using my yarn swift for the first time

Nothing like having a lovely new gadget and absolutely no idea how to use it….but that’s why we have youtube. Honestly if I’m stuck with anything I just youtube it. Take my lovely new Glimakra yarn swift. It’s from Sweden via the lovely Suzy Hausfrau and is just a dream to use. Well it’s actually a dream to look at too. Apparently they have been making these in Sweden for over 80 years so I expect this to last a long time in my craft room.

Now you might be just knitting from balls of wool at the moment. But if you’re into hand dyed, hand spun yarns or some of my favourite brands like malabrigo/madelinetosh/quince & co then you’ll find yourself ending up with hanks of yarn. I usually use the back of a dining chair when it has come time to turn a hank into a ball of wool. Once, just once, the very first time I had to unwind a hank I tried to do it with the yarn laying flat and I hovered above trying to wind it. Don’t try this at home. It ended up in a ball of knots and I learn the hard way. Husbands or children can come in handy if they stand with their hands outstretched and hold the hank/skein out for you and you wind it.

But this yarn swift is the way to go. It was so much fun to use I can’t wait to use it again. And I’ve since learnt that you can get a ball winder and then you have the two going at once and save your arm which does get a bit sore. Now to use this fine piece of equipment, you unfold your hank and pop it over the top of the swift, tighten the screw but not too tight. remove any little ties that are holding the hank in place, find the end and start winding. As you pull the wool/yarn the swift turns around (saving you from moving your arm around to unwind the wool from the hank). The kids thought it was fabulous and all stood in awe as it was moving, kind of like a hills hoist spinning in the wind (at high speed) is a good description.

and that my friends is how to use a yarn swift. Just in case you were like me and a little clueless in that department.

and I liked these two youtube videos here and here on the subject! Do you have a yarn swift? If you are handy or have a handyman around the house you can even make your own (again, youtube it).


  1. This is interesting! I don’t even know such thing exists…because all my yarns come in a ball. I have seen yarns in hank but presume we just use them the same way as a normal ball.

    If you do not have the ball winder, do you just pull the yarn from the swift and wrap it manually into a ball then? I am asking this because your ball looks very professionally done:)

    • oh yes I just used my fingers. Wrap a bit around 2 fingers then when you’ve got a bit there make it into a ball and wind directly to the ball. If I can get hubby to do a video I’ll do a quick iphone vid

  2. I bought one with a ball winder recently since I’m selling quite a bit of hand dyed yarn now – wow, what a difference! So much quicker and easier :)
    My girls are fascinated, watching it go round and round and round!

  3. I love my yarn swift and my ball winder. You need to buy a ball winder Corrie and then you can just sit there and turn the handle and you will get a cake of yarn that will sit there instead of rolling around too. I even get Isabelle to do mine sometimes as she finds it fun to do!

    • I do don’t I? for some reason I thought all you needed was the swift but now I know!!!!! oh Keira would have a ball! love that you have a helper!

  4. OzKnitter says:

    I love swifts, so handy! I’m lucky enough to have a vintage Bakelite tabletop one, just like my Grandmother had in the 50’s! It works beautifully. see it here (Ravelry link)

  5. Okay – so I love yarn shops that have one of these thingies and wind my balls for me. They are fantastic. Interestingly – the device is a really old creation and when the wool has finished winding, it compacts. This is called “Pop Goes the Weasel” as in the old nursery rhyme. They have been around North America since it was settled.

  6. You need to get an electric ball winder. Then you don’t have to do a thing but watch! Or make a cuppa 😉

    • yes! now I’m not sure if the one I’m bidding on is electric! might need to google or youtube that one! I thought I was all fine with the swifter but now realise the ball winder is also a good idea!

  7. I have the winder but not the swift! Have been trying to design something using the spinny bit of a floor fan from a verge collection ( not the motor of course!!!), replacing the fan blades with lengths of wood with pegs to hold the skein…. but it is still in my head!!!
    Until then, I use a small coffee table upturned, and the BF to unwind the skein while I wind onto the wool winder…..

    • wow love that! also love you’d even think of designing one. I didn’t even know how to use this when it arrived so I impressed. they do make life easier

  8. Nothing like some fun craft gadgets to keep a knitting mama happy! I use two tins from the pantry to put my hanks of yarn around! I’m so high tech :) Jacinta

    • yep that’s high tech – resourceful!!!! my hubby probably wishes I was a bit more like that instead of having the latest and the greatest

  9. I love my swift which I bought from Renae when she got the first them in. I had another one, home made but one of ex-husband’ friends broke it. I’ve misplaced my winder, I don’t know where it is in a small two bedroom apartment but even with just the swift, winding is quick and easy.

    I did three skeins of Renae’s Clever Camel the other day. Just over 30 minutes to set swift up, wind and put it away again. Love it. I have frozen shoulder right now and don’t think I could easily wind a skein otherwise.

    • oh there is no turning back! I’m in love with mine, I was a bit worried I might prefer the back of the dining chair. Um no. Definitely moving forward.

  10. I have a great swift that my lovely hubby made for me. Makes life so much easier

  11. I have a swift that was custom made for me by Bluster Bay woodworking. I waited almost a year for it to be made. It was worth the wait. I’ll have to photograph it for you.

  12. My mother spun her own wool, I have her spinning wheel, but haven’t been able to use it, anyway I have memories of my sisters and I sitting for ages with hands spread wide as she wound wool from the hanks into balls. Your children will thank you for this purchase. Regards Wendy

  13. Jenny @ ohjoh says:

    We used to sit at mum’s feet with the wool around our arms as she wound the balls. I remember thinking that it was a very slow process as my arms became tired ….

  14. Hi Corrie,
    I want to show the yarn swift I found at a antique market. It’s the 40s, is well preserved and has a hand-painted flowers. Hope you like it.
    Besos desde Barcelona

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