Learn to wind yarn without a winder
You can wind yarn without a winder or a swift. In fact, you can wind a center-pull yarn cake without any equipment at all. All you need is your knees and your hands.
Maybe you don’t have a ball-winder and a swift. I know most of us have seen the “hack” of using a toilet paper tube and hand mixer to wind our yarn, but the idea of my yarn, or worse yet, my hand mixer, touching a toilet paper tube just really grosses me out. Maybe you’re with me on that one.
Or perhaps you are just crafting on the go, which is pretty common for me. In any of these situations, you may need to wind yarn without a winder, by hand, since many luxury yarns come in hanks instead of center-pull balls or skeins.
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Can you wind yarn without a swift?
Yes you can! A swift is a tool that holds your yarn while you wind it. Now, if your yarn has come in a ball, cake, or center-pull skein, you don’t need to wind it at all. You can just use it as it is. But if your yarn has come in a hank, it needs to be wound into a ball, cake, or center-pull skein before you use it, otherwise it will get terribly tangled.
A swift is made to hold a hank, which is basically the yarn wound into a large circle. Most swifts can expand in size to fit the hank of yarn that you have. The swift helps prevent tangles by holding the yarn taught while you wind it.
While a swift is certainly the easiest way to do this, your knees or the back of a chair are the next best options. If I am on the go and need to wind yarn, I just use my knees. You’ll see this in the video below. I sit with my knees apart and loop the hank of yarn around both knees, holding it as taught as I can without it slipping off.
If you are using your knees or the back of a chair you’ll probably have to work a little more slowly than you would with a swift, but if you don’t have a winder either and you are working by hand, that won’t be a problem.
So how do I wind yarn without a ball winder?
Let’s look at this step by step with pictures. Or if video is more your style, scroll down to the video.
The first step to winding yarn without a winder is wrapping the yarn in a figure 8 around your thumb and pinky several times. I am right-handed and I do this wrapping around my right thumb and pinky fingers.
Start by laying the yarn end across your hand with the end toward your pinky. Loop the yarn around the back of your thumb.
Then put the yarn between your ring and pinky and loop the yarn around the back of your pinky.
Bring the yarn around your pinky and back around your thumb making a figure 8.
Repat this several times. You don’t need to stretch your fingers as wide as you can. I actually think it works a little better if you don’t. Just a comfortable distance is fine.
With the yarn end coming out between your pinky and ring fingers, pinch the center of the figure 8 with your other hand and pull the yarn off your thumb and pinky.
Once you’ve pulled it off, you’ll fold the figure 8 in half with the fold toward your non-dominant hand and the end of your yarn toward your dominant hand.
Hold the folded bundle of yarn between the thumb and index finger of your dominant hand and hold onto the yarn end with your pinky and ring fingers.
Next you’re going to start wrapping the yarn around both your fingers and the bundle at the same time. You wrap around your fingers as well because that keeps you from wrapping too tightly. This will keeping your from stretching your yarn tightly as you wrap it.
Try to keep track of your end and make sure you don’t wind it up into the center-pull ball your are making.
Once you’ve wrapped several times, take the yarn off your fingers, rotate it, place back in your fingers, and wrap several times more, around both your fingers and the yarn.
Each rotation you make should be done so that your wraps will be at an angle to the last set of wraps. So you are rotating both vertically and horizontally, always keeping the yarn moving wrapping around and not over the center point where your yarn tail is coming out.
You’ll repeat the rotate, wrap sequence until you’ve wrapped all of your yarn.
Winding yarn without a winder video
Now let’s see that in video! It might make a little more sense when you can see it all happening.
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