I was able to get a ball winder recently and it came in the mail yesterday. My dream would be to have a wooden Nancy’s Knit Knack ball winder but $250 or so dollars was a bit out of my range. So I got a plastic Stanwood Needlecraft on Amazon instead. It wasn’t the cheapest option but for $20 more it had way better reviews than the one that was cheaper.
I tightened it onto our Amish made cherry wood table (we just got it so I’m super excited about our first dining table) and used it to ball up my very first yarn made using a cobalt colored Corriedale I spun on a Schacht Hi-Lo Drop Spindle (more information available in a previous post). My husband helped me start it as the ends of the yarn were poofy and the yarn itself was overspun and still tight.
How it works is you slip the end on your yarn (it doesn’t have to be handspun!) into the slit. Then we had to wrap it a few times by hand as my yarn was too tight. After that he wound the yarn as I undid it and worked out some overspun kinks. Once I got to the end he tucked the tip under some of the wraps and gently pulled it off of the ball winder. Super easy!
I personally don’t think the ball winder was extremely necessary but it is very convenient. In a previous blog about Shetland wool I showed a method of wounding yarn onto toilet paper rolls. We don’t have an abundance of those (my baby loves to play with them) and so I save them as bobbins for plying when I can snag one. They could be used to do something similar to the ball winder but I would be worried about pulling the yarn ball off without the friction from the cardboard pulling pieces back.
If you are looking into an inexpensive ball winder I would totally suggest this or even the toilet paper roll option. Both are very easy to use and don’t take up much space.