How to Hand Wind Yarn Into a Cake


Confession #1: I like to wind yarn.

Its fun. Its an excuse to play with my yarn and when I wind up other knitters’ and crocheters’ yarn (I’ve been known to do that) I get to play with their yarn too. But its more than just play time. A nicely wound yarn cake will save you headache and frustration and make for a more pleasant knitting and crocheting experience.

A yarn cake sits flat on the table. It has a nice easy end to draw out of the center. If its done right, the yarn won’t tangle up and the cake won’t flop or bounce around. A yarn cake as a great and wonderful thing and nearly every yarn shop in the world will wind up your yarn into a cake with their ball winder.

But you don’t need a ball winder to make a yarn cake. You just need a stick. A dowel will work. So will a broom handle, a fat knitting needle, or the empty tube from your next roll of toilet paper. If you want to be fancy-pants about hand winding yarn, you can get a nostepinne. But only really hopeless yarn-geeks bother with those.

Confession #2: I own three nostepinnes.

small cake
I also own a ball winder but sometimes I make yarn cakes by hand and not just for fun. If I only have a small amount of yarn, say 50 yards or less, I wind it into a little cake using a small nostepinne thin stick. That works out much better.





Winding Yarn Into a Cake By Hand



Give it a try because it super easy. You’ll be making yarn cakes in no time at all and believe me, they are worth it. And grab yourself a copy of that yarn cake cozy pattern. Its a freebie and you’ll need something to carry your cakes in right? Right.

Also, if you like free stuff check out:





Print Friendly

Related Content


"There is no failure. Only feedback." - Robert Allen

15 Comments on "How to Hand Wind Yarn Into a Cake"

Notify of
Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted

Thank you for this video! I have seen one where you use a hand mixer but that scares me. My local yarn shop does not like to wind yarn for you when you purchase it. They act like it is a major inconvenience. They did it with my first purchase but warned me they do not have time otherwise. Interesting, since often I am the only one in the shop. I will definitely try this next time! And my husband thanks you too!


You are most welcome! I hope you get all your yarn caked up.

Btw, I have been in one shop that had the swift & ball winder set up but was reluctant to use it. I never could figure out why. *shurg* If you go back, maybe ask teh staff if you can wind it up yourself?

And tell your hubby he’s welcome? Do you put him to work winding yarn? If so, well done!


That’s awesome! I had no idea there was a tool for that, I always just used my thumb actually. I do have a yarn winder (it’s one of the first things my now-hubby bought me <3). I also have an amish swift I would like to recommend because they have no "moving"parts it is just pieces of wood and dowels that the wood turns on so it's *almost* impossible to break! (Unlike an umbrella swift whichI think would break really, really easily.)


Glad you liked it. 🙂 I like to play ball winder&swift too but I still find myself winding by hand every now and then. I betcha you do to.

I have the umbrella swift and I haven’t broken it. Yet. And I probably just jinxed myself.


I’ll try this and thrill my cats no end. They love it when I wind yarn. Heck! they love it when I open the yarn closet.


Ah yes. There is a definite kitty factor to consider during yarn winding. they are sure its a game meant to entertain them.


I first met a nostepinne in a spinning class, and fell in love with the idea. I too have three, small, medium, and a large one! Somehow, I can only find one at a time

Thank you for the video–it helps perfect my technique!


I had the same problem finding all mine for this post! it took forever to dig them all up. One was in with a bag a weaving shuttles (I don’t weave, btw). One was in with some roving. The last one was in my sock drawer. That’s what happens when you have too much stuff I guess.

Glad you liked the vid. Looks at my page views, it seems that this one was a hit. And here I thought it was kinda dull. lol


I have an Amish style swift, too! My husband sat on mine & broke one of the arms. The etsy seller got two new ones right out to me though.
I also have a cool handmade nostepinne, that I traded a hat for! But I only use it for small amounts.
I really love a perfectly wound yarn cake, too ???? ????


Oooo! I would totally trade a hat for a fourth nostepinne. that was a good deal.