I have worked my way through many a ball winder in my knitting life.
My first ball winder was one of those small plastic ones. It more or less got the job done until it broke. Then I found an electric ball winder that lasted me many years before finally dying last year. It was expensive, but it didn’t owe me anything: I wound countless skeins of yarns into balls on that bad boy before it finally gave up the ghost. (I did take it apart to perform a postmortem in hopes that I could resurrect it, to no avail.)
Since the old electric winder died I’ve been in a quandry. I have one of those Boye electric ball winders, but it does not work well for large jobs and the tension control is not good.
Recently I have been using this winder, which has done a fairly good job:
It winds large skeins: 8 ounces and bigger. That made me happy. What made me not-so-happy is that the metal L-shaped arm that sticks out in front that you feed the yarn through is not firmly affixed to the base of the winder. There is a wing nut that is supposed to hold it into place, but it does not. So for every skein of yarn I wind, I end up turning the handle with one hand and holding the L-shaped arm in place with the other. As you might expect, this is not a terribly comfortable position to be in for more than a few minutes. When one has back and spine issues, it quickly degenerates into unbearable.
So last week I got this:
This is the heavy duty ball winder I ordered online from Nancy’s Knit Knacks.
(Disclaimer: I purchased this ball winder at retail price — it was not sent to me at a discount or free of charge to review, nor was any review solicited from the company. I proactively ordered it because I needed a new ball winder. I mention this only because someone posted in a Ravelry forum recently questioning my integrity and the integrity of a product review, conjecturing that it was likely that I was being compensated for writing a positive review.)
I paid for 2-day FedEx shipping and got an email from Nancy — because they are located one state away from me, she sent it regular FedEx (because it would arrive just as quickly) and refunded me the difference. Nice customer service and attention to detail there.
Before purchasing the winder, I checked out the video tutorials posted on You Tube. There are lots of great tutorials on Nancy’s Knit Knacks YouTube Channel for a number of their products. By viewing the videos, reading material on the website, and reading comments made by other people on Ravelry, I got the impression that this is a company that makes quality tools and stands behind their work.
When the winder arrived, I was pleased to see how well-packaged it was — very little chance of it getting damaged in shipping. I took it out of the box and set it up. It was completely assembled, apart from my needing to attach the table clamps. Nancy’s Knit Knacks had recommended trying it as-is without making any adjustments the first time. (They did include in the box the one tool you need to make adjustments — a nut driver.) I wound a 400-yard skein of sock yarn into a ball with absolutely no problems or issues whatsoever.
This is a big, sturdy ball winder and it is beautifully crafted. The handle turns perfectly smoothly and effortlessly. No added strain on arm and back!
Yes, it is expensive ($250), but for me, totally worth the money. I think this is the last ball winder I will have to buy.
You can purchase a separate “power base” for this winder so you can turn it in to an electric winder. It is not a cheap add-on, but if the power base is crafted with the same quality as the winder, I think it would be worth it for people who need a production winder. Before I got the winder I was considering the possibility of adding on a power base, but don’t think I will. The manual winder works so beautifully for me, I don’t think I need it.
I wound some Wollmeise Merino DK on it this past weekend.
This is a large skein — over 200 grams. 236 grams, to be exact.
The winder handled it beautifully.
The only criticism I have — I think the Nancy’s Knit Knacks website needs to be re-designed — I found it jumbled and confusing. But it is worth digging through — there is a lot of great information there.
Oh, that skein of Wollmeise? Here it is:
Can you tell what it is going to become?
“When the weather is hot and humid, frequent naps are essential to keep up one’s strength!”