There are several tools for winding your finished yarn - the first decision to make is whether to wind into a skein or a ball - and this is determined by what you are going to do with it next.
If you want to dye your yarn you will need a skein. If you are planning to knit or crochet your finished yarn you will want a ball - ideally a centre pull ball as this won't then roll all over the place as you work. If you are planning to weave then you might possibly want both a skein and a ball at different stages of the preparation process.
SKEIN WINDING TOOLS
I just love the name niddy noddy and it is actually quite apt for this tool - when in use it nods up and down as you wind your yarn onto it. It is shaped like a capital "I" except that one of the cross bars is at right angles to the other. Niddy Noddies come in many sizes including a tiny one by Ashford that slots together for use and comes apart for easy carriage - great for portability. There are different sized fixed ones and also adjustable ones for different sizes of skeins - although these can slip when winding once they've had a bit of use.
There are several designs of swift - they're basically tools that spin around a central shaft and wind a skein. My favoured style of swift is an "umbrella swift" as these are adjustable for different sizes of skeins - and anyway I just love the way they look! With an umbrella swift it is quite easy to measure a length of yarn and then adjust the swift to create that size of skein. They're quite big though and not terribly portable.
BALL WINDING TOOLS
MECHANICAL BALL WINDERS
These come in many designs - the most commonly available are the plastic ones - cheap to buy and do a perfectly adequate job. Occasionally bits fly off mine and I have to put it back together again but all in all it does what I want it to do. It is also possible to buy a variety of hand made wooden ones - which I would imagine are better quality - but come with a substantially higher price tag.
This is in essence a fat stick turned and marked on which a ball can be wound by hand - I've not used one - indeed I've not actually seen one in the flesh - only in photos. They are very portable, have no mechanical parts to wear or go wrong and can be very beautiful. However I imagine it takes a little longer to wind a ball on one of these by hand than it does on a mechanical ball winder where you just turn a handle - although carefully winding a ball by hand may be quite rewarding in itself.
I would like to add a few photos - but am having a few problems with my computer at the mo' so will add them later - along with some useful links.
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