My current work in progress:

Seaforth designed by Alice Starmore, knit in British Breeds 5-ply Guernsey Wool on US 3 needles.


It Was the Best of Swifts, It Was the Worst of Swifts

Does anyone else have a love-hate relationship with his/her swift?

This is my first swift:


I’ve had this swift for more years than I can remember and it has served me more or less well for all those many years. My main complaint is that yarn can get tangled in the little metal doo-hickeys on it.


And it’s sorta ugly too — blue plastic and metal. Eh.

A couple of years ago I bought this:


Much prettier, isn’t it? Too bad that it sucks at its job.

My problem with the wooden swift is that the damned thing will not turn easily. I’ve turned it for many many rotations without yarn on it in case it was a “running in” problem. I’ve waxed it. I’ve threatened it. The cursed thing just doesn’t want to turn. And the “umbrella” part of it has a tendency to collapse at inopportune moments, no matter how much I tighten the damned screw.

It’s been so useless that I went back to using the plastic/metal monstrosity. Until now.

Here’s my new swift:


This is a Beka swift, and it arrived last Friday. I purchased mine from The Woolery because I’ve always had excellent service from them. The swift is no doubt available elsewhere — just Google it!

I easily put it together in 5 minutes with no tools. The base has ball bearings in it, and it turns very smoothly. It also accommodates a large range of skein sizes. If you had a tiny skein, you could remove one of the side “poles” and slip your skein over just three of them. It sits on top of the table — no clamp needed. Here it is with a 72″ skein on it:


The only drawback I can see is that it does not collapse, so it takes up more space when you’re not using it. Still, for me the pros far outweigh the cons. Besides, when I take it off the table and put it on the floor, Lucy is intrigued. I think she thinks it is a kitty merry-go-round and is wondering when the little horses will get here so she can ride it.


Perhaps not.

Bohus Report

I started the last sleeve. Hooray!


Answers to Questions

In answer to questions from the comments:

No, no, no, and no.

What? You need more info?

No, Koko is not wearing earrings in the photo I posted yesterday. Though the photo does look as though he might be.

No, Lucy is not allowed in the stash room. She likes to chew on plastic bags and the majority of my stash is stored in plastic bags.

No, I have not joined AARP yet. They haven’t sent me the letter yet. And it’s been six days since I’ve been eligible. What’s up with that? πŸ˜‰

No, I’ve done no work on my log cabin blanket.


  1. What is it with animals and plastic bags? I thought that my dog was going after my wool, but I recently realized he’s actually after the plastic bags…strange.

  2. What? No AARP? My mom somehow was put on their rolls when she was my age (under 30 for another year…)

    I so love the Bohus. Once finances catch up, I’m going to get me a kit!

  3. Barbara McCall says:

    I have a wooden swift, like your #2. I finally had to use a binder clip to keep it from collapsing while I was using it.

  4. Damn! That’s *exactly* what I want for a swift — mine works okay, but it’s a pain in the rear end to try to get different sized skeins on it, and sometimes they’re either too small or too big to fit the swift.

    Happy belated birthday, BTW — looks like it was a good one!

  5. Now you have me worried about my swift. I have the same one you have problems with and have had very good luck with it (knock on wood). Mine is used very often not only for myself but for my customers as well. Wonder if your’s might be a lemon and if you could get an exchange. I don’t know what I’d do without mine.

  6. Wow, I’m glad it’s just not my kitties that like to chew on plastic. I’m constantly have to move bags of any kind (full or empty) out of reach. By the way, the Bohus is looking great!

  7. I just got a new tabletop swift after christmas. I used it for the second time today and it was nice! I think it’s called the Nifty Swift – and it is, as it folds up *very* nicely for storage, works with a range of skein sizes and seems to work great. I’ve been lurking for a while – thanks for letting all of us read about your craft-life!

  8. I have a wooden umbrella swift, but the “umbrella” part is upside down- so there are no weight issues. The only problem I’ve ever had with it is that occasionally the yarn end gets tangled up in the base part that spins.

    Yours looks interesting. Is it sturdy when you use it in conjunction with your electric ball winder?

    Poor Lucy! So many “toys”, so little time…

  9. No AARP yet? I have been getting AARP card related information for a couple years–and I’m 26! Crazy how that works!

    I love the Bohus! I love the swift! I love your cat!

  10. I have a plastic umbrella swift which I want to update. But I also have a skein winder for my Majacraft Little Gem which I ADORE–it’s so much easier than using a niddy noddy . . . I just have to, one of these days, give it a try as a swift, too…. In theory, it should work!

  11. Our ragdoll kitty, Barkley (who still has a crush on your Lucy) is always trying to find plastic to chew on, too. He also likes to floss with the window blind strings. It keeps me busy keeping plastic out of his reach and the blind stings up!

  12. I’ve seen two of those metal swifts in action and the broke both times. I think you must have just had a bad version of the wooden one, because that’s what I ended up getting for myself and it works fine. Squeaks a bit, but turns like a top.

  13. I have one of those blue-plastic-metal swifts that I’ve had for about a bazillion years. The aluminum is all oxidized on mine, and I have the same problem with the yarn occasionally catching on the rings. I also have a large wooden swift.

    In my mind, the thing that makes a swift work better is to mount it so it sticks out SIDEWAYS, rather than vertically pointing up like an umbrella. And my wooden swift is unfinished. I’ve worked with a swift that was mounted vertically, and had a finish on it, and it didn’t turn nearly as smoothly as my old horizontally-mounted, unfinished, dog-chewed old swift.

    Those Beka swifts used to be available years ago. I think it’s a good design (though they do take up lots of space!) and I’m glad to see that they’re available again.

  14. What’s wrong with the AARP? I think I first got a letter from them when I was in my early 20’s. I was very confused. Apparently, so were they.

    Aah, swift sagas. I’m having issues with the clamp on mine, so now need to wind the ball winder with my right hand while holding the swift up in my left hand. It’s quite the workout. I was going to try to fix the clamp, but just realized it would be easier to buy another clamp, to clamp the swift clamp to a table. And it only took me a month to figure this out. What a genius I am!

  15. You are too funny. Your timing is perfect, I really need a good laugh today. My swift and I definitely have a love/hate relationship. But I usually blame the problems on me. I have the wood swift that you have had problems. We’ve worked well a couple of times, but the majority of the time I hate it. I hate it so much so that recently I haven’t even bothered to use it … I wind by hand. I know there’s a way to use the ballwinder with out the swift, but I’ve not been able to figure that out.

    So Lucy likes plastic … one my felines does too!

    The Bohus is so beautiful it is beyond words.

  16. I have a wooden one like your umbrella one and just love it. It has a bit of a squeal once in a while, but turns like a champ. I like the looks of your new one, but not being able to fold it up and put it away would be a big drawback.

    As for AARP – they started sending me stuff before I hit 50 (last year) and it made me mad so I haven’t joined yet. I probably will, cause that 10% discount at hotels really adds up.

  17. I received a Beka swift (it’s a local company, too) last year and love it! My cats also love to sit by and watch when it’s in use.

    I got my Dad to rig up something for easy storage. He installed two sturdy planter hooks in a empty area of the ceiling so that I could hang up the swift when not using it. It works perfectly.

  18. I have the Nifty-Swift which does fold up and stand alone, however, it is not large enough to accomodate my Yarn-Pirate hanks like your Beka will.

    Have you seen the Strauch Skein/Winder swift? It is large, but it looks like it would be helpful for winding yarn off a plied bobbin from the wheel. My arm gets tired with the niddy-noddy, so I will look at them at MSWF.

  19. Neat swift! I’m hoping to save enough money not buying yarn (I’m doing Knit from Your Stash), to buy one for myself.

    I first got membership material from AARP when I was about 45. Then a few months before my 50th birthday, I got about 10 things from them. Since then, nothing. I’m wondering if they are going to send me a Happy #51 birthday card … πŸ™‚

  20. My darling Onyx is addicted plastic bags too. Unfortunately she’s also allergic to plastic, so after a binge of chewing on plastic bags she gets a big zit on her little chin.

  21. I have the same problem with my wooden swift. Its a really big pain and causes more problems than its worth most of the time. Unfortunately I do not have the space for such a cool new variety of swift (someday!)
    Anyway, something I have found to work with my swift is instead of clamping it to a table, clamp it to the side of a door. Or pull a dresser drawer out and clamp it to that and wind the yarn off vertically (the yarn would be vertical, the mast of the swift would be horizontal)
    Its as if gravity helps it along, and I have far fewer problems with it!

  22. AARP sent me a membership card for my thirty-fifth birthday. I put it up at work. (This was a while ago.)

  23. Lucy chews on plastic, too? My Jaffar does that, which drives me crazy because he chews and then throws up.

    Fortunately, Mu-Mu doesn’t seem to like plastic. However, she sits on atop the plastic box that holds the stash (it’s so small at the moment, but I’m working on that) and just stares down at the yarn. “I wants it. I wants the precious…”

  24. Oh, and I had a plastic swift like the one you pictured at one time. Ugh — I’d rather drape it around something. Your new one looks nice, though.

  25. I have the wooden umbrella swift. You are right, waxing the shaft did absolutely nothing. I’ve been thinking of a swift/skeiner similar to this one: I’ve seen several variations of this and I think I may try and build one or just buy this one. The added benefit of this is that you can use it to skein yarn from your spinning wheel as well, if your arm gets tired quickly from the niddy noddy. Or if you are trying to skein of a bobbin full of lace weight.

    As for my other friends who have reached AARP membership age, they received their invitation months before their 50th birthday. Perhaps it got round filed?

  26. I use a swift that belonged to my great, great grandmother. Very nostalgic. Just not very efficient. It generally works pretty well, but when it doesn’t it is a horror show!

  27. Thanks for sharing your experience re. swifts – very timely, I was just about to buy one. In Norway a swift is called a “hespetre”, which is also used to describe a “temperamental, grumpy, old woman” – now I understand why!

  28. Now that’s a great looking swift! Poor Lucy, chicks and horseys. She doesn’t really ask for much.

  29. Christina says:

    I love my tabletop swift! It spins freely, breaks down easily and it’s made of red heart eucalyptus so it’s beautiful as well. I found the free instructions online. Best of all, it only cost me a batch of oatmeal cookies.

  30. No AARP? They should have sent you a welcome packet BEFORE you turned…you know…before…
    Of course, I wouldn’t know YET.
    I love the folks at the Woolery. That’s where I got my Mazurka from. But I’ve never seen the Beka you have. Gotta go and look for that now.

  31. I have a wooden swift (similar if not identical to yours) and it is significantly stiffer than a metal & plastic one, but it’s not a deterrent to using it; it certainly has never collapsed on me!! (I’m feeling a little faint at the thought of it collapsing with a skein of Fiesta Gelato on it!!!)
    I do love the look of the Beka! I’ve seen that style and it whispers seductively to me. I may not be able to resist much longer – it’s too much effort.

  32. Oh, my, what frustration with swifts! We have only one piece of furniture with straight edges, for purposes of clamping ball winders and swifts. An online friend clued me in on this wonderful product, which disassembles into about the same space as a yoga bag, and which works beautifully for all sorts of skein sizes. The constuction is so simple and yet works so well. Should you ever decide you want another swift, you may want to look at these.

    Lucy seems to have quit obsessing about baby chicks, lol!

  33. My husband & I are both 52 & AARP has never contacted either one of us!! So I joined online!
    Now I’m officially over the hill!

  34. Yes, yes, and you’re right.

    Yes, the first swift was sort of ugly, yes, the second swift was much prettier, and you’re right, the newest one doesn’t collapse. It does, however, look like it will work very, very well. πŸ™‚

  35. Yes, I do indeed love/hate my swift. It’s the same as your first wooden one, and I have the same complaint. I did wax it with neutral shoe polish, which helped quite a bit. Still though, not very swift.

  36. Raye, mother of the other Capricorn Wendy, in NYC says:

    My wooden swift used to do what your did, until I saw someone mount it vertically on the side of a bookcase. I did the same and it works like a big ferris wheel instead of a carousel. It no longer collapses and it turns quite easily. Every few months I run some dressmaker’s beeswax (the kind they use for buttonhole thread) up the center shaft, and that seems to work quite nicely.
    HTH πŸ™‚
    PS AARP seems to be having problems with their clerical staff. They keep screwing up my membership and sending me renewals monthly…and I’m not due for renewal until ’08!

  37. My wooden swift is similar to your old one, but a different brand and works great — so sorry you have had problems.

    A word of caution about your new one (and it could just be me): I’ve used the same kind at my LYS and the yarn kind of creeps up and off the top as you are spinning. It was quite annoying, so I hope it was just the way I was doing it — GOOD LUCK!!

  38. Hi Wendy! I read your blog everyday! I just wanted to tell you my Hubby makes great little swifts. My SIL was given one for christmas and loves it. Just this past weekend, we took 4 to my LYS and she snagged all of them to sell there. It is a wooden tanletop swift that breaks down to nothing! I love mine! You can see it at my blog, if you are curious. Just a little FYI. Thanks- Stacey

  39. Apropos the second swift: I work at my yarn store and we have one of those swifts (plus a winder) for customers to ball yarn. I’ve wound hundreds of hanks at this point, and I think the reason people claim that it’s hard to turn them is that they tighten them too much. If you loosen it enough so that your yarn hangs on the bottom (it won’t fall off! Really!), it turns quite easily and without much effort.

  40. As a complete aside, my grandmother also had a stash that required a room (mine only requires half of one…so far)but her stash room was rather grandly named “The Ballroom”, which brings a whole new level of elegance to the whole “mountains of yarn wherever you look” thing.

  41. I mostly love my swift. Sometimes it’s hard to raise, but it beats the heck out of my former method, which involved a wooden coatrack…nah, it’s too hard to explain.

  42. Thanks for the tips on swifts. I’ve been wanting one for a while, but can’t seem to bring myself to spend fifty or sixty dollars for one. In the meantime, I’ve been using the LAMP at my desk as a swift, loosening the bolt at the top and draping the yarn on the shade. It spins perfectly, and so far, I’ve only run into one or two skeins of yarn that were too big.

  43. Thanks for the tips on swifts. I’ve been wanting one for a while, but can’t seem to bring myself to spend fifty or sixty dollars for one. In the meantime, I’ve been using the LAMP at my desk as a swift, loosening the bolt at the top and draping the yarn on the shade. It spins perfectly, and so far, I’ve only run into one or two skeins of yarn that were too big.

  44. LOL – I can’t believe you let a newspaper photographer into your stash room. Think of the danger if those photos get out! You’ll never feel safe among knitters again…

  45. Plastic? My cats both have weird habits, but neither chews on plastic!

    And as for AARP — they first contacted me on my 30th birthday. Then last year, about 6 months before I actually turned 50, they started inundating me with mail, which completely stopped the week after my birthday! I keep meaning to join, but haven’t yet…..

  46. Hi Wendy!

    I have a fabulous swift from Dragonfly Turnings and I love it. Very simple to put togther and no fiddly parts. The only thing I’ve found so far is that I have to wind slowly and evenly because the yarn has a tendency to “ride up” on the pegs and pop off… but the artisan has changed the design of the pegs since I bought mine and that has improved now.

    I love Lucy’s necklace! My Zoe is jealous indeed. Tegan, my other kitty, is too busy licking the plastic bag newspaper wrapper to be jealous! I thought I was the only one who had a cat inclined to lick and chew plastic but my vet once told me they like the smooth texture against their rough tongues. Makes sense, I guess. I think it’s weird.

    Happy winding!


  47. I love my cheap plastic swift. It’s lasted years, doesn’t have that annoying squeak wood ones get, clamps vertically and horizontally. It folds and fits in my desk drawer. Oh, and it was $12.

  48. I have a Beka too…my parents got it for me for Christmas along with a ball winder. I’ve used it twice and I just love it especially the little noise it makes with the ball bearings. I had a couple of questions for you about socks…since you have made and worn so many. Do you notice a lot of pilling or almost felting at the heel? I wore a pair for the first time the other day and now the heel looks all wispy and I’m not sure if it’s technique or what. There’s pictures on my blog (the Jan. 7 entry). Also, how do you care for your socks? Thanks!

  49. You mean I’m not the only one with a cat who chews on plastic bags??

  50. Having a swift would make things a lot easier around here. One of these days, I really do need to invest in one, even if just a cheap one.

    While my cats don’t like to chew on plastic bags, one of them enjoys licking plastic bags very much. Of course, this cat also likes hummus, is very twitchy, and has been known to attempt to jump into the TV, so I don’t exactly consider him the brightest bulb. Cute as a button, though, and that’s what really matters. :3

  51. FWIW, I have a “Nifty Swift”, and it is WONDERFUL. Put the top on the bottom and it’s ready to go. Adjusts to fit all size skeins; turns effortlessly and doesn’t tangle yarn. Sturdy– does not collapse or come apart. Hardwood, so aesthetically pleasing. Sits on table, so does not need clamping. (Also sits on unstable surface like sofa in a pinch.) And the umbrella collapses and it’s fairly small, so relatively portable. One of the best tools I ever bought. Only drawback– a little pricey, but so well worth it. I got mine from a LYS, but when I Googled, here’s one of the first links pulled up (so you can see what it looks like):

  52. Should you ever feel the urge to try your other wooden swift again, I used graphite to lubricate mine. I only applied it once, three or four years ago, and it is still working very well. πŸ™‚

  53. It’s funny that one has to choose between convenience of storage vs usage, surely an engineer can fix that.

    poor Lucy, doesn’t forbiding her from the stashroom make it all the more tempting?

  54. I’m in with the Nifty Swift crowd…I love mine. In fact I just wound a pound of laceweight yarn that I wasn’t sure the Nifty could accomodate but it came thru with flying colors! Pumpkin loves to lay under it as it spins watching it like a merry go round as it barely clears his head. Silly cats and their odd habits! Oh he’s a plastic chewer too!

    Your Bohus sweater is just beautiful!

  55. I scored a major buy on Ebay years ago with one of the older wooden swifts that have the crooked arms and the little pieces of wood that fold up to hold the yarn at the end of the arms. It stands alone on its one base and the arms fold in when not in use so it folds up to 1/8 of its width. Then last year I found another one and snatched it up.

    I feel about them the way you do about your new one! And wouldnt part with them for too much yarn – well, a whole lot of cashmere MAYBE!

  56. I was once told the plastic bags are made/lubricated with oil that animals find attractive.
    Dyson loves to lick plastic bags, which is annoying. Sana chewed plastic bags, which was more annoying. Our Siamese cats ate plastic bands (which wasn’t annoying in itself, but had annoying effects at the other end). They also chewed/ate knitted items — I lack words to describe how far beyond ‘annoying’ that could be.

  57. I have an wooden umbrella swift that at least looks like yours. Mine works just fine, though, and I’ve never had to wax it. DH bought it for me a few years back, and it hasn’t failed me yet.

    P.S. Your Bohus is looking fabulous.

  58. What an interesting array of swifts. I have yet a different type – I’m told it is italian style. It comes in two parts, a wooden clamp that has a metal rod in the top and then the swift bit its self that has four concertina wooden arms that can be fixed to a certain length by a big wooden screw in the middle of it. When you are not using it the whole thing packs down to next to nothing. There is a picture somewhere on my blog πŸ™‚

  59. My two sons each gave me a swift for Christmas, one like your umbrella swift and the other a Beka swift. The Beka swift has dowels which can be easily removed for storage but I plan to leave mine assembled.

  60. I must say I am very grateful for the handmade swift I received as a Christmas present from my father-in-law (pics on blog). Those umbrella things are scary looking, and I always wondered about them collapsing. Congrats on the new one, I really like the design!!

  61. Re: the “Triple Threat Bohuses” — sounds fab, but don’t expect us to be ready until ’08!!! I do visit often so maybe we can do lunch at the Bohus Cafe!

  62. Wow, what a gorgeous swift. I like that not every knitting/spinning thing has to look like it came from a castle or the Revolutionary War. And the price looks great too!

  63. My cat loved plastic bags, the plastic on electrical wires, and olives. I couldn’t put a salad on the table without her trying to nose around in it.

    Thanks for the info on the swift. I always thought I was doing something wrong when it didn’t turn smoothly.

    And congratulations on being 50–just think of 50 as the “new 30”. I’m headed toward the big “60” (the “new 40”?), and I was going to ask for a wool winder. Do you have any preferences about them? I noticed some wooden ones available, in addition to the plastic. Perhaps now I’ll ask for a new swift and a wool winder!

  64. I also hate the blue plastic swift – it will, without warning, fly off the table I attach it to while I’m trying to wind a ball. And, if I try and stop it (you know, cause the ball has gotten too big on the winder), it freaks out. But, on the bright side, it does collapse – i live in a shoebox! πŸ™‚

  65. I have the wooden swift too. My biggest complaint about it is that it is a little heavy and thus the yarn gets balled too tightly. If I am metering my yarn I use the old metal and plastic one.

    I have had luck with silicone spray to get the wooden one to turn more easily. You can get it in the lubricants area of Home Depot.

  66. Sorry to comment twice in one day but you need to see this:

  67. I have an ugly blue plastic swift which looks very similar to yours. Moreover, mine has such a small and unstable supporting base that it does not stand long enough. I laughed for 3 minutes, reading your speculation on Lucy’s secret dream with your new swift.

  68. #2 must of been a lemon, ‘coz I don’t have a problem with mine. But I probably don’t use it as often as you do so your problems may be mine next.

  69. AARP hasn’t pestered you to join yet? I’m only 37 and they’ve been trying to get me to join for 2 years, now!

    On swifts–I like mine, too. Mine is also a tabletop model (no clamping) but it’s expandable and foldable for storage. The arms look like that wooden lattice you find in kitchens for coffe cup hangers (epandable diamond stuff–I hope you can visualize, beccause I’m having trouble explaining). It’s a wonderful swift!

  70. I had wondered about swifts but for now will continue to wind by hand.
    And about AARP … yesterday I got 2 ( yes, 2 ) envelopes from them. One was for membership ( I did that when I first turned 50 and somehow, with everything else that was going on around here at the time,I forgot to renew ) and the second was for life insurance. Makes you wonder what’s up with them.
    Chloe, the Girl Pup, likes Lucy. Chloe will sit beside me as I read my daily blogs but when she sees yours and a picture of Lucy pops up, Chloe has her face in front of the computer screen looking at Lucy ( makes it kinda hard to read anything that way ). Oh, but what we put up with from our furry kids.

  71. I have the blue plastic one and I love it. It can be annoying when it catches but it doesn’t happen to terribly often for me, and it would happen less if I had it on an actual table, instead of on my telvision cabinet hah!

  72. Beth P. in Maryland says:

    Well, this is fascinating. I have lived with MANY cats over the years and had never had one with this plastic bag fetish. Until recently. One of my current “cat family” has it. He is about 4 years old and is a bag licker, drives me absolutly nuts! But at least now I know that he isn’t the only one!

    As for swifts. I have had the wooden umbrella swift for almost 20 years. I don’t have too much trouble with it. I use white lithium grease (buy it at an auto parts store) to lubricate it. It turns pretty easily and it has never collapsed while in use. I have heard that they work better clamped to a vertical item, but I have not tried it.


  73. Seems that you are avoiding answering the “did Lucy get her baby chicks for Christmas” question!!! Did Santa disappoint?

  74. I love my swift, which is similar to the one from Dragonfly Turnings. I found it on eBay ( It’s easy to store, sets up fast, and doesn’t skittle across my glass tabletop.

    Mack loves plastic bags but he really flips over bubble wrap. Once he came upstairs holding a big piece in his mouth; it was dragging on the floor and when he stepped on it, he couldn’t move. It took him forever to figure out why.

  75. I got my offer to join AARP shortly before my 35 birthday. While I have no problem with growing old that was a little early for me as I am not one to plan ahead. I hope you have a fantastic birthmonth (I thought of you on the 2nd but have been computer hopping since my laptop is in the shop and am behind on that kind of thing. I also send all my cards late — what were they thinking.

  76. No AARP? I received my invitation at the spry age of 25!

    Congratulations on finding the right swift with which to share your life and yarn!

  77. Katherine says:

    I’ve had a wooden Glimakra swift for about 25 years. It does help not to have it very tight on the skein. I lubricate mine periodically with spinning wheel oil. The metal swift is fine, but it doesn’t expand large enough for many skeins.

    Maybe I’m not fazed by any idiosyncracies of my swifts because I am too focused on my love/hate relationship with my ball winder. I had a lovely little plastic ball winder that I used for years and years, but I wanted Bigger Balls. I went and bought THIS monstrosity: It’s made by Strauch (but I think it was originally designed by Fricke), and it does in fact wind big balls, but not without headache. The red clamp isn’t long enough to hold the winder without rocking on its little plastic feet. I hold the base with one hand and wind with the other. It rocks like crazy, and since I have it clamped to a bookcase, sometimes the books fall off. But I’m stubborn and I spent what is for me a lot of money on it, so I keep using it.

    Fricke makes an interesting squirrel cage swift, which I’d like to try: Doesn’t look like it would wind skeins, though, just unwind them. How is your Beka at winding skeins?

  78. Recently I bought an antique retractable swift in medium dark wood from the region of Martigny in Switzerland, with one drawback: the base was missing. I got the idea to put it on the pedestal of a standing lamp. Now I can use my swift wherever I want to, I don’t need a table anymore…

  79. You are too funny. I have a wooden swift and I guess I got lucky because it works like a charm! It is probably too late now but you should return your wooden swift – – sounds like you got a stinker.

    I don’t have too much problems with my cats and yarn (however, one of my cats chewed up one of my beloved circulars) but my dog chews the labels off of my yarn. I’ve been lucky so far that he hasn’t destroyed the yarn. I’ll come home to a wet wad of paper in the middle of the floor with a sad mop of yarn off to the side. He must give it a good shake to get the label off but then he ignores the yarn – – THANK GOODNESS!

    BTW, your new swift looks very cool. I like that you don’t have to clamp it to anything.


  80. My wooden swift, similar to no 2, just fell down and dropped laceweight everywhere today. I was not happy, as it was for a yarn swop. I have given up and ordered a skein winder that fits on my spinning wheel, it’s adjustable so should act as a good swift too.
    Just started knitting from the stash, and put up your button. Fantastic idea!

  81. My dog just likes the smell of alpaca! She keeps thinking that my balls of yarn are really fun toys. There has only been one major mishap. I fear if I didn’t kennel her when I am away from home, I would cry a lot more.

    That swift is awesome! So it doesn’t tip over when you really get into the ball-winding grove? I have always brought my skeins to may LYS; they are always very nice and willing to wind my yarn for me.

    Strange that you have not heard from AARP yet. I have received three or four letters from them in the past year, and I’m only 27!

  82. Oh Pooh! I just got a swift for Christmas and it’s the wooden umbrella one. Wish I had thought to look for reviews before I asked. I’ve used mine once and so far no problems, but have no expierence to back it up. Hmmmm. I’ll have to keep an eye out.

    BTW – hubby through out his papers from AARP. Come to think of it so did my parents and they are in their mid – 70’s. They don’t have much use for the organization. But – to each his own.

    Your Bohus is utterly devastating. (I mean that in a good way LOL)

  83. I like the new swift. Very handy. I often find that the simpler the design, the more useful it is.

    Bohus is looking good.

  84. I received a wooden umbrella swift for Christmas – hand made by my father-in-law. It’s unfinished and the friction bits have been waxed so it turns quite smoothly. You may need to sand off the finish on your swift and re-wax.

    My father-in-law couldn’t make the screw part that keeps the swift open so I bought a quick clamp (,43838) to clamp to the pole just below the round nut. It works fine.

  85. Besides giving me a laugh, your post was very helpful re swifts. I don’t own one yet but it’s on my list of must-haves, so this was good information to know. Thank you.

    ps: Bohus is looking awesome.

  86. I have a wooden umbrella swift. It was one of my great-grandmother’s wedding presents in 1879 – I shudder to think of the tons of yarn it has carried over the years.
    Before my mother passed it on to me (when she gave up knitting) I had one of the metal-and-plastic ones. It got thrown in the trash after the first time I used the wooden one, and I have never looked back since.

    To sum up: Swifts are, like so many other things, a case of “one woman’s meat is another’s poison”. What I adore might be an excrescence to someone else, and vice versa. Plus, there’s a LOT in craftmanship. Don’t buy a cheap wooden swift just because it’s cheap. Get the best you can afford, and in 130 years someone else will write about your swift the way I do about great-gran’s today.

  87. I was swiftless up until christmas. I have the umbrella one which so far works fine, and I don’t have to ambush a family member to hold yarn for me any longer. A definate improvement in my knitting life! Your new one is lovely though, if mine falls apart or othewise annoys me, I’ll show hubby and maybe he can build one for me.

  88. Delurking to say that I’ve had your 2nd swift for years now and I absolutely loathe it. While it is pretty it is also so slow and “tight” that I end up winding balls twice to make sure that the wool is not stretched. I’ve had wool break on that thing while trying to wind it. I’m definitely going to look into your new one.

  89. Hi, Wendy:

    I love my swift from
    It folds easily and turns smoothly.

    My friend tossed her plastic swift when she got a wooden one, and later bought a used plastic swift at an auction because she found she prefered it after all!

    I look forward to another year of your adventures in knitting.


  90. To answer Katherine’s question, the LYS I work for just got the Squirrel Cage swift and I re-skeined a hank of yarn on it, basically going over and under. It worked but there are better skein winders out there. We got ours from Carolina Homespun.

    We find that it works well as a swift but find that it winds tight ball on the Royal(regular) ball winder. As knitters, we know this is a less than grand situation. I’m looking into how to fine tune this.

    It is very heavy duty and has two little cages which move (akin to hampster wheels) instead of an umbrella which customers get caught on. It also winds the largest skeins imaginable which was a big feature. It scoffs at 72″ skeins. Scoffs.

    We went through three similar wooden umbrella swifts in about a year… They all broke in one way or another. On some days we wind over 20 skeins, just to give you an idea of how in-store use differs from home use. At home, I mount my metal swift sideways or upright. I wind my heavy and extra large skeins at the store.

  91. I also have the swift no. 2. This being my first, and only, I love it. So far, no turning problems. I always set it tightly, then back down an eighth of an inch or so to give it spinning room. So far, so good.
    And I thought I’d share… my Maine Coon, Deisel, (all jet black) loves to bite cardboard. Not chew, just bite, all over. Weird.

  92. Love the swift. It looks so cool!!