Twisting Skeins with a Power Drill

How to hold the yarn and use a drill to make a tidy twisted skein

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We recently wrote an article for PLY Maganize's blog, showing how to use a power drill to twist skeins, as an alternate to hand-twisting. We talk more about why a yarn crafter may want to do this in our article found here:

This is a good DIY method for hobbyists who only twist the occasional skein, if you have higher volume skein-twisting needs, check out the SkeinTwister, our tool for yarn dyers:

We've made a video for this project, check it out!

  • 1 × Power drill with 3-jaw clamping chuck
  • 1 × Metal hook
  • 1 × Paper towel holder or niddy noddy
  • 2 × Clamps
  • 1 × Skein of yarn

  • 1
    Watch our Video!

    It's helpful to watch this process in action, check out the video we made:

  • 2
    Hook the Drill

    You’ll need a power drill with a typical 3-jaw clamping chuck and a hook.  I did a survey of the hooks available at our local hardware store, and even though it’s a little smaller than ideal, I liked the metal one best, even better if you can find one with a pointed tip.  I do NOT recommend a bicycle hook – the plastic coating on these isn’t slick enough and the yarn is more difficult to remove.

    Clamp the hook tightly in your power drill, threads and all. 

    Note: It’s possible to use an electric screwdriver instead, but only if it has clamping jaws.  Most have magnetic hex chucks, which won’t hold a threaded hook.

  • 3
    Rig Something Solid to Pull Against

    The drill & hook is going to be in your hand, on one end of the skein.  The other end will need to be firmly fixed to a table, rod, or shelf, enough that you can pull with 10-15 lbs of force against it.  I settled on two main different ways of doing this.

    Method 1:  Clamp a post/peg to a sturdy table.  I used both a wide paper towel holder (without a bulb at the top), and a PVC niddy-noddy (“release” arm pointed up).  It’s important that your post or peg be at least 1” in diameter, because you want the skein to be held a bit open at this end, even after it’s twisted. 

    Method 2: S-hook to a very sturdy shelf or rod.  This way isn’t bad either, I used the largest S-hook I could find at the hardware store, and also tried a large plastic hanger S-hook.  This method tends to be a little fussier because the skein isn’t held as open at this end, and the ball at the end of the plastic S-hook dragged against the yarn a little when un-hooking it.  I prefer Method 1, but wanted to give you the option to use other items that you might already have around the house.

    I do NOT recommend having a friend hold the other end of the skein – with a power drill, it’s easy to overshoot and end up painfully squeezing their fingers.  You have been warned!

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