A Yarn Swift Temporarily Converted to a Skein Winder

yarn swift converted to skein winder

yarn swift converted to skein winder

Necessity is the mother of invention. That is a truism that often applies to my life and I  believe the Greek philosopher Plato gets credit for that quote.

Many years ago, I made a skein winder and somehow managed to break it a couple years ago.

Yesterday, when I was wishing I had my skein winder and happended to have my yarn swift laying about, I came up with the idea of temporarily converting it to a skein winder. Fortunately, I had my friend and fellow fiber artist visiting, so I could bounce my idea off her and get feedback.

I needed a skein winder to wind off a ball of crochet thread for hand dyeing and to measure the thread. The label on the crochet thread did not include how many yards, so I could not estimate if one ball was enough for the project  for which I was dyeing the thread.

Well, I figured that by mounting the swift  horizontally instead of vertically (like clamping to a table edge) that it could work as a skein winder. But my friend, Carol, pointed out that using the swift instead of a skein winder might make  each pass of the  yarn might be variable in length. I think she meant that the yarn would wind into the V of the wood arms, making each pass of the yarn slightly longer as it built up on top of itself, unlike being wound on straight pegs.  Even if I misunderstood her, her comment got me to thinking. Also, another concern I had was  that the top umbrella part of the swift would slide off the base if it was perfectly horizontal or the top pointing slightly downward. And finally, how was I going to easily measure the thread?  I did not pursue solving my swift to skein winder yesterday since I was busy making a temari for a friend’s son.

I came back to problem solving this morning after finishing the temari and I realized the best course was to keep it simple and use what was at hand. Otherwise, I might as well take the time and make a new skein winder or buy one.

The answers were all right there at hand this morning.

The back of a dining room chair had the perfect slight slant to clamp the swift from sliding off the base and provided a good height to work at.

Popsicle sticks (which I have a box of them since they are handy to have) could be used to bridge between the ends of the swift arms and thus provide a straight edge to wind the thread onto instead of a V. I drilled a hole in both ends of each stick. Paper clips were used to insert into the hole in one end of the stick and the bottom end (end closer to base) of an umbrella arm. So that the sticks would not make the extendable arms fixed in lengths, elastic hair bands were used to secure the top (end further from base) of the popsicle sticks to the top of each arm. The hole in the other end of the popsicle sticks was not necessary, but I had planned on using elastic thread to tie the stick to the swift arm, but I could not find it, so hair bands were used instead of the second option of rubber bands, which could not be found either.

yarn swift converted to skein winder- close up2

yarn swift converted to skein winder- close up

To make the yarn easy to measure, I open the umbrella to and secured the arms into position so that a tape measure wound around the swift measured one yard.  After the yarn was wound and tied off, I counted the threads and found that there was 103 yards. Now I know I need another ball of crochet thread before I begin dyeing.

The only problem I encountered with winding the yarn on the converted umbrella swift, was that the yarn wanted to slide off the bottom of the popsicle sticks. This was easily solved by bending the paperclip wires up so that they acted as stops.

I am pleased with the temporary solution, but I still want to make another skein winder so I do not have to keep changing the swift back and forth.


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