmere at the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival (my first time at one of these events and wow…it was like heaven). I know I need at least one device to put the skein on while I wind it into balls by hand. The back of a chair/my feet/spouse work but are not ideal. I know there are also ball winders, but am wondering if you folks have any recommendations.


      • #43942

          You can use chairs or a willing helper’s hands, but, as you’ve noted, those are not ideal tools!  An umbrella swift or tabletop swift in conjunction with a ball winder are more consistent options that will make short work of winding.  The way to accomplish winding is the unwrap the skein, place it on the swift, snip the yarns holding it together, find the end, and then place that onto the ball winder and start winding.

          I personally prefer a tabletop swift (Stanwood makes a good one: as opposed to an umbrella swift because it can be easily disassembled between uses and doesn’t require much fiddling  with to get the yarn to fit. If you do a web search for either “umbrella swift” or “tabletop swift” you can compare the two — or check out YouTube for demonstrations and reviews.  Yarn shops usually sell umbrella swifts and there are lots of places online you can look to find both ball winders and swifts (such as,,, etc.).  There are also reviews on YouTube.  Plastic ball winders are inexpensive and will do the job just fine.

          If you do wind up investing in the swift and ball winder it will open up your yarn choices! Have fun!

        • #44068

            I agree – I like to use a Swift to spread out the skein and manage it while using a yarn winder.

          • #160804

              Planning on using a swift for some Jagger Spun wool.  Is that the best choice and if anyone has done this, would the 560 yards of merino wool fit on a Leclerc spool.  Relatively new at this so just looking for my best option of getting the wool from the skein to eventually a bobbin.  THANKS – hope you are all well and weaving in this surreal time.


            • #160809

                If your’s is 18/2 merino, it should work!  I put all my skeins of yarn that I want to weave, on those bobbins.  I dye as well, so my yarn is often in skeins!  Even if it all doesn’t make it and you are planning to use the merino as weft, you could wind some shuttle bobbins and be ready to go when you sit to weave!  Keep us posted!

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