I love my skein winder. A niddy noddy is a lovely tool, but all too often I'd put off winding yarn from a bobbin because I just couldn't be bothered to do it. So a skein winder is a really useful tool if you can afford one, and if you procrastinate on winding skeins.
Now I have been through several skein winders in my quest for the one true device.
I owned an Ashford Skein Winder, the mark 1 version. And to be frank, Ashford should be ashamed of themselves, because at £80 it was a shockingly poor piece of kit. The method of securing the the upright to the base resulted in a device that wobbled as soon as you used it for a moderate length of time. The adjustment able arms often didn't hold their tension, and the non-adjustable pegs ended up falling out regularly for me. There was no tensioning device either, and the arms were fixed in position making it a pain to store when not in use. The new Mark 2 version is much better, but comes with a hefty rise in price, currently it's around £180.
I also owned a Majacraft skeiner, which wasn't really any better, with the added inconvenience of a triangular base that meant to matter where you put it there was also something sticking out to impale you, and again... the pegs in the arms weren't the best of fits. The free-standing option doesn't seem to be on the Majacraft website anymore, but I did find a few places with stock, and at £150 it's a lot of money for a tool that isn't great.
But this isn't a series about tools I think could be better... it's about bits of kit that I really love.
It's from here.
He's a German maker, I am lucky enough to own one his spinning wheels, which is what led me to the site. It's really well made and feels really solid. Now the site is only in German, but I only spent 1 year studying German at school, and the joy of Google Translate is that it's not that hard to work out what you need to do in order to place an order.
Payment is unfortunately only by bank transfer, so bear that in mind when working out the price (some banks will charge extra for international bank transfers). At the moment here in the UK you can order and won't need to pay extra to receive your order, but that will change after January 1st.
When you're not using it the arms fold up to reduce the space it takes up, this is also how you adjust the diameter of the skein. There's also a built in rotation counter (so you know how many turns you've done, and can then use this method to calculate your yardage), and on the base there's a lazy kate with a tensioning device.
I also use it as a swift to then wind skeins in to balls of yarn. I just reduce the circumference of the skeiner by moving the arms closer together and have slackened the screw holding the flipper on the counter so I can rotate it out of the way so it doesn't click as I rotate the winder.
The centre uses a proper sealed bearing so you never need to worry about nuts tightening or coming undone. The base is heavy, I use this on the floor whilst seated on the sofa, and have never felt the need to clamp it down. The pegs in the arms are completely solid, even after years of abuse there's no hint of a wobble, or danger of them going loose.
It's been the tool I've used to skein miles and miles of yarn, and at no point have I ended up threatening to throw it across the room. It's a little bit more expensive than the new Ashford one, but it's a much better bit of kit, and something you'd prize from my cold dead hands!