How to Wind Yarn into a Cake Tutorial

I’m Marie Segares from Underground Crafter, and I love to play around with new and exciting yarns. In the last few years, the availability of independent yarns has exploded. Every crocheter now has more access to hand-dyed yarns, handspun yarns, and yarns imported in small batches than ever before.

One thing that crocheters may find intimidating about buying yarn from independent companies is that it often comes in a hank and isn’t wound into a ball or a cake. When working on any crochet project, many crocheters agree that winding your yarn into a ball or a cake is much easier than working from a hank of yarn. The reason is that by working from a yarn cake, your yarn won’t get tangled easily. Winding yarn also lets you pull your working yarn from the center, which many crocheters say is a much more smooth way to work.

In this tutorial, I’m going to show you how to wind yarn into a cake using a yarn swift and a yarn winder.

 

How to Wind Yarn into a Cake by Underground Crafter for I Like Crochet 1

 

  1. Start with a yarn swift (at left) and a ball winder (at right).How to Wind Yarn into a Cakel by Underground Crafter for I Like Crochet 2I use an “Amish-style” yarn swift. It’s made of wood and can be easily assembled and then put away just as quickly (which is perfect for apartment living). Follow the instructions for assembling your swift and winder, and set them up close near each other on a flat surface.I use a hand-cranked ball winder. It’s much quieter (and smaller) than the electric versions, and I can control the tension and speed that I’m using to wind the yarn. Be sure that it is tightly clamped onto the surface you are using to wind the yarn.

  2. Gently separate the hank of yarn by pulling it out from where it’s folded, being careful not to pull the strands apart.How to Wind Yarn into a Cake by Underground Crafter for I Like Crochet 3
  3. Place the hank on your swift. Most swifts have multiple pegs to adjust the size of the yarn hank. Use the size where the fit is snug, but not too stretched out.How to Wind Yarn into a Cake by Underground Crafter for I Like Crochet 4
  4. After you have the yarn positioned on the swift, cut the ties. Be careful because at least one of the ties is usually formed with yarn from the hank!How to Wind Yarn into a Cake by Underground Crafter for I Like Crochet 5
  5. Look over the yarn once more, and adjust it if necessary so that there aren’t any twists in it.
    How to Wind Yarn into a Cake by Underground Crafter for I Like Crochet 6
  6. Thread the yarn through the stabilizer on the winder.How to Wind Yarn into a Cake by Underground Crafter for I Like Crochet 7
  7. Stretch a small length of yarn over the top of the winder. (This will be the center pull strand once your yarn is wound.)How to Wind Yarn into a Cake by Underground Crafter for I Like Crochet 8
  8. Start cranking your yarn winder clockwise.How to Wind Yarn into a Cake by Underground Crafter for I Like Crochet 9

  9. Once you feel comfortable, you may crank even faster.How to Wind Yarn into a Cake by Underground Crafter for I Like Crochet 10
  10. Be sure to slow down periodically, especially as you get to the end of the yarn, to check for tangles.How to Wind Yarn into a Cake by Underground Crafter for I Like Crochet 11
  11. Once the yarn is wound, gently remove the “yarn cake” from the winder.How to Wind Yarn into a Cake by Underground Crafter for I Like Crochet 12
  12. I like to tie the label to the outside strand of yarn so that I can identify it later!How to Wind Yarn into a Cake by Underground Crafter for I Like Crochet 13
  13. Don’t forget that your “yarn cakes” can pull from the center.How to Wind Yarn into a Cake by Underground Crafter for I Like Crochet 14

 

The flat bottom makes the “yarn cake” easier to use than a ball of yarn. It sits flat and you don’t have to worry about it rolling away.

Now that you know how to wind your own yarn, go shopping for some indie yarn! You can find lots of options in local yarn shops, at regional fiber festivals, or through online marketplaces.

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Comments
  • Susan Yazluk

    The thumb is the best way. My grandmother ( nonna) taught me as well

    Reply
  • I have a winder (because I travel with my projects all the time and find tangled yarn exceptionally irritating, I re-wind balls into cakes – much better!), but I can’t re-wind a whole ball because it’s rather small. Any ideas where I can find a larger one for a reasonable price?

    Reply
  • Christine

    Check on Amazon, they have a jumbo ball/cake winder. It works great!

    Reply
  • GGMA (Greatgrandma)

    Great tutorial. I knew how to do it but never knew the correct names for the things; hank/was bundle; swift/ was rack; cake /was ball. I have tried all of the methods mentioned and all work well.
    Thanks for the lesson

    Reply
  • I use the yarn winder. If I have an extra large hank of yarn, it is too much for the winder and starts winding underneath the holder and getting caught in the gear. Wish there was a larger holder for larger super sized yarn.

    Reply
  • Check eBay. You can find some really nice yarn winders and swifts at really good prices much of the time.

    Reply
  • Susan Yazluk

    Been winding yarn as my grandmother taught me since I was about twelve. All you need is your Thumb and two fingers on one hand to wined the yarn around with the other hand. Allowing you to make the ball that can be pulled from the middle. No other tools necessary.

    Reply
  • If I get a hank I use my feet to hold it and wind in a ball with my hand, however, I do love the swift and and winder. Are they expensive and where do I find them? Thank you so much for the picture tutorial.

    Reply
  • I do the same thing as Ann, except I use the tube from an empty saran wrap box. It’s very sturdy, gives you something to grip onto as you’re winding and gives a slightly larger centre pull area (yarn’s not so tight when starting) Hey! It’s recycling at it’s finest!

    Reply
  • I don’t use any of these things to wind yarn.
    I just use a “STRAW”.
    With a crochet hook, lace the yarn through the straw
    and then wind the yarn around the straw,
    At the end of the yarn, leave enough to wind around the ball you have made, make a knot to secure it, and then pull the straw from the middle
    of the ball. You have made a ball of yarn with the feed coming from the middle. (No ball rolling around the table or whatever).
    Your only investment is a common drinking straw that you probably have in your house.
    One thing…turn the ball you are winding every four or five turns to keep the ball even.

    Reply
  • Sharon Brown

    I love your yarn swift and ball winder pictorial. I don’t see where I can purchase these items anywhere on the site. I have crocheted for many years and have many yarns that need to be made into usable balls. Great tool! Please let me know how I can obtain these tools. Thank you.

    Reply
  • Thanks for this info. Definitely have this item on my wishlist. In the meantime, I use adjustable office chair with arms as swift and manually wind into a ball. Works great!

    Reply

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