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Review: Lacis Yarn Ball Winder

I’m fairly proficient at hand-winding center-pull balls of yarn… so I put off getting a ball winder for a long time. However, a few weeks ago, I made the move: I purchased a Yarn Ball Winder, and I’m so glad I did!

My hesitations
I’ve worked in 2 different yarn stores over the past few years, and both had very high-quality wooden ball winders. And, even those (very expensive) winders had trouble winding certain skeins of yarn. Silk? Way too slippery… often wound up in a lopsided ball.

So, I was nervous about purchasing a ball winder. I wasn’t prepared to buy a pricey one, and I wondered, ‘how good could a cheap plastic one be?’ Turns out, for under $30, you can have a ball winder that (at least for at-home winding) is superb!

The ball winder
I purchased the Lacis Ball Winder from Amazon. It’s plastic, under $30 and came with mixed reviews. Most of the reviews were great, and (in my opinion) many of the negative reviews seemed to come either from folks who received a defective unit (and that can happen with any product!) or people who weren’t using the ball winder correctly. So, I gave it a try.

The test
I started out winding some balls, and they all came out beautifully. Then, I gave it the real test: a skein of lace-weight 100% silk yarn. And here’s how it did:

Success! No slipping… just one beautifully wound ball!

The cons
I wound a whole lot of yarn! Here are what I think are the negatives of this ball winder:

  • The clamp is only 1.25″. So, for me (who lives with a lot of uber-thick Ikea furniture), the only place I could clamp the winder was on the arm of a chair. This may or may not be a problem for you.
  • The yarn feeder needs to be pulled firmly to be engaged. If you yank on the skein a lot, the feeder will become loose (this happened to me on about 1 out of 10 balls). Having a swift would minimize this problem.
  • It’s a small capacity winder. If you want to wind skeins larger than 4 oz, you’ll need the jumbo size. (4 ounces is the recommended maximum… I squeezed on much more!)

The pros
There’s a lot to love about this winder!

  • It’s inexpensive: for under $30 you get a winder that will take care of almost all of your yarn-winding needs!
  • The winder handled bulky and lace-weight yarns wonderfully. It also would very slippery yarns with ease.
  • It’s lightweight and portable.

Wanna see how much I love it? The winder did a number on my stash:

Hooray!

So, if you’ve been thinking about getting a ball winder, I recommend it!

16 COMMENTS

  1. I have the same winder, and I agree with everything you’ve said about it!

    I find even with smaller skeins of yarn, my cake is getting a little too big for it by the end, and the yarn is easily caught up in the mechanism or slips over the base of the cone (if that makes sense!). We really struggled to fit my 150g skein of Wollmeise onto it!

  2. Samantha SAYS...

    I have the same yarn ball winder and I love mine too! I once bought an inexpensive ball winder for $20 but My Lacis has lasted much longer and I have had no problems with it.

  3. I love my winder and swift. The problem is that my furniture is too thick for either one to clamp on to. I have to use my sewing machine’s table top to anchor them.

  4. Jan SAYS...

    I am very new to knitting and winding my yarn. I bought a winder but was told I needed to buy a swift as well. I was able to coax my hubby into pretending to be a swift and it worked well. I was wondering if it is something I can do on my own? Did you use an extra set of arms? 🙂

    • Having a swift certainly makes it easier, but I don’t have one… I wrap the yarn around my knees, and sit on the floor (since my winder is on the arm of a chair, it’s low enough for this to work)!

    • Mickinzee Bray SAYS...

      I’ve made one out of coat hangers, scrap yarn, a large oatmeal container and a spinning cake stand. Took my inspiration from the following link (http://webeccasays.blogspot.com/2008/05/tilta-swift.html).

      I used metal hanger so I could adjust the shape a bit and replace a standard box with an oatmeal container. I had to make the hooks of the hangers a bit smaller to fit the container, but the fit is nice and tight. I also had to add some weight to the container to compensate for the extra height.

  5. Jan SAYS...

    Great idea. My winder will clamp onto my coffee table so that would work for me too. Thanks 🙂

  6. I am thinking about getting a different winder. I have a KnitPicks one & either I am doing something wrong, though my yarn store says I am not, or it is messing up somewhere.

    @Jan This is my swift {http://someyarn.wordpress.com/2008/04/29/pvc-swiftskeiner-tutorial/} I love it. Can’t afford the pricey ones & anything wooden that comes into the house is chewed on by the dogs, lol. So I needed plastic or metal. The gentlemen at Lowe’s were nice enough to cut the pipes for me & then it was just a snap together.

  7. Janet SAYS...

    I just bought a yarn winder today. I happen to have a stand from Pampered Chef that is used to hold the apple/peeler device. My yarn winder fits on it just great and my husband and son are enjoying winding yarn for me. I bought the wooden stand at a rummage sale for $2.00 and now it has multiple uses. I do not sell kitchen products but wanted to share what works for me. I hope it give others ideas to use things they already own.

    • Thank you so much for sharing, Janet!

  8. RuthEsther SAYS...

    Newbie here. Why do you wind your yarn? What’s wrong with using it straight from the skein?

    • Hi Ruth! When the yarn comes in a hank (check out this post for photos), it’s very difficult to work with straight away, and will get tangled if you don’t wind it into a ball.
      If your yarn already comes in a neat ready-to-work package, then you don’t need to wind it!

  9. patricia wilson SAYS...

    hello, I have a wool winder with no brand and with the feeder out front and then two extra feeders – one each side – I am having a lot of trouble remembering how to initially feed the wool on to start the winding process. can you help – I could send a photo of the winder if you think you can assist me – I did buy it many years ago and remembered it was really expensive, but with no brand, google is no help. many thanks patricia

    • Hi Patricia-
      I’m sorry, but I don’t recognize what you’re describing… maybe a fellow reader will chime in?

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