Knit Without Ceasing, Rheumatoid Arthritis

Swift Winding

In my ongoing effort to reduce certain kinds of activity to accommodate my diagnosis of Rheumatoid Arthritis, I am looking for a ball-winder, to turn skeins of yarn into tidy balls, ready for knitting. I seem to be able to knit as long as I don't do it for too long a stretch, and I currently have three (or maybe four, if I can find that Gryffindor hat) projects going on different size needles.

A stubborn person who also enjoys touching yarn, I have for many years tormented members of my family, forcing them to help me wind balls of yarn by hand. I have used chairs, too, but they cannot talk back and apparently I like that part of the process, too.

Pure Luck would have willingly given me a ball winder for Christmas last year or the year before, but I really couldn't tell him exactly what I wanted or where to find this vague item. I foresaw this as another kind of family activity, since I am technically less-than-ept. This may just be a new way to torture family members, not sure, but I really need one. At this point, anything that will facilitate my knitting obsession practice is welcome. Knitting is calming at a time when I've basically been prescribed stress reduction. But winding balls of yarn by hand? Not so calming.

On the Internet I see everything from $25 plastic versions to $200 umbrella swifts. Knitters, can you help me? Any thoughts, suggestions, recommendations? All input appreciated!

P.S. If you read this far…

I am nearing comment #1000 on this blog. It's not very many compared to the vast number I received at Set Free, but it's a milestone and I like to mark them. If you are Commenter #1000, there will be a little prize in it for you!

17 thoughts on “Swift Winding”

  1. As much as you love to knit and as soothing as it can be for your spirit, I am hoping those much more knowledgeable than me about such contraptions will have something to suggest which will fit the bill perfectly. :c) Love and hugs to you friend.

  2. Hello again! I borrowed a fairly basic (she said it cost about $80) wooden swift from a friend when I made my tall son’s sweater last winter, and after I figured it out, it worked wonderfully. I didn’t have a ballwinder, which would’ve made it supereasy, but I was struck by the easier-ness (sorry) of the swift. Marie’s was wooden, with a spool at the top to make the arms go out as wide as you needed and a spool at the bottom to clamp it to the table. I THINK it was maple. I looked around for a bit after that, but decided it was far more communal and reductionist for us to share hers. I did find a lot of options, though. SO glad you can/are knitting again!
    PS Have you ever read any Jasper Fforde? His series that starts with The Eyre Affair might tickle your imagination and your brain. I listened to the newest one (First Among Sequels) in the car during a long trip recently and remembered all over how MUCH I like him. And I am going to try JSF!

  3. hi managed to get into comment today (yippee) read you most days and love what you write about and the way you write it
    So sorry to hear of the RA. You deserve better. My mother was a knitter and loved crocheting too (now her sight is failing and she has very bad arthritis in her fingers) and so I have memeories of winding yarn with and for her … long ago though.
    I am reading the Eyre Affair as we speak 🙂 co-incidence?

  4. The Woolery has a wonderful Staunch jumbo ball winder – it is wooden and really easy to use. My husband got that for me a few years ago along with the metal and plastic umbrella swift. These things make my life so much nicer. Check them out at All in all, I think it is about 90.

  5. I got Cordeliaknits a wooden swift from eBay a few years ago. It was actually made by the lister’s husband and if you check on eBay for Swift, you might find it. It is a thing of beauty and I don’t think it cost as much as $80, maybe 40. I”m intrigued by the wooden ball winder as a possible future present for Cknits since I think the plastic one she has is ugly (but useful!)

  6. Perhaps on your next visit to the local yarn store they could advise you. Mine is really good about thinks like that! And, they will wind any yarn I buy there for free.

  7. I was also going to suggest the yarn store–I don’t knit, but I go in yarn stores to touch the yarn. I’ve seen the winder things at a couple of stores, and they’re always telling people they’ll wind the stuff too, no charge. It’s not quite as convenient if you don’t have a store in your area, but maybe they can hook you up with one of your own.
    Good luck, songbird. I know you will love more regular knitting again. 🙂

  8. I don’t want to be terribly negative, but if you do decide to order from the Woolery please be certain to follow up on your order – last summer I tried to order spinning supplies from them, and it turned into a debacle of lost orders, over charging, and horrific customer service.
    I hope you find the ball winder you want and need, so you can keep doing this fibery thing you love. I am a knitter too, so appreciate it’s soothing nature.

  9. No advice, but watching the lady at QuarterStitch winding my wool was part of the pleasure of the whole shopping experience there.
    Hope you find a good solution.

  10. I don’t know from winders but maybe I’ll be commenter #1000–I’m not sure I’ve had 1000 comments altogether since I started blogging, so I’m immpressed!

  11. My mom has a wooden swift and a plastic ball winder because, as she says, the bigger thing should be the prettier thing. I guess that’s if you can’t afford both to be pretty? But I really do love to look at that wooden swift she has.
    Glad you are making this investment. May it rejoice you!

  12. I know zero about knitting, much to my dear mother’s regret (God rest her soul). I hope this brings you much peace and lots of joy.

  13. As a former yarn store worker, I can say that the standard set-up is plastic winder, wooden swift, and I’m guessing that the plastic has the advantage over wood for the winder because the yarn clings to the winder pretty tightly (that hole in the center disappears when you pull it off) so you want a slicker surface on the winder. While on the swift you want a little more texture to keep the yarn in place while you set it up.
    As an osteoarthritis sufferer, I think you want the ballwinder, too, not just the swift. My practice is still to wind by hand with the yarn around my knees, but I’m wavering more every year, and I find myself much happier to be knitting from yarn put up in balls rather than skeins.
    The ballwinder will also leave you with balls you can pull from either end everytime. It’s possible to wind these yourself, but a little tricky.
    (And $200 sounds like a serious luxury surcharge.)

  14. p.s. So glad to see Wil Gafney’s book on your blog–I’m terrible about clicking through!–since she’s a member of my minyan. Yeah. Complicated spiritual practices abound.

  15. No ball winder knowledge here. I can barely get my prayer shawls finished!
    I’m glad knitting gives you a place of peace and calm and that you are finding a way to do it.
    Pax, C.

  16. Nope, God_guurrlll, I’m afraid we got there earlier! redzils is the winner, and I’ll post something later in the weekend about her prize!

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