I recently posted a video on YouTube of the swift (and ball winder, the New Wool Winder from Royal) I got from Paradise Fibers, the Super Swift II. Someone commented that they were thinking of getting a ball winder, and would it hold a standard skein of yarn, specifically Lion Brand Homespun. I had never used the ball winder for anything other than in conjunction with the swift to wind hanks. As you may know, Homespun comes ready to use, it is not necessary to wind it into a center pull ball. I do know some people who prefer to rewind yarn, and while I have never done it, this question made me curious if the ball winder would accomodate your average skein of yarn, should I ever choose to rewind.
So I performed a test, using the LB Homespun in question, which is a bulky yarn and comes in 6 oz/170 gram skeins (that's 185 yards) and a skein of Mainstays yarn. Mainstays is a brand marketed by Wal-Mart; it is a 4 ply worsted weight yarn and comes in 7 oz/198 grams. Don't ask me how many yards it is, because I am not mathematically gifted enough to figure it out.
The Homespun resulted in a super sized ball, which did fit on the ball winder, however as I neared the end, it began to wind itself around the bottom of the disc the yarn sits on as it winds. I didn't have much trouble removing it from the ball winder though. The ball of yarn is much too loose in my opinion, but I suppose that isn't of importance.
The Mainstays yarn, I decided to hold in my left hand just to give it a little drag as I wound with my right hand. This resulted in a tighter ball of yarn, but it was still a fairly good sized ball. Not something I can imagine conveniently fitting into a knitting bag along with a book or half finished project. Unless you have a very roomy bag! At the end, I also had an issue with the yarn beginning to wrap around the winder, and I had a bit more trouble removing it.
After this unscientific test, I think I prefer to leave my average skeins of yarn as they come and only wind hanks. Now, if you do like to rewind your yarn, there is the Jumbo Ball Winder V2, which would probably be a better choice as far as preventing the yarn from winding around the machine. But, at $199 a pop, well, I'd rather spend that much money on yarn! Depending on how much and and how bulky the yarn you want to wind, perhaps you will find $199 a good investment.
Here is a picture of the results of my experiment. The LB Homespun is on the right, Mainstays on the left.