Ashford e-Ball Winders
Ashford recently released an electric ball winder, Yippee, they had my attention. I have been on the lookout for an electric winder for some time but getting them from the US is a costly exercise.
This little gem looked fabulous from the first time I spotted it and after procrastinating for about 3-4 weeks I jumped in and ordered one from The Thread Collective who were posting them on Facebook at the time.
I put my order through and ticked the Express Post box expecting it to be 2-3 weeks away and to be shipped directly from Ashford in New Zealand. I was super dooper surprised when 3 business days later it arrived at my local post office and was shipped the same days as the order was placed from The Thread Collective team in Brisbane.
Stash Diving for Skeins
When I unpacked it I was pretty excited and immediately raided my stash for some yarn to start playing with it.
A quick skim through the instructions, and I was good to get started.
The first yarn I grabbed was a 4 ply pure Merino and shortly after a quick play I wound a really nice cake with ease. I progressed to an 8 ply pure Merino yarn and the results were just as good on the thicker yarn! Yippee... I was pretty happy at this point and keen to get some cakes wound up.
Sadly some of these skein didn't want to play at all. I had to fiddle about and wind more onto the centre shaft than before and I rapidly became disappointed in the little winder.
The yarn would only wind on above the centre grove that it needed to be in, I squeezed it and pushed it down and tried to get it in the middle, but Nope, it wouldn't stay put. I eventually just wound the yarn on and thought I would see if it corrected itself.
It sort of did but then the yarn it started to roll over the edges of the cake and wrap around the centre shaft causing it to loop. I even tried winding it on slowly because I was winding quite fast but nothing really worked well.
I finished the skein with a sinking feeling, I had paid a lot for this little winder and couldn't work out what was happening. Some of the sock yarn skeins just wouldn't do the right thing for me at all, they were pretty bad and all over the place. If I was going to wind skeins for customers then I had to get this working better than it was right now.
Ok, I was starting to think I might need some help here... but at the same time wondering how hard can it be?
So lets have a look at plan "B"...
- Stop what I was doing.
- Make a Tea/coffee and sit down in another room.
- Grab the instructions again and have another read through. Properly this time!
That Ah...Ha!! Moment
The instructions mention that you need to pay attention to the a couple of things, first up make sure the yarn is feeding onto the centre at the groove.
Then when you are feeding in of the yarn, it specifically said that the yarn needs to be fed in at a 45 degree angle.
Even though I was trying to do this with my hand, I have to admit I wasn't trying that hard and not realising this was crucial to the quality of the cake. It actually makes the yarn go directly to the groove on the main shaft.
Putting the pieces together over the cup of coffee and a chocolate biscuit, I decided to try the next sock skein and make sure of the angle of the yarn.
I fed the yarn onto the winder and wound it a couple of times and it went right to the centre of the shaft exactly where it should have. *phew*
The whole skein wound onto the winder with ease and apart from putting a little tension on it with my fingers it finally wound a perfect cake. Yippee happy little dance and time for more coffee :)
Practice makes perfect
I now use my winder on my work table in the studio with more space to spread and work thing out.
So I grabbed a clamp that I use for other things and popped it on the edge of the table and run the yarn under a gap in the clamp. This worked beautifully and I could adjust it easily to make sure the angle was ok, I also had plenty of room to hold a little tension on the yarn on the left hand side of the clamp so it wound on nicely and to take some of the flip flop out of the yarn as it comes off the swift.
My thought on the Ashford E-Ball Winder
It winds a really nice cake but can be a little temperamental with some yarns in particular the sock yarns I tried. This may be due to them being Superwash and a little more slippery than pure wool.
If your yarn is a little on the slippery side, go slower and dont try to rush things. This little winder will do the job very well if you take your time.
I know a slower wind on speed will give far better results but this seems to be a slower winder. It is still a very good electric cake winder, just not as speedy as I thought it would be.
Overall, I am very happy with my little Ashford e-winder and highly recommend it.
While it wont save me much time when winding cakes for my lovely customers, it will save my back and shoulders from a Lot of hand cranking on those little manual plastic ones.
I purchased my Ashford e-ball Winder from The Thread Collective in Brisbane and highly recommend them and this little electric winder.