Sunday, May 24, 2009

A New Toy (or A New Use for an Old Toy)

You can undoubtedly guess what toy I am talking about. I had read and seen pictures to prove that you could make a yarn swift from Tinker Toy parts and was all for it from the start.

So first step is to get some Tinker Toy parts. I asked my sister to keep an eye out when she's at the second hand stores. My impression is that she is in these types of stores a lot more than I am. She thought she had a lead on a set, but when that didn't pan out, she just bought me a new set for my birthday. (And gave it to me early, thank you dear sister.)

I was trying to track down a swift because I had just bought a couple more sweaters to unravel. A nice pale yet rich blue in a silk/acrylic blend
and an all acrylic which I would normal never bother with, but couldn't help myself because of its beautiful rich colours
[This pic was the closest match I could get (reds and purples are so hard to capture!), but please trust me that they are gorge.] Btw, this sweater was a particularly fashionable crop length with overly long sleeves. Remember those?

Now, I have my niddy noddy to make beautiful skeins:
but winding balls from the skeins so I could actually work with the yarn was a problem.

Enter the Tinker Toy swift:
You build a base (the green rods) and stack up some discs on a yellow posts in the center. Then add four longer rods (I used the orange ones) to make a big X.

Rig up the parts on the end of the orange posts as shown so that the yarn can sit on the outside of the blue post without falling down.

The four orange rods were the absolute perfect size to hold my 2 meter skein, but you can imagine how you could use other lengths of rods to make the right circumference for a different length skein.

Once it's put together, you just loop the skein around the outside of the blue rods, find an end and start winding your ball. The swift will take care of unwinding your skein.

I do not yet have a ball winder that results in a center pull ball (although I have read about a motorized one made out of Lego!) but I can still wind by hand. My ball will just end up a little less symmetric and have fun rolling around as I knit with it.
I have to say the swift worked beautifully. There was absolutely no resistance while I was winding the ball and it was surprisingly stable. Now I will not only be able to wind my unravelled sweaters, I won't be required to wait at the yarn store until they can wind my ball for me. (Cause where I go, they only sell skeins; nothing is pre-wound.) Now, don't get me wrong, I like hanging out there, but it's nice to have a choice.

The blue sweater resulted in about 322 grams / 776 meters of yarn (2 sleeves: 53 g (1.9 oz) and 124 m each; back: 119 g (4.2 oz), about 278 m; front: 107 g (3.8 oz), about 250 m). I am considering a tank or other sleeveless summer top.

The yarn varies dramatically from very thin (center thread, left) to quite thick with the blue starting and ending rather randomly.

The bright acrylic is being held for the right child's item. The sweater yielded a total of 328 g (11.6 oz) / 464 meters of bulky yarn (double strand). I hope it's enough to do a bright jumper for someone, just not sure what for whom.

All for now!


  1. oh my gosh, love that swift!

    It even looks sturdier than mine. I know what I'll do when I wear mine out.

    Great post as usual.

  2. Thanks for the encouragement, Kallie!


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