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Ever since I got my “GnomeAcres” yarn a few weeks back, and starting my “Hitchhiker” scarf with “Aurora Gnomealis”, and then proceeded to wind the yarn into a ball I’ve been thinking about getting a ball winder. I’ve been searching the internet what was around, and what was affordable and what they looked like, where they came from and all that jazz – almost as obsessively as I stalk the GnomeAcres website.


None of the local craft stores near me sell anything like it. In fact, they don’t even sell swifts. It’s all about the big commercial yarn – again, something that I’ve been looking into this last few weeks – looking for UK based indie dyers as it’s great to support local businesses [but I am totally going to buy the entire GnomeAcres shop when I win the Lottery]. I like the unique-ness of the indie dyed yarn, and in fact will look into what it will take to dye some of my own and see what happens with that.

Today when I went out and confirmed that no where local sold any hint of a yarn winder I decided that there had to be another way to do it. Something that wouldn’t require expensive, plastic looking equipment – to the point where I was imagining what it would take to engineer one – then realised that I hadn’t tried the one resource that has been a lifesaver in the development of my knitting skills…. YouTube.

I figured that there had to be a way to wind a skein/hank of yarn into a ball/cake that I would be able to use, and something that wouldn’t require the fancy equipment that I had originally thought. And there was. All I needed was a toilet roll tube. Classy.

Here is the first one I did, which was the remaining yarn from the last Heliopath Vest I made:

This went well but for one exception; the yarn that I hadn’t yet worked got all tangled, so I had to spend a great deal of time sorting that out. When I weighed it I think there was a little under 100g, which I want to make into one of Sarah Keen’s “Elephant” but I am unsure wether there will be enough as it’s an Aran weight yarn…

I thought I would try again to perfect the skill – which doesn’t take much to be honest. Here are the before and after pictures:


The process is really simple:

  • Take a toilet tube [one devoid of paper…]
  • Drop the working end through the tube with a decent length on it in order to keep the working end away from the cake that will be made
  • Wrap the yarn around the tube a few times to give it a base
  • Start turning the tube and continue wrapping the yarn around the tube until you run out of yarn
  • Tuck the end of the yarn into one or two of the wraps you’ve made so that it’s secured and won’t come loose as you’re knitting from the cake.

I used this video to teach me.

I’m so pleased that I found this today; I would have committed money into getting a yarn winder for no real reason. Of course, I don’t know how this will work out when I need to wind my lace weight Fyberspates yarn, so watch this space to see how that happens!

That’s all for now folks,