How to Fix a Broken Knitpicks Ball Winder

by Isabella

Posted on October 23, 2020

*this post includes affiliate links: which means at no extra cost to you I receive a small commission if you click through and purchase from my links!

If you’ve found your way here, chances are your yarn is a mess (kinda looks like the rings of Saturn exploded and got tied up?) and you’re super frustrated. Take a deep breath. I’ve got good news and I’ve got bad news.

Good news: if your Knitpicks yarn ball winder is misbehaving, chances are I know what is wrong and can help you fix it. Bad news? It’s kinda a ticking time bomb until that thing gives up on life completely. More on that shortly. Apparently, this is a pretty common problem with this product, but there are not a ton of resources out there on how to troubleshoot it. This post will be a bit of a review of the product, as well as walking you through my experience in “fixing” it. This video will walk you through taking it apart, fixing it, and putting it back together- I hope it helps!

*Please note, messing with any part of the winder voids any warrantee that it might have had. Also, rumor has it if you get in touch with Knitpicks they will replace it for you.

The Knitpicks ball winder is fairly popular and is definitely a budget friendly option. It’s less than $20.00 and you can find it on Amazon as well as through Knitpicks , so it’s pretty accessibly. But it’s one of those “ya get what you pay for” situations. I didn’t want to splurge on a more expensive one (spoiler: I ended up having to buy one after just over a year of owning the other), so I opted for this popular budget option. And I paid for it in many other ways, multiple other times. I will have a review coming up soon of the replacement I got that I LOVE (it’s a Stanwood and it’s incredible), but let me give you a summary of this Knitpicks one.

Mainly, it is plastic. It’s very light weight which you might think is nice, but it actually leads to it being kind of jumpy and not smooth in its winding. Inside there is a set of plastic gears, one is a peg about the size of the nail of my pinky finger, and one flat one about the size of, hmmm, maybe about the size of the top of a coffee mug. The issue with this is the big gear slips off the little gear and cannot and will not put itself back on. It’s kinda a silly design, honestly. Big toothed disk spinning rapidly over and over and over again around an itty bitty toothed peg. Over time, it just jumps off. Good news is, it’s pretty easy to take it apart and pop it back together. A screw driver, a couple screws, and boom, you’re good.

I fixed mine once and was able to use it for another 3 or 4 months without incident. But then it happened again. This time I recognized immediately (and saved the yarn!) and went to taking it apart to fix it again.

Now here’s the bad news bit…The plastic bits are held together with screws. Metal screws. Metal screws directly in plastic. Spinning around over and over. Have you guessed the issue yet? The second time I went to go take it apart, the screw holding the disk gear in was completely and totally stripped. JoJo and I spent a good 20+ minutes fiddling with it and the screw was going no where. He ended up brute forcing the gears back together and we were able to get the winder spinning properly again. But I was very hesitant to try and actually wind yarn on it, cause I was not about to wreck another skein on it. So that’s when I ordered the Stanwood (no regrets!)

So in summary, you can fix a knitpicks ball winder. But chances are it will break again. So if you are in the market for a sturdy, reliable winder, don’t get that one. If you need to just patch yours up while you wait for a better option, I hope this tutorial helped you out. Let me know if you have any questions! If you’ve found yourself here, I am sorry, and I hope your yarn is okay!

Side note: in case your curious, I do have the Knitpicks wooden swift, and I have to say, after about a year and a half and a lot of use, I have no complaints on that product! I think the downfall of the winder is the plastic on metal combo, but the swift is wooden, works smoothly and is reliable in my experience!!

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