Recently I walked into my LYS; I had two skeins of yarn that I’d been given I was wanting to work with and thought maybe they wouldn’t mind winding them up for me. Naturally, I assumed there would be payment involved. I figured I’d get charged $1 or $2 bucks each to have them wound. However, when the LYS owner said $5 a skein I think my jaw may have dropped. Matter of fact I’m almost sure that I stared for awhile like a blundering idiot thinking that this was a joke. Perhaps they thought I was lying and that I’d bought the yarn elsewhere. I wasn’t, I was given this yarn as part of a swap – Forum Post. Who knows what they thought? But the thought of $5 a skein struck me as ludicrous. So I did what any other cheapskate like myself would do. I politely said, “No, thank you I’ll just buy my own.”
Now perhaps at this moment savy LYS owner smirked knowing what the price of a swift and ball winder was and thought that I’d be back with my proverbial tail between my legs to pay for my skeins to be wound. Sadly though I did at that time know exactly what a swift and ball winder cost and I was determined that I would do this for $50. Why $50? Ten just happens to be the number of skeins in my stash that needed to be wound and therefore the break even dollar amount. If I could do this for $50 it would be the same amount as if I’d paid to have it done but I’d never have to worry about it again. Now some of you are probably thinking, “oh wind the damn skeins yourself and quit your bitching”. For most folks I’d agree with you but I ride a train to and from work everyday and this is where I do a ton of my knitting. Anyone who has ever dropped a ball of yarn knows those bad boys have the incredible tendency of going further and around more things than you would have thought possible. On a train however it is positively spectacular; trust me I know. So center pull balls are a MUST!
Now how could I do this on the cheap for $50??? Working the online mojo I found the cheapest but well rated ball winder that I could. There were no acceptable shortcuts that I could find for a ball winder. All in all it’s just worth it to buy that bad boy and be done with it. The ball winder just happened to come from Amazon the cheapest, no tax and free shipping scored the ball winder for $28.99. Step 1 done and over half of the budget gone. As anyone who’s looked into a ball winder and swift knows, the ball winder is the easy part; your average swift will run you anywhere from $55 for a cheapy on up. I started to look at all kinds of swifts; Lacis Umbrella Swift, Table Top Yarn Swift, and even a Goko Yarn Swift. None of these were going to make the budget so I started looking into DIY swifts. I have to admit I found many more ideas out there than I thought that I would:
- Table top yarn swift
- The coat hanger swift
- A more sophisticated coat hanger swift
- Tinkertoy swift
- Lego swift
I’ll be damned if there aren’t some very creative folks out there who are absolutely brilliant in using things they have on hand. After seeing all of the spectacular ideas I still hadn’t hit on the one that worked for me. Either they required things I didn’t have; be they skills, tools, or toys or they weren’t quite as permanent as I wanted to make mine. AND then after a few hours of hunting I found IT! The Beka Yarn Swift (see it in action). Now this I thought to myself I could do. Even better I knew just how I could do it. I was also, pretty positive I could do it on budget. One trip to the local Home Depot confirmed all of my suspicions. If you own a drill, 1/4 inch drill bit, and a saw you too can make your own swift for about $18.00.
So here you have it directions for an $18.00 homemade swift that works dang nicely if I do say so myself!
- 8 – 3/4 inch PVC 45 degree slip elbows: .64 x 8 = 5.12
- 4 – 3/4 inch PVC 90 degree slip elbows: .67 x 4 = 2.68
- 2 – 3/4 inch PVC cross all slip: 2.05 x 5 = 4.10
- 2 – 3/4 inch PVC pipes: 1.27 x 2 = 2.54
- 1 – 1/4 inch wooden dowel: .65 x 1 = .65
- 1 – Wooden Base: 2.09 x 1 = 2.09
- 1 – Old CD
- 1 – Drill
- 1 – 1/4 inch drill bit
- 1 – Saw
**IMPORTANT NOTE – Make sure that you get PVC that is not threaded it should be a slip end for all pieces (in other words the pieces connect by just slipping in, no screwing) (wow all the double entendres in that sentence alone are staggering). If you’re not sure ask a sales person they’ll be able to help!
- Take your handy dandy drill with that 1/4 inch drill bit and grab the two PVC cross slip pieces (Item 4 in the Supplies list) in the very center drill straight through the middle of the cross sections do this to both of the cross sections on the top and bottom (picture below)
- Take your wooden base (Item 6 in the Supplies list) and drill in the center approximately 1/2 way through the center of the board (picture below)
- Saw 4 lengths of PVC pipe (Item 4 in the Supplies list) to 5.5 inches long
- Saw 4 lengths of PVC pipe (Item 4 in the Supplies list) to 15 inches long
- Saw 4 lengths of PVC pipe (Item 4 in the Supplies list) to 1.25 inches long
- Saw 4 lengths of PVC pipe (Item 4 in the Supplies list) to 17 inches long
- Attach pieces from step 3 (5.5 inch lengths of cut PVC pipe) to the PVC cross that you drill through in step 1 (Item 4 in the supplies list)
- Attach the 45 degree slip elbows (Item 1 in the supplies list)
- Attach pieces from step 4 (15 inch lengths of cut PVC pipe) to the other side of the 45 degree slip elbows
- Attach the next 4 45 degree slip elbows to the ends of the PVC cut in step 4
- Attach the small pieces of PVC cut in step 5 above (1.25 inch lengths of cut PVC pipe)
- Attach the 90 degree PVC (Item 2 in the Supplies list) elbows to the other side of the PVC from the step above
- Attach the 4 remaining pieces of PVC (17 inch lengths of cut PVC pipe) to the PVC cross (Item 3 in the supplies list)
- Then attach to the ends of 90 degree elbows
- Cut the wooden dowel (Item 5 in the supplies list) into a 17 inch length
- Cut the remaining wooden dowel into 4 small 2 inch pieces
- Insert the 17 inch wooden dowel (step 15) through the top of the PVC cross then through the bottom cross
- Line up the CDs inner open circle with the bottom of the wooden base that you drilled the whole through in step 1 (picture below)
- Insert the bottom of the wooden dowel into the wooden base
- Drill small holes in the upper 4 sections of the PVC
- Insert the small lengths of dowel cut in step 16 into the small drill holes made in step 20
- Last but not least the PVC on the edges where the yarn rests is slick to give it some surface tension use the sand paper and rough up the arms a bit with a good sanding. This will help to hold the yarn in place
- DONE! Start winding!
Now, I’m sure despite my best effort that my directions suck so hopefully the following pictures will help to better demonstrate what I have tried to describe. If not please feel free to post your questions and I’ll try to get back to you as quickly as I can.
Here is the final result with a skein on in full spin!