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How to use a ball winder

How to Use a Ball Winder - a video from FreshStitches and Shiny Happy World

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Today, I’ve put together a little video to show you how to use a ball winder.

What is a ball winder?

A ball winder* is a handy device that allows you to make neat center-pull yarn balls (also called ‘cakes’). They’re a great alternative to hand-winding yarn, and contrary to popular belief, aren’t terribly expensive.

About the Lacis Ball Winder

Specifically, I’m going to show you how to use the ball winder that I own, the Lacis Wool Yarn Ball Winder*. Why this one?

In my opinion, this is the best ball winder for the at-home crafter: it’s inexpensive and very reliable. You can read my full review about the winder, by clicking here.

However, I’ve read some not-so nice things about this winder in online reviews: saying that it doesn’t work properly. Unless the reviewer received a defective model, I think the problems experienced come from improper installation/usage of the ball winder.

So, I’m going to show you how to install, tension and use the winder… and you’ll be a happy camper!

The Video

To view the window in full-screen mode (which is probably easier to see), click the icon in the lower right corner of the insert.

With proper installation and usage, I think you’ll find that your winder works like a dream!



  1. My old roommate used that same chair with her ball winder. Looked exactly the same. Rather eerie to be watching your video, because I remember quite a few times working with that same setup.

    • Haha! Gotta love the ‘Ikea-style’ setup 🙂

  2. I love my current ball winder ( but it is electric and noisy, which means that when I have the sudden urge to wind balls of yarn at 10 p.m., I can’t unless I want my next door neighbors to kill me. (Oh, the joys of apartment living!) I completely trust your review – and the fact that you’ve made a video so I can use it properly is even more awesome! – so now I’ll have to add the Lacis to my list :).

  3. nice video – you make it very clear. i don’t have a ball winder, but after watching, i kind of feel the need to wind my shelves of yarn into pretty little balls…i wonder if that would be space saving?

    • I love the look of nice balls on my shelf!
      I’m not sure if it’s space saving, but I find it very helpful for getting a nice look at all of my yarn at once… sometimes when they’re in skeins, I find them getting smooshed…

  4. This is a basic Q: but why the need for a winder in the first place? I just wind up the excess by hand, OR is this for spinning your own wool?

    • @Rachel-
      For me, it’s an issue of time. I work with a lot of yarn (sometimes I’m winding multiple skeins a day), and so the amount of time I save by using a winder is oodles!

  5. I think that’s the same ball winder I have! Great video!

  6. Max SAYS...

    Yippee, I just got the same ball winder!! And I had the exact same thing, all my ikea furniture is too thick. But I have the exact same chair too (LOL) so I’ll use that!! So smart! And thank you so much for the instructional movie, it;s so clear, very helpful. Do you have a special way to mark your balls of yarn, so you know what yarn it is?

    • To mark the balls, I take the ball band, fold it up and stuff it in the center of the wound ball 🙂

  7. Tangerine SAYS...

    I just finally got a ball winder. I had been waiting to find a good price, and was on Ebay looking at replacement needles for a knitting machine, and on a whim I did a search for ball winder and there it was! Its base is exactly like yours and attaches exactly like yours (to my kitchen chair!) but it has a little spiny roller to guide the yarn into that crisscross pattern and a shorter tension rod. It also came with 2 cones, which you are supposed to use to wind, use, and store the yarn. The cones are smooth so all I have to do is slide my newly wound ball right off. I am so tickled about this, I had several hanks of yarn that I hesitated to use or wind into a ball because of some tangly experiences in my past and because of renegade yarn balls I had to chase. Love this thing!