Yarn swifts allow you to quickly and effortlessly wind crochet or knitting yarn into a nice little ball. They also prevent you from having to tug or unravel more yarn than you really need to while working.
These handy little tools can be obtained from knitting shops and online stores. They usually cost anywhere between $20 and $100. However, did you know that you can actually make one yourself using common tools found in your home? It’s true!
This article guides you through a step-by-step process of making your own DIY yarn winder. Let’s get started!
Step 1: Gather the Tools You Need
Before we get started, you’ll first need to make sure you have everything you need to make your DIY yarn winder. This includes the following:
- 2 toilet paper rolls or a cling film/foil tube
- Superglue and PVA glue
- Utility knife and wire cutters
- Cutting mat
- Narrow duct tape
- Metal ruler
- Awl (for adding a hole in the cardboard)
- Wire (about 30cm or 12in)
- Jewelry pliers or a pen
- Heavy book or clamp
- Yarn bowl (optional)
Don’t be intimidated by the number of materials required for this project. Since most of these items can easily be found in your home, you won’t need to go out of your way and buy any of the mentioned tools.
If you don’t have cardboard to hand, use cereal boxes or corrugated cardboard packaging, instead.
Step 2: Create the Toilet Roll Base
Take one of your toilet paper rolls, press it flat, and cut it at a diagonal 45-degree angle.
If you’re using a cling film or a kitchen roll, you don’t have to reinforce it as they’re already quite durable. Toilet rolls are a different story; since they’re quite flimsy, we’ll need to strengthen them a bit.
In a separate sheet of paper, write down the measurements of the tube’s length and diameter. Using the measurements you’ve listed, cut a couple of cardboard strips of the same width.
You’ll then need to cut these strips into 4 lengths, 2 per tube, so they’ll easily fit inside the toilet roll. Create a slot in each card so they’ll fit together at 90 degrees when combined.
Once done, you’ll need to insert the slotted-together pieces into the tubes. This will add the strength it needs to prevent the toilet roll from collapsing in on itself. Tape the card pieces securely against each other to keep them in place.
Step 3: Make a Stand
Take a strip of corrugated cardboard and cut it to a simple rectangular shape. It could be as large or small as you want. I cut mine at approximately 8.5 x 5 inches.
You’ll then need to cut 2 similar-sized rectangles, with the only difference being that you’ll leave a sort of small, rectangular flap on one of the cardboard’s longer ends. It should look like an inverted T. The extra section should measure around 2.25 x 2 inches.
Glue these three layers together but keep the extra sections unglued. The cardboard without the extra piece should be at the bottom.
Once the glue has dried, cut a hole on one side of the cardboard. The hole should be large enough for the toilet roll to rotate freely inside. Don’t cut too close to the edge; leave at least an inch between them.
Step 4: Make a Yarn Holder
Take the rolls you’ve made earlier and cover both holes with cardboard. The covers (or “hats”) should be slightly larger than the tube’s holes so you can easily glue them shut. Use superglue so it stays firmly in place.
As soon as the covers dry, take one of the tubes (the straight one) and create a 10-millimeter slit in the middle. Place it aside.
Cut a 3.75-inch circle out of a new corrugated cardboard. This will hold up your ball of yarn. Glue this circle on top of the diagonally cut tube. Take your straight tube and glue it on the other side of this cardboard circle. It should look a bit like a small plumbing system.
Take another piece of cardboard and cut out a square that’s about the same width as the circle you’ve previously cut out. Then, using a sharp utility knife, cut out an asterisk-like pattern into the cardboard.
The resulting hole should be wide enough to fit the diagonally cut tube inside. The triangles should point upwards towards the tube so you can glue it against the tubes walls.
Leave to dry.
Step 5: Add the Wires
Take a wire and measure the distance between the cardboard’s base and halfway up the tube you’ve constructed. In my case, the wire was about 3.5 inches.
Use a pair of pliers to help you create a sort of spiral on one end of the aluminum wire. Coil it at least twice.
Then, take the cardboard base and add a hole using an awl in the middle of the flaps. Make sure it’s at least 3 inches away from the other hole you’ve cut on the side of the cardboard.
Once done, push the wire through the hole you’ve created and glue it in place by creating another spiral pattern in the bottom. From there, cut a brand new piece of cardboard at about the same size as the cardboard flap and stick it on top of the coiled wire to keep it securely in place.
Step 6: Assemble the Parts
Here’s the exciting part: assembly! We’re almost done. Push the tube straight through the hole you’ve made on the cardboard. Then, make a cardboard disc using the same asterisk-like pattern you’ve done earlier.
Fit this new cardboard over the diagonally cut tube, making sure that the asterisk triangles are pointing downwards. Glue the triangles in place to make sure nothing is loose. Once dry, wrap the tube with duct tape.
On the bottom of the diagonal tube, create a simple handle by gluing several stacks of small squares to form a turning mechanism. Cover the rough edges with duct tape. You can also use a crank handle if you have it available.
Step 7: Test It Out
Once you’ve finished the assembly, you’re basically done. But, of course, you need to make sure it’s working well!
This DIY yarn winder won’t stand without support, so you need a heavy book or a small table clamp to keep it in place.
If you decide to use a book, simply place it on top of the cardboard (the side without the tube). You’ll then need to feed the end of a yarn ball into the guide and down in between the slit on top of the yarn holder tube.
Use a yarn bowl to keep the tension in the yarn. Otherwise, you’ll have to run it through your hands. Make sure the yarn’s tension is evenly maintained and doesn’t go slack.
Once everything’s in place, turn the base of the diagonally cut tube in a clockwise manner to wind the yarn. If the yarn winder spins, it works!
Step 8: Make It Pretty!
There’s no ‘right’ way to make your DIY yarn winder pretty. As long as you avoid covering the moving parts, anything goes! You can paint it, color it, or add pieces of book pages or stickers on the cardboard. Also, make sure to cover unsightly corners and edges with duct tape!
Once you’ve made your yarn winder nice and pretty, you’re pretty much done! There are a ton of other ways to make a DIY yarn winder, but this was the easiest method I’ve found. Plus, you have everything you need right in your house!
Since this yarn winder is mostly made of cardboard, it isn’t as durable or as fancy as store-bought winders. However, it gets the job done, and it gets it done right!
Not only will this DIY yarn winder save you a good couple of bucks, but it’ll give you the satisfaction of having made something that actually works.
Can You Wind a Ball of Yarn Without Using a Yarn Winder?
Yes, of course! You don’t need a yarn winder to make a yarn cake. You can actually roll it by hand with the help of a few tools.
To do this, you’ll first need a thick stick. The handle of a broom, an empty tube of toilet paper roll, a marker, or a rolling pin will do quite well. If you have it, use a nostepinne.
Draw the yarn up and at an angle from the bottom right to the upper left, then give your stick a small turn. Wind and turn, wind and turn. You’ll then get a nice criss-cross pattern. Keep spinning until you make a nice, tight ball.
Making your own yarn winder isn’t as difficult as it might initially seem. As long as you have a few spare pieces of cardboard, a tissue roll, duct tape, glue, and wire, you’ll be able to make your own DIY yarn winder in just under an hour. Good luck!
I’m a stay at home mom with our two kids. I really enjoy doing crafts with my toddler however, that is typically a challenge with her limited attention span, messiness, and desire to always have clean hands. So, I’m always looking for ways to make crafting an enjoyable experience and fond memory for the both of us.