I generally buy most of my yarn in the type of skeins that you see in your craft store, but once in a while I will buy yarn online or in a yarn shop and it comes in hanks. Hanks generally need to be wound, as it is not wise to try to crochet or knit directly from them. If you do, you end up with a big tangled mess. One option is to invest in a swift and a yarn winder, but the total for the both of these can run well over $100. Another option is hand winding, which is what I have done in the past. I would usually place the hank around the back of a chair and then use a piece of pvc pipe to wind it into a cake. This is a very time consuming process though and can be a strain on the neck and shoulders if you try to do more than one.
This week JoAnn Fabrics and Crafts had a scratch off coupon in the sales flyer. I was one of the lucky ones who scratched off 60%. I have had my eye on the Boye Electric Yarn Winder, but did not want to pay the full $89.99 for it. Even a 40% off coupon was not enough savings for me. But 60% off ($38.00), heck yeah! I have read all the reviews on this item and it is about 50/50. Some people like it, some people hate it. Here is my take on it.
I spent several hours this afternoon trying it out. The set up is super easy. You just basically need to suction it to a smooth flat surface and then feed the yarn through a few slots. I do not have a swift, so I first tried hanging the yarn around the back of a chair. The first yarn I tried was Berroco Weekend. This yarn is a bit slippery. I unwound some of the yarn and turned on the machine. I didn’t find it necessary to use it at anything more than the lowest speed. I let the unwound yarn feed lightly through my fingers for the slightest bit of tension and then feed into the machine. I would turn it off, then unwind some more yarn. It seemed to be working ok, but then the yarn got all caught up on itself (not in the machine) and turned into a big tangled mess. This was not the fault of the machine, this was me not paying enough attention and needing instant gratification to see it work. I spent way too much time trying to untangle the yarn and then just moved on to another skein of Weekend. It went a little better this time. I laid the hank down on the table and unwound a little bit of yarn at a time, but eventually that got all tangled too. I was starting to realize that because the Weekend is slippery, this might not be the best way to wind it. I then moved on to a skein of Berroco Vintage. I did the same thing and laid it out on the table, unwound a bit and fed it into the machine the same way, feeding lightly through my fingers and then into the machine. This time I was successful and winding the whole hank. The process was: unwind a bit of yarn, turn it on, feed it through the machine, turn off machine. Then repeat the process. I had two hanks of Berroco Vintage wound in under 30 minutes. Not quite as fast as a hand crank winder and swift, but not as slow as completely hand winding. I had also read that it would not wind full skeins of worsted weight. Berroco Vintage is worsted weight, 217 yards, 100 grams. It wound the full skein without issue. Another thing I had read is that it winds the cake very loosely. I did not have this problem and it may be because I created the slight tension of letting it flow through my fingers. The cake was definitely more firm than one I had wound by a local yarn shop with a swift and hand crank winder.
The machine is not the quietest thing out there, but I did not find it to be as noisy as some said. It also gives a little bit of a whine if the yarn is not flowing through it properly.
All in all, I found this machine to be adequate for my needs. I will never have more than a few hanks at a time that would need winding, so I won’t be a power user. This machine is DEFINITELY a step up from hand winding. I am also unlikely to be buying anymore yarn that is slippery, so that will not be an issue for me. If I were to rate it, I would give it a 3.5 out of 5 with 5 being the best.