Product Review: U-nitt MH701 High Speed Ball Winder

Okay, so I’m tough on a ball winder.  If it doesn’t wind properly on the first go, or it’s not perfect, I rewind it.  That means I often wind a hank twice, and I’m not delicate about it.  I respect the yarn treating it nicely, but a ball winder has got to do its job, I don’t want to baby it.

If I’m tough on a ball winder you should see what my kids have done.  Grinding and snapping, and tangling yarn in the gears. I’ve owned three other previous ball winders; one economy brand, and two mid-range ones of the same brand.  My husband is great at fixing things, so he would fix them when they broke until they could be fixed no more.

When my last winder broke I thought I’d just wind balls by hand.  One hank of laceweight changed my mind.

So I took to finding a indestructible, table-mounted ball winder. I think I’ve found it. The U-nitt MH701 high speed Ball Winder. Even it’s name seems more about functionality than anything else.  I love this winder. Why?

The all metal gears: All metal gears was the selling feature I could not resist.  My others all died a geary death.  One from striped gears, and the other two from snapped gears, once just a few days after buying when it was dropped.  Gah!  Not only are theses gears not likely to snap or break if dropped (actually you are more likely to suffer flooring damage if you drop this guy, than to have any damage done to it), they don’t slip… ever.  I don’t worry when my 6 year-old boy cranks it hard because he can’t resist watching the mechanics of it.

Gear ratio: Essentially I’m talking about how many times the flyer (the metal piece right next to the cone in the picture) goes around the cake for each turn of the crank. For each full crank turn the flyer goes around, not once, but 13 times. This is what makes it a high speed winder, it’s working faster than you are. My old winders were one crank for a couple of spins.

The large cone size: want to ply worsted yarn, wind a double ball, or  1500 m of lace weight? You can! This winder will make standard cakes and large ones too.  You can also buy a replacement cone for about 15 dollars.

A well wrapped cake: This winder makes a nice snug cake of yarn.  It cranks smoothly, and will wind nicely at a pretty fast pace. The cakes pull easily from the center and stay well formed as I work.  I love that.

No tangles: Okay. I admit the exposed gears look very intimidating.  No one wants to see a 50 dollar yarn purchase get eaten by the winder.  I have never had a tangle (knock on wood).  The long extended yarn guide holds the yarn up and back far enough that it winds perfectly.

The mount: Unlike my other winders that had precarious mounts at best. No matter how tight I tried to mount them that tiny metal lip that held under the table would often slip off, usually mid-wind.  Also my other winders could not mount to my thick wood  table because they didn’t open up enough. Talk about frustrating! This one has a sturdy mount, with non-slip foam pads, that I can clip to my the most stable surface in my home, my thick dining table.

Price: this winder is only slightly more expensive than a standard plastic winder at about 60 dollars, and you’ll probably never have to replace it.

So is there anything I don’t like about it? Well since you asked.

It’s not subtle: You can’t leave it set up on your coffee table, it’s fairly big, much bigger than the others I’ve had. Not that I was surprised when it arrived.  I knew I was getting a fair-sized piece of equipment.  It does have a nice enough finish, but it’s obvious it was designed for functionality, not winning any sleek design contests.

It’s noisy: I can’t run it and talk with my husband at the same time.  I’m sure it has everything to do with having metal gears and no casing for them.  It’s not a deal breaker for me, but it is louder than I expected.

It’s heavy: Again no surprise, it’s metal. It weighs about 3 lbs 6 oz or around 2892 g according to my kitchen scale.

Broken yarn: Okay this is a side effect of one of the reasons I love this winder.  The heavy duty gears don’t slip, so if your yarn does stop feeding smoothly for one reason or another, the gears will chug trough instead of slipping, if you are working with light yarn (ie. lace or sock weight, perhaps even sport) the yarn may just snap.

The yarn guide : This is my biggest issue with this ball winder. It is the only piece that needs assembly when it arrives, well that and putting the cone on.  They tell you to slip it under the washer and hand tighten it.  The problem I keep having is that it loosens up, often. This is a problem if it happens while winding because it changes the tension at which your yarn feeds and it can also run into the flyer.

All in all though, I don’t regret this purchase even with the few draw backs. I think it is well worth the price and it is well constrcted.

Want to see it in action? Here is a video made by the manufacturer.

So think you want one too? Here is where I know to buy one.


From the manufacturer

ebay You’ll have to take a look, prices will vary depending on if it’s new or new-to- you.

*U-Nitt did not pay, or provide products, for this review. It is expressly my opinion

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  1. Suzanne

    I never had a ball winder, but many times wished I had one. Based on your review I ordered this from Amazon. Their delivery is amazing. I had this in just 3 days. East to put it together and I proceeded to wind 10 balls of yarn. It is noisy, but having never had one I had nothing to compare that to. It is definitely fast. Thanks Erron for sharing your knowledge.

    • Erron@KnitLove

      I think some are noisier than others, I read a review that said she could easily converse while it was running. I can not. The plastic winders are much quieter, but I’ve never known them to last.

  2. paula

    My lys closed & I needed a ball winder & swift. I was on the fence between this one & the usual Royal ball winder. After reading your review, I am also buying the MH701 from Amazon ~ who now owes you some serious commission! I appreciate the great review. Also, I have added your blog to my google reader. I want to read more! Thanks again, paula

  3. Marc

    Sadly, in less than a year, we’re giving up on this ball winder in our store. We were *very* happy with this ball winder out of the box and agree with EVERYTHING you said about it in your review. Within a year however, using the winder just over once a day, the gears finally wore down enough that the unit seizes in the middle of a high-speed stroke and comes to a grinding halt (pretty exciting). This may be avoidable through proper care and maintenance. Unfortunately, the unit arrived with no care instructions for ensuring a long life. Presumably, the gears need to be greased from time to time, but we were always reluctant to get grease, oil, or even a dry lubricant anywhere near the unit for fear of contaminating the expensive yarns being around the store. IF we buy another one of these units, I’ll have to build a small box to contain the gears and the lubricant I decide to use.

  4. ArvadaLady

    You might want to try a little beeswax on the gears from time to time. It lubricates as well as protects the metal. Might even dampen the noise it makes a little. you can use old candles, as long as they are pure beeswax, or you can buy it in chunks at your local hardware store.

    After reading this review, I’m still torn as to whether or not to get the ML model instead of the MH, but am going for one or the other. I have never owned a winder myself either but I know I want to get metal. Glass and other breakable things don’t stand a chance in my house due to hard floors all over the working areas. So an accidental drop that could prove fatal to the object is something I avoid in choosing the construction material of the item. Thank you so much for an honest review about all of its pros and cons and not being overly emotional and “throwing the baby out with the bathwater” so to speak.

  5. ArvadaLady

    Forgot to mention that even bathsoap bars can be used as a temporary solution, but beeswax is best and it wont damage the fibers, soap can depending on what is in it and what fiber it is in contact with.

  6. AnnB

    Thank you for this review. I’ve been looking to make a simple one, as simple as a crank on a dowel. However, after realizing metal geared ones existed and should be able to find (after reading about a nylon geared one of similar construction dissing the metal ones) I found your review to explain this unit and realize cranking on a dowel would take forever.
    I’ve just ordered the MH701 from Amazon. I’d rather be knitting or crocheting than hand winding yarn. Although I’ll still be keeping an empty Airborne tube in my project bags, especially when I’m away from home to rewind a ripped out project, etc.

  7. AnnB

    Additionally, good sewing machine oil or gun oil should also work to reduce metal noise and protect the gears for a lifetime.

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