Q for You: Do you wind yarn as needed, or all at once?

Q for You: Do you wind yarn as needed, or all at once?

A long time ago, we had a very fun chat about hand-winding yarn versus having it done at the store. I still believe in hand-winding and, although I bought a swift at some point in between, I don’t like it and rarely use it. (In fact, I recently relocated it to the coat closet as part of the workroom cleanup.) So it’s still me winding yarn by hand onto my thumb, from a skein draped around my knees or my neck. And I have always been a wind-as-you-go kind of girl, since I don’t like to wind more than I actually need. (I’ve never actually returned an unused skein, but I like preserving the possibility!) Yes, I find it tedious to run out of yarn and have to stop knitting to wind more, and I am always thinking of the moment during the Top-Down Knitalong when I saw panelist-friend @jen_beeman on Instagram, winding all of the yarn for her sweater in one go, and feeling envious of the fact that she would be able to knit straight through without stopping. And yet, I can’t bring myself to wind more than a two or three skeins (at most) at a time!

So that’s my two-part Q for You today: If you didn’t weigh in before, tell me whether you’re a hand-winder or a store-winder, and if the former, do you wind in one go or as needed?

I look forward to your answers and wish you a very happy weekend!

.

PREVIOUSLY in Q for You: What was your first yarn?

Photo © Jen Beeman, used with permission

115 thoughts on “Q for You: Do you wind yarn as needed, or all at once?

  1. I’m like you. I wind my yarn by hand, and usually do it one ball at a time throughout the sweater-knitting. When I was a kid, my dad was a truck driver and would bring home huge bags of mill ends from mills where he’d made deliveries. My mom taught us how to wind the yarn into balls while we watched T.V. That skill has really paid off!

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  2. Definitely by hand. I like to check out the yarn as I’m winding, looking for knots or other issues so I know what I’m working with. I also just wind one at a time. The left over skeined yarn is easier to store in the China cabinet I use for stash. The only exception to this is a project requiring several different skeins so I wind them all before starting. I’ve joined Stephen West’s MKAL starting in October for which I have to wind 9 skeins! It’s taking some time!

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  3. I love using a swift, even when I choose to hand wind a skein. Not all skeins are easy to wind and it helps keep the messy ones in some kind of order. The tool I’m ambivalent about is the ball winder.

    As to winding, because it can be a production, I will often wind everything I need at one time. It helps me get to know a yarn and to think about the project I’m about to start.

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  4. I have an absolutely beautiful swift that sits on its own three legs, like a three legged stool, made by Otto Strauch. It is made of walnut, and is almost 20 years old: it is a last forever investment. It stands on its own legs in the corner of the family room where I knit in the evening, and I wind one ball at a time, by hand, as I need it. I can hand wind a ball off of my swift almost as quicky as I can turn that little crank on a ball winder (when things got slow in the LYS, we had little contests like this). It is much easier to store the unused stash in their original form, and probably better for the yarn as well

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  5. I use a ball winder and tabletop swift, and the ball winder is a relatively recent addition – for a long time I used a beautiful handmade nostepinne stained hot pink. I bought the swift first after a couple of tragic tangling accidents when I was using the around-the-knees method (did you know you can spend 8 hours untangling lace? ask me how I know), and the nostepinne is beautifully made of gorgeous natural materials, but I am SO glad I broke down and bought the ball winder, as ugly and plastic as it is. I know people talk about loving the meditative process of winding by hand, but I don’t have that much free time, and I would rather spend it knitting than winding! I also think you can still learn quite a bit about yarn by winding it on the swift/ball winder (I usually guide the yarn off the swift along a finger to keep the tension to the ball winder consistent, which is a fair amount of handling).

    I also wind as I go, mostly because I want to keep anything unused in the skein, but also because 1) when I’m winding the first skein I’m dying to cast on so don’t want to take the time to do all the skeins, and 2) I find skeins easier to store than caked yarn (at least, in the controlled chaos that is my stash/storage system). That said, the cake always seems to run out at a moment where the last thing I want to do is stop and wind another, so maybe I should give multiples a try.

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  6. I wind my yarn at home using a swift/ball winder, I absolutely can not stand the look of a hand done ball. If I take something apart I unravel and hand wind a ball and then I redo it on a ball winder. I don’t like to work with beautiful yarn that looks like cat toys.
    If it’s a multi color project then I wind it all, if not I may wind half.

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  7. Swift and ball winder at home that I use almost exclusively unless I am winding up some sort of yarn mess that I have sorted out, then it will be by hand over my thumb and index finger. I think I saw how in one of the Makingzines. I usualy only wind a skein or two at a time.

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  8. I wind by hand onto a beautiful handmade nostepinne. Have a swift but rarely use it unless the yarn I’m winding is a slippery yarn that won’t play nicely.

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  9. I wind by hand, as needed. I do use a swift – one of the (Amish-style?) ones that looks like an X, with adjustable spokes that you put the yarn on. I find it easier to stop mid-winding if need be, than when I just hang the yarn on my knees. I also wind onto a nostepinne and I love it.

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  10. If I can, I will wind at the store as I don’t yet have a ball winder at home. If at the store, I will have them wind most of the skeins, leaving one or two aside. I don’t have the patience to hand wind, and when I have to, I just try to get through it. I am asking Santa for a ball winder at Christmas this year. 😉

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  11. I use a swift and ball winder with a few exceptions. If it’s a particularly bulky or thick/thin yarn (rare for me) I use the knee and hand winding method. Anything over 50% silk goes on the swift, but get wound by hand, as I’ve found it just slips all over on the ball winder and makes a mess, and is also a disaster if you drape it on your knees. I’m a one cake at a time winder, but I wind the second as the first gets low, when I’m at a point where I need a knitting break, so I generally have a new cake waiting when the first runs out.
    Also, center pull cake trick I read somewhere in the ether – when you get to the last quarter of the cake and it is thinking of collapsing and tangling, turn the whole thing inside out so the yarn comes from the outside. No tangles!

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  12. I wind as I go with the swift and a ball winder. I even wind the yarn that is ready to go in a pull skein because I like the cake that the winder gives. It sits on a flat surface and doesn’t flop around as I pull the yarn. Have I gone crazy?

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  13. One at a time, at home, with the method depending on the yarn. Usually I’ll use my swift and winder, sometimes a nostepinne depending on the yarn, especially the bulkies. Inspecting for knots and issues, I can cut out the problem and start a new ball, avoiding a surprise. Variegated yarn always seems more beautiful to me in the hank. Put into a ball I can better evaluate how it will translate visually as fabric. (Sometimes I’ll abandon a plan to use some yarns based on this outcome.) Hanks nestle so nicely, soft and flexible, definitely more efficient to store.

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  14. A few years ago I finally got a swift and ball winder and I love how they have sped up the winding and give me nice center pull cakes.

    I wind my yarn very similarly to how I buy my toothpaste, deodorant etc. If I am down to the second-to-last one, I need to get more! Always need one in reserve. :)

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  15. I like to wind all the yarn for a project at once, so that I don’t have to stop knitting to wind more. My preferred method is a nostepinne with a swift; I like the neat yarn cakes that can be produced with the nostepinne and using the swift both prevents tangles and speeds the winding.
    However I do have a ball winder, and I will use it instead of the nostepinne if there’s more than a dozen balls to wind. Time is precious, and I would rather be knitting!

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  16. I have a ball winder and swift that I got when I worked at Coulter Studios, a high-end knitting shop near Bloomingdale’s in Manhattan…in 1980! I use it sometimes – or wind by hand if I am in a rush to get to my project… I like having the yarn all wound up so i can keep knitting without having to stop and wind.

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  17. I have a beautiful handmade Amish swift that I use to handwind yarn in my rocking chair as I need new skeins. I used to exclusively handwind from a skein draped over my knees till I started knitting with lace weight silk blends, I had knots and tangles so bad and it was heartbreaking to waste such beautiful yarn.

    If I’m in a pinch and out of the house when I need a new skein I have been known to wind from my knees on planes and trains!

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  18. I hate winding yarn by hand. I have a ball winder and swift from knit picks and I think winding yarn this way is the coolest thing and my 4 and 7 year old boys love to do it and watch! I find the whole thing very satisfying. I usually wind everything at once.

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  19. I do all of the above. I hand wind to get started, store wind one at a time, or use my winder and swift. My setup is not the greatest so I use my equipment least often.

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  20. I’m a “home” winder – I have my own swift and winder. I prefer to only wind up 1 or 2 balls. I’ve heard that winding into balls stretches the yarn…so if a project takes me months to complete, then the yarn waits in skeins until I’m ready to use it.

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  21. Interesting question. Even more interesting is how many responding knitters wind yarn by hand. It has never occurred to me to do this, except when out of town and eager to try out a newly purchased yarn. I love going out to the workbench to quietly, and quickly, wind yarn into beautiful, identical cakes, then neatly stacking them in the top drawer. It is part of the anticipation and pleasure of beginning a new project.

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  22. I have the tools and I use them. But all at once or I as go? Depends. For a sweater, I will try to prepare all my skeins in advance, but I am currently working on a Nature’s Palette blanket that requires 14 skeins of fingering weight, so yeah, for this one I did those two or three at a time, because winding so many skeins in one setting would have been just too much… After three or four skeins, my brain seems to wander into a different plane, a momentary trance induced by the constant movement of the swift. This is when I know I have to stop.

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  23. I usually wind my yarn one or two skeins at a time as needed on large projects, but ever since I discovered that a ball winder existed I have wondered why anyone would wind yarn by hand! I only wind by hand if I am in a pinch like I am out of town or at someone’s house and want to start using the yarn right away or something. I otherwise can’t imagine spending the time (not to mention the arm cramp) hand winding when you could wind up a little cake in about a minute! It’s absolutely worth getting out my swift and ball winder, even for one skein. Also, I hate having a ball of yarn rolling around while I’m knitting and much prefer a flat bottomed cake.

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  24. My husband winds my yarn (enough for project) on a swift and ball winder. He likes doing it. I like the look and feel of a cake. So, we both have satisfaction: his that of a job well done and for me the hopes of the job to be.

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  25. I hand wind my yarn as I need it and I also have ball winder and swift. Sometimes I will use the ball winder and swift for fingering yarn. I love to wind it so it looks perfect! It’s an obsession. It is also very comforting winding by hand.

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  26. I wind by hand with my skeins stretched over two back to back ladderback chairs . I find this a soothing meditative activity that lets me feel and examine all the yarn. Usually just one ball at a time…. I am not a fast knitter and the time it takes to hand wind is all part of this lovely process.

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  27. Generally speaking, I use my swift and ball winder, and prepare several balls at a time. When I get into trouble with a twisted skein, I HATE having to wind the remaining yarn by hand. That said, I have the most pleasant memories of holding skeins of yarn while my dear mother or even-more-dear grandmother wound balls.

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  28. I have two cats; one quite young and playful. Can’t imagine trying to wind 400+ meters of sock yarn by hand with him around. He’d think it was a new game and chaos would result. I also wonder if all those who prefer to hand wind use the thicker yarns? I can’t imagine wanting to hand wind sock yarn.

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    • I wind by hand and mainly use sock/4-Ply (fingering) and DK weight yarns so no, not particularly thick ones. The whole process of hand-knitting is hardly speedy, so the time it takes to wind the yarn by hand rather than using a swift and ball-winder is a drop in the ocean.

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  29. I wind my yarn on a Strauch Fiber ball winder and swift. I really don’t care for hand wound balls of yarn. And I don’t have the patience to wind by hand either. I am intrigued by the idea of using a nostepinne. I typically have the attention span to wind about 4 balls of yarn at a time. If I’m working on a sweater and am down to my last wound ball, I’ll wind more before I run out of the skein in use. I get so sad when I want to knit and the yarn I want to use is still in skeins. Most of my yarn is stored in balls, even though that’s not the best way to store yarn it makes me happy and increases my knitting enjoyment. Since I knit for my enjoyment and not for my livelihood, winding and storing in balls is my preference.

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  30. I hand wind as I go. It doesn’t bother me if I’m down to a few inches and then need to wind another skein. I was a quilter for many years and I would cut several blocks and sew them up and go back to cutting rather than cut the whole quilt and then start. I once cut out the entire quilt and then realized that I cut one part of the block wrong for the entire quilt which meant going back to purchase more yardage and the fabric was sold out and, consequently, had to search the Internet, found it … then had to pay shipping for 1 yard of fabric and had to wait for it to come.

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  31. I’m finding this discussion so fascinating! My husband bought me a swift and ball winder for Christmas (totally unexpected—I had never asked for them, and I didn’t know he even knew what they were!), and I have been surprised with how much I love using them.

    I prefer to wind one or two cakes at a time, but for a different reason than most other knitters have mentioned, and that is that winding a new cake signifies progress to me. It gives me great pleasure to wind up another cake because it means I’ve completed that much more of my project. Winding up all my skeins at once feels tedious. Winding them up one at a time, as needed, fills me with happy satisfaction.

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  32. I wind up skeins as soon as I get them in the mail or they’re dry enough after washing from spinning. I think this habit developed from dealing with tangled skeins. Same with using a swift. After HOURS of untangling sock yarn disasters (I knit so many of my hats with hand dyed sock yarns held double), the wonderful Fashoknit Umbrella Yarn Swift was total magic. Ditto for my husband who spins so much yarn for his weaving. He, too, tends to ball up his yarns quickly. Unless he hangs the skeins in our shop for a while for show. Both of us are hand winders. We love the feel of the yarn going through our fingers!

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  33. Since I have a swift and winder that I can’t leave up, I wind it all (if it’s more than, say, two hanks). It’s a pain to attach those things so I do it all when I have them out.

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  34. I use a swift and ball winder at home but only wind one skein at a time. I feel like it’s best to keep the yarn relaxed for as long as possible so I want any leftovers to be in their original state.

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  35. Wow, so many hand winders. A childhood memory is of having to hold the yarn while my mom wound it by hand. Fond memory now but at the time I hated having to sit still! I have a ball winder and a swift. Wind as I go. Someone once told me it was not a good idea to wind to far ahead because the yarn is stretched when it is wound with ball winder. Has anyone else heard this?

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  36. The comments make me wonder if I might like swift and ball winder because I do like the balls wound for me at the shop on the rare occasion that this happens, but I wind my own balls – one at a time. I don’t mind stopping and standing and thinking of something else for a bit while I wind my own balls.

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  37. Since I’ve not invested in a swift and ball winder if I come away with a smart little cake created by my LYS I see it as a gift. Plus it is usally wrapped in tissue:) So for all the other yarns I wrap hank over two chair backs and wind by hand with TV on. None are center-pulls. I grow tired after 2-3 skeins and wait to do the rest mid-sweater.

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  38. I used to have the shop wind it for me, all skeins at once for a single project. I’m older and wiser now, and understand that it is usually better for the yarn if it remains in hank form until I’m ready for it, so I wind as I go… but I have my own swift and winder at home and much prefer that to hand winding. I’ve never enjoyed winding yarn by hand. And now that I have two young children, a dog, a full-time job, and a couple of volunteer obligations…my “me time” is way too precious to spend it doing something I don’t enjoy.

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  39. Like you, I keep my swift in the closet and rarely use it. I really enjoy winding yarn with a nostepinne with the skein draped around my knees and usually wind one to two balls at a time. I prefer to have one ball on my needles and the second in my project bag so I don’t find myself running out of yarn when knitting on the go.

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  40. Hand wind as I go more often than cake wind. It’s a TV watching break from a knitting project. A few times a year I’ll set up Stanwood large wooden swift and large ball winder. Ball winder is substantial and makes a cool whirring sound when cranking.

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  41. When I first started knitting I thought winding by hand would be incredibly time costuming and tedious, so I would wind it at my LYS as I bought it. I assumed I would have to buy a ball winder at some point. The first time I ordered yarn online I was too eager to start my project to wait to go to my LYS and wind it, so I balled it up while my boyfriend held it for me. I stopped winding yarn as I bought it after the time I was winding a twisted skein of 200 yds of sock yarn at the store and it got tangled: it took me two hours to untangle it at the store, and I ended up with an ugly tight ball. I also never used the yarn, so I wish it was still in skein form!
    I’ve since learned to create nice looking center pull cakes on my thumb, usually draping the yarn across my knees. I’ve never tried a nostepinne, but it looks like the result would be similar.
    I usually wind the yarn as I need it, as I prefer to store unused yarn in a skein.

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  42. I generally wind at home – with a swift and a ball winder – for the project at hand although sometimes I don’t wind all the skeins at the same time. You know, sometimes I let a project lag…

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  43. I love my swift and ball winder. While I have the Swift and Ball winder out, I wind all the yarn for a project. I never really enjoyed hand winding skeins of yarn.

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  44. I’ve borrowed my daughter’s swift and ball winder when I’ve had a LOT of yarn to wind (ten five-hundred-yard hanks? Definitely using the swift & winder!). Otherwise, by hand, using what could only be described by the most generously-minded knitter as a nostepinne: a narrow, sturdy, cardboard tube that used to hold parchment paper. If I’m going to pull from the outside of the ball, like I would with cotton or bamboo yarns, then I start winding around my thumb or fingers instead.

    I keep thinking I should at least invest in a swift, because although I enjoy hand-winding tidy balls of yarn, I don’t enjoy the occasional tangled jungle vines of yarn that can result from trying to keep a hank of yarn in order around my knees, my neck, or the backs of chairs.

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    • And the question I forgot to actually answer after getting caught up in reading everyone’s responses: for small projects, I wind all the yarn at once. For larger, I wind half, knit, then wind the rest. If I were a monogamous knitter, I’d wind it all at once.

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  45. I’m far to impatient to wind yarn by hand, plus I get flashbacks of my childhood being forced to come inside from playing “spy on the neighbours” or dress-up to hold yarn for my Mom until my arms ached. Besides, I adore my swift (that swish, swish, squeak sound does something perfectly sublime to my brain).

    As for whether I wind every skein for a project, it depends. If it’s a small item, a test or a project with a definite deadline, I’ll usually wind it all at once. But if it’s a project with no deadline, I’ll usually just wind a few skeins at a time because, let’s be honest, I might (come on, I KNOW I will) get distracted part way through by the next amazing hat-of-the-internets or latest BT supernova pattern and have to drop it like it’s hot, like one does.

    BTW, another reason why hand-winding isn’t for me is that after winding the yarn using my swift and a winder, Iike to write the Skein # and the weight on the label and tuck it inside the cake and also keep track of the info in my project notebook. If I’m pre-winding skeins for a project, it’s nice to have a big ziplock bag full of cakes with weight info already recorded and ready to go. There’s no place in hand-wound balls to tuck the labels into. I know this might sound weird, but this is the way I like to to do it.

    FYI, just in case you were thinking of asking a sub-question: I always pull my yarn from the OUTSIDE of the cake, not center-pull. I don’t like the way center-pull cakes collapse near the end and besides, I think they put too much tension on the yarn.

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  46. I wind my yarn by hand and with a swift. It depands on the yarn. I don’t wind yarn until i need it. I like to keep the yarn loose in hanks until i need it—i think it is better for the fibers of the yarn but I don’t know that for sure.

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  47. I wind it all at once. Using my hand mixer. There are vids on Thoutube on how to do it. If you plan to try it, use a skein of yarn you’re not too attached to in case the process looks a tad scary. This process is a Godsend to me because I have arthritis and a spinal cord injury.

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  48. I always wind it myself with a ball winder and a swift (I love doing this)…rarely wind it all at once for a project…I typically wind a few skeins at a time if it’s a sweater and I’m not sure how many I will need.

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  49. I use a ball winder and swift at home. Love a center pull cake, balls just go all over
    the place on me. I usually wind one at a time, winding the second (or subsequent ones) as the previous gets low.

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  50. By hand, and pretty much as-I-go, though I try to wind the next before the current one is completely finished. I just use my hands (the unwound yard draped around the back of a chair), but I’m curious to try a nostepinne someday.

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  51. I have a swift and ball winder, and I leave everything in skein until I need it. If it’s a large project then I usually wind several skeins so I dont have to stop often. I have found stopping mid stride, especially with a sweater or something that gets boring can sometimes derail a whole project. Winding is my least favorite part of knitting but it beats putting up balls by hand in my opinion.

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  52. Hi. I wind at home, I wind by hand, and for a sweater I will usually wind a couple of skeins at a time. I don’t tend to wait to run out before I wind the next skein, I just do it as I’m knitting my way through the previous one. To wind, I put two dining chairs back-to-back and the skein goes around the backs which I position far enough apart to hold it in place. Does anyone else’s winding incorporate a few games of chase-the-dropped-ball?

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  53. I am like you in that I like to wind balls of yarn while sitting and watching a show on TV and find it relaxing. While I have all the winding equipment it generally sits in the corner of the room waiting to be used. If a skein is large I will use my “squirrel cage” to hold the skein while I wind by hand.

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  54. I hand wind everything but only enough to knit to see if I really like the patten. I enjoy the quiet time while winding and even the challenge of tangles. Maybe that’s why I enjoy fly fishing. That involves knots and tangles as well.

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  55. I wind by hand into balls or on the nostepinne as needed for my project. I like the meditative quality of hand winding, learning the yarn as I go, and I like to detangle yarn also. And I love the squishy soft balls of yarn. Also, after a moth incident I realized it’s much harder for moths to infiltrate a yarn ball than it is a yarn cake.

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  56. I do everything at home… I have a nice vintage swift (in metal) and a mega ball winder (nice wooden one). I usually store the skeins on my shelves until I need them and then, I will make cakes with the yarn I need for the new project.

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  57. I have a ball winder since I do knit a lot personally and as a sample knitter. I usually use a chair to put my hank of yarn around. If it is for a sweater or a big project, I will wind a few cakes at once, enough not to have to do it too soon after starting, but not too much so I don’t have unused cakes. I heard it is not too good for the fibers of the wool to remain lomg as a cake,, as there can be some distortion happening with time.

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  58. I us my LYS for projects from yarn I just purchased. The have an amazing electric winder that doesn’t wind too tightly. I also use my swift and winder at home. If I plan to focus on the project, I’ll wind half or all of the yarn at one time. If I have a super slinky yarn, like silk, I will hand wind and pop it immediately into a yarn bra.

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  59. I’m addicted to my swift and ball winder – even though it has some dicey moments (depending on the hank of yarn). I only wind a few balls at a time – but generally a project’s-worth, except when I make sweaters, for some reason. Then I only wind 2-3 (I guess cuz I’m not sure it’s going to turn into a sweater, if I’m not into it, so I don’t want to go whole hog.) I have returned MANY skeins of yarn because I overbought one colour-way for a sweater and I generally use less yarn than is called for, in practically every project. So I’m firmly of the belief that it’s better to leave things unwound till it’s time. One other thing – winding stretches the yarn and can, if it sits in a tight skein for more than a few months, its resilience can be eroded.

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  60. If the yarn is readily available in my lys I usually buy 1 hank and swatch and assess if I like the yarn. As soon as I know which yarn for which project I wind what I need for the entire project. I used to handwind in balls, using knees or back of chair, whenever there is a moment when I can do it uninterupted. Untill that day when a newly started hank of 400 m light fingering very expensive silk popped of the chair before I noticed whilst I was still winding. It ended up as a complete mess on the floor and I didn’t know where to begin to pick it up. By the end of the afternoon my living room looked like yarn spaghetti. Luckily it was game night amongst friends. Each wanted to have a go at untangling and in the end 4 adults spend 5 hours discussing how to untangle and which end was where. And we managed. That was the year I bought a swift and a winder. I prefer cakes anyhow over balls.

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  61. I do not normally wind yarn in advance however, I did purchase some close-out wool from KnitPicks and I have already wound up 1 cake of it in anticipation of knitting a long scarf with it. My usual method is to wait until I actually start a project to wind my yarn.

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  62. I use an inexpensive swift and then, with something streaming on the tv, wind by hand onto my thumb. Haven’t been able to justify cost of a winder but I am a big fan of my swift. I don’t enjoy the winding step and will do all of the yarn purchased for a project at once. Stopping to wind more yarn part way through a project runs the risk of having that project stay in limbo for a bit. I have wound yarn ahead for multiple projects so it is ready to go when I am ready for it! It’s like chores – get the chores done and then move on to the fun stuff. I have never returned unused yarn perhaps because I don’t purchase extra? Those unused skeins always end up being something!

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  63. I usually wind at home with a swift and ball winder– or more precisely, my partner will wind yarn for me because he LOVES the ball winder and thinks it’s incredibly clever! The exception to this is mini-skeins (which I usually wind by hand) or really large/bulk skeins (which I will use my LYS’s heavy-duty ball winder for). I try to wind up all the yarn I think I’ll need for a project in one go, largely because I find it annoying to have to keep setting up and taking down the ball winder. Some day it will be a permanent installation!

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  64. One at a time, by hand! I enjoy the natural break from knitting that winding provides. Plus it’s easier to carry around an extra skein than an extra ball. And I think it’s better for the yarn to remain in skein form until just before being knit–would worry about it stretching and changing the gauge if left balled for too long.

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  65. I feel like winding by hand would take me too long, and I’m far too impatient to get started on the knitting! I have a ball winder and swift at home, so I wind a ball or two at a time. Although I really enjoy the process of winding the yarn, I think it would lose its shine if I was winding a whole sweater’s worth in one go. Plus, if I’m going to have leftover yarn I prefer to keep it in the skein with the tags intact, otherwise I’d lose the tags and end up with a huge stash of mystery yarn!

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  66. Equal parts store and home winding. Prefer store. Have taken to winding all but one skein purchased in case I don’t need it. Would like to feel confident winding by hand like dreareneeknits but not quite sure how to do it. Any tips?

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  67. My favorite answer… it depends! But, I did invest in a lovely wooden table swift (not the umbrella one or the one in your photo) that I’m very happy to have. I don’t mind winding balls by hand, but when converting from skein to ball, I always use the swift and ball winder as it makes center pull balls much more easily than hand-winding.

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  68. I used to be a hand winder and enjoy the process. But I was gifted a swift and ball winder for a birthday two years ago and I love it! I still feel the yarn and can slow down and enjoy it. But it’s so much quicker! (And I have twin boys and an infant..so like others would rather just get knitting). I like to wind as I go. Maybe one skein extra if I think about it and have some little hands that want a turn.

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  69. As needed, using a winder and Amish swift. I think winding by hand is a chore, and I see no need to wind a skein until I am ready to use it.

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  70. Two beautifully designed chairs, back to back, replace willing arms held out as I did for my mother and grandmother. The result is a neat and very usable ball. Ready to knit!

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  71. I always wind as needed, by hand, into center pull balls. I save this task for when I want something woolen in my hands, but don’t quite feel like putting out any knitting brain power. Since I buy the majority of my yarn online, having the store wind them into neat little cakes isn’t always an option. I’ve thought about getting a swift, but I only ever want one when I’m hand-winding 400+ yards of lace weight yarn!

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  72. I really enjoy balls that are wound by hand and have developped the skills to make them pretty and perfectly round. I have inherited a stash of very rustic local wool wound like that from my grandmother and i just love to let it sit there in a basket as decoration. I also recently acquired a nostepinne so i can wind center pull balls. With time however i do find that it’s hard on my elbows to wind by hand a lot so wind finer yarn at the store or at a friends house. I also wind as i go, or keep a few unwound skeins, i’m terrible at finishing my wip’s and when it sits in a cake or ball for too long, it gets stretched out and squished.

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  73. I wind from a swift to my handmade nostepinne. I usually do it all at once. When I am too tired to knit, winding let’s me play with yarn and be productive!

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  74. I wind center-pull balls by hand, and only as needed. I have a swift that I use if the yarn seems particularly prone to snarling, but I no longer own a ball winder.

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  75. I wind everything by hand at home, all of it at the start of a project. For me, winding by hand it is part of the whole wonderful knitting process. But then, I am the type of knitter who is quite happy to rip out a whole gansey sweater sleeve and reknit it! I see it as value for wool. I wind into balls that look like cats toys, but that’s fine with me. The option of going to my lys for winding is not possible for me as I buy online a lot because I currently work in the Middle East. I have never thought about buying a winder possibly because I associate knitting so much with my mother, who always winds by hand. When I stay with her, she offers to do my winding for me and winds looser (i.e. better) than I do. I have wound too tight in the past but have learned from that mistake! Hand winding is therapeutic. Recently my mother offered to rip out a sweater I wasn’t happy with – she put it into hanks and hand washed it, then re-wound it into balls.

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  76. I use a lamp with a flared lampshade as a swift (not an original idea–I read about it somewhere.) It works amazingly well. I’ve also used a chair back or my husband. I hand wind as needed, around an antique nostepinne that I bought before I even knew what it was. I love winding by hand.

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  77. I use a swift and ball winder at home. I really enjoy the process so I almost always wind my skeins as soon as I buy the yarn, and definitely all in one go. For me it works better because the yarn is ready to go as soon as inspiration hits and I can cast on immediately. I also feel like it’s easier to choose colors for a project that requires more than one because each ball of yarn is roughly the same size/shape, so I can see the whole picture a little more clearly.

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  78. All of it at once, on a swift and winder. I tension the yarn with the left hand while the right winds, so I have a good idea if there are any knots or other trouble areas. It also allows me to use those skeins last or to otherwise pre-plan if a flawed skein is going to mess up my project. This is especially important with hand dyed colors for me, as sometimes there’s a significantly lighter or darker area in one skein that’s hidden, even after you open the skein up.

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  79. It depends on several things…
    1. If I plan on starting right away, and the shop offers the service, I will let them. Upside is that it slows me down and gives me time to chat. If not, I’ll wind it myself later.
    2. If I’m up to getting out the equipment, I use the swift. If not, my acorn topped nostepinne is always at the ready!

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  80. I use a swift and ball winder, normally, but am not averse to hand winding. I typically only wind a few balls at a time, but don’t wait until the bitter end before I wind the next one, I do it when I have a natural break in the knitting.

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  81. I’m a store winder or an at-a-friend’s-house winder. I will wind by hand only if I must. I wind everything before I start a project! I don’t like to slow the momentum down!

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  82. I have a swift and ball winder, so I tend to wind multiple hanks at a time for multiple projects. I hate digging out the swift and winder just for one hank, so it’s got to be worth it to go through the trouble of setting it up. I tend to wind enough for three or four projects before it gets put back in the cabinet. I despise winding balls by hand; arthritis makes it too painful to do it.

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  83. My husband gifted me a swift and winder early in my knitting journey. I think this was based on the rampant complaining about hand winding at the time. I could never go back.
    And I am a one skein at a time kind of girl. I don’t return yarn ever. If I have an extra skein at the end of a sweater…lucky me. That’s stash. But I never wind more than one skein at a time. And I honestly have no rationale for it.

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  84. It’s never occurred to me to NOT wind all the yarn I *think* I’m going to need for a project. (If I purchased a bit extra “just in case” I don’t wind that unless I need it…but honestly, I’m probably not going to return it anyway ::cough::yarn hoarder::cough::) But, if I’m being honest, winding yarn is my least favorite step in the process, like tracing and cutting out a sewing pattern, and I’m seriously thinking about winding as I go for my next project.

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  85. I have a swift and a yarn winder and I love to use them. I don’t know why but for some unknown reason I love winding my yarn into cakes. Going from the swift usually makes them a little tight so I’ll rewind them so they are nice and fluffy. I just have so much fun using my winder. Am I weird or what?

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  86. For me, it depends on the project. For my blanket projects, I’ll often wind up several projects at once (while I have my winder and swift set up). I have a custom knitting business, so I wind up A LOT of yarn every year — I have knit up 59 skeins of Cascade Ecological Wool (at a whopping 478 yards per skein) so far this year…and I’m only just now moving into my busy season! But when I knit up Berroco’s Abayomi pattern, I only wound up a couple of the 18 skeins needed at a time.

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  87. It depends on the mood my cat is in. Somedays he’s pretty calm and will let me get quite a bit wound using my swift and winder. Other days, he’s closer to me than my own shadow and MUST help the swift or winder with the yarn and I can only do a bit, if any. I’ve been told it’s a Siamese thing though lol.

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  88. I wind one or two skeins at a time. I always heard that you shouldn’t have yarn sitting in a ball or cake for too long. I use a swift and nostepinne.

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  89. I use a giant swift and ball winder. I enjoy how quickly and more uniform the results are. The process of set up and winding is a bit of a production, and I read that it is preferred to keep yarn at low tension in a hank for as long as possible. The result: 2-3 hanks at a time. If it’s a small project, I wind it all. If it’s a sweater, I wind more as needed. Bonus: it serves as a mark point for the progress I’m making on such a large project.

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  90. I do not let stores wind for me..I get impatient watching someone try to do what i can do easily..and the value of the yarn instantly drops by balling it (should I desire to resell). I always hope I have my ball winder near..and a swift?! If not..I do it by hand…and as needed!

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