A ball winder from Knit Picks. ($19.99) I now unravel sweaters directly onto the ball winder. Infinitely faster.

A swift from TheKnitStore on Etsy. I got the large oak one for only $23.95. It works great. I can make hanks in six different sizes, 34 to 74 inches.

The third item that has also saved me lots of time is a Royal digital scale that I got at Wal-Mart. I think it was about $20.

In addition to using to weigh packages and save trips to the post office, it speeds up the hank process.

When I finish unraveling a sweater, I may have six, eight or more balls of yarn. I want to put them into hanks with no knots or the fewest possible knots each. So, I choose the most average size ball and wind it into a hank using the swift. I count the wraps as it spins and stop at a standard yardage amount that would make sense to knitters (100 yards, 250 yards, etc).

Then, I weigh this first hank on the postal scale. Say it is 200 yards and weighs 80 grams for example. I then weigh the other balls I've harvested from the sweater and I choose the ones that are 80 grams or perhaps select two that equal 80 grams. Then, I can wind these 80 gram balls into hanks without having to tediously count the wraps.

Another way this scale comes in handy is this: Say I've wound a sweater into five 80-gram hanks. I have one 23 gram hank left over. Hmmmm....wonder how many yards that is?

I don't have to count the wraps. I just plug some information into this handy-dandy algebra formula that my math-major husband set up for me:

base grams x = base yards * new grams

In the above scenario, this would be written as:

- 80x = 200 * 23
- Multiply 200 * 23
- 80x = 4600
- Then, divide each side by 80, and you get:
- x = 57.5

The best part is, I don't even have to do the math. I found an algebra calculator here.

I remember telling my high school algebra teacher that I was never going to use algebra. I take it back, Mr. Thomas!