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Reasons to Love an Umbrella Swift and Ball Winder

Fun with Knitting Tools


Reasons to Love an Umbrella Swift and Ball Winder

The ball winder and swift, ready to perform their duty.

© Sarah E. White, licensed to About.com, Inc.

An umbrella swift and yarn ball winder are not strictly necessary knitting accessories. You can make a hank of yarn into a ball just as well, if not as easily, using the back of a chair or a friend's hands and rolling the ball by hand (you can even make a center-pull ball this way, which is the main reason people like ball winders).

But every time I use my ball winder and swift, I'm reminded of all the reasons I love them. If you're on the fence about whether these tools are for you, read on.

Using a Swift and Ball Winder is Fast

The first time I used a swift and ball winder to make a ball of yarn, it probably took me 10 or 15 minutes. Now, if the machines are set up and ready to go, I can wind a ball in five minutes or less, depending on the yardage.

I once wound a 115-yard ball in less than two minutes. There's no way I could do that by hand.

It's a Fun Bit of Knitting Technology

When you think about it, there's nothing modern about knitting. The same basic tools have been in use for centuries.

Sure, there have been innovations -- circular needles, superwash wool, manmade fibers, interchangeable needles -- but the basics are the same as they ever were. Umbrella swifts aren't an incredibly new innovation, either (though electric ball winders are certainly a recent innovation), but they are about as close as non-machine knitters get to fancy technology in this craft. And it's just plain fun to whip out your toys and make yarn balls. Really.

It Builds Anticipation

Winding a hank of yarn into a ball by hand is tedious, boring work. Yes, it allows you to get to know your yarn a bit before you even cast on a stitch, and that's cool, but if your knitting project starts out with a chore, how enthusiastic are you going to be about getting started?

Because of the speed (and fun of technology) involved in using a swift and ball winder, it's easier to get excited about starting a project. And you'll get to casting on a lot faster than if you had to wind those five hanks of laceweight yarn by hand.

These Tools are Cool to Look at

OK, a ball winder isn't all that pretty, but I've always wanted to have an office set up in a way that I could keep my swift out all the time. It's just a fun piece to have in your room; yes, a lot like an umbrella without its covering. Who could resist spinning it every time they walked by?

Winding a Crank is Great Exercise

It might not be strictly true that winding yarn counts as exercise, but I know my arm's always worn out when I'm finished. Bonus: this is one knitting activity you really can do while drinking a glass of wine. It still better be white, just to be safe.

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