Sunday, February 26, 2017

Adventures in Building a DYI Skeinwinder and Swift

I was getting ready to make one of these DIY Swifta out of a lazy Susan and an expandable mug rack.

The problem : I was given several bags of wonderfully soft alpaca yarn on skeins.  At present, I am weaving it on the floor loom, but to get it ready, I have to wind it into balls/cakes before I can wind it onto the shuttle for weaving.  Maybe with this tool, I'll be able to go directly from the skeinwinder to the weaving shuttle?


Option A : At first, I thought I could use the swift I purchased for my spinning wheel, but 1) it's not expandable -- which is fine if I'm winding yarn I spun myself, not so good if the purchased skein is larger or smaller than this particular swift.  2) The second problem with it is : every time, I've tried to use it, the damn thing pops apart.  Really bad design if it can't handle the tensions of what it was meant to do.  After loosing the nuts and parts several times because they went flying off, and finding them again, I've disassembled it all and put it away with a big note on it not to bother using it again without some kind of engineering re-work.  Disappointing, since it cost me a pretty penny back in the day.

Option B : Then I started putting putting the skeins on my warping board, winding them to a bobbin on my spinning wheel, and then using the ballwinder to make a cake.  That works --it's a little awkward as the yarn moves around the pegs of the stationary warping board.  Not ideal.  An actual purchased Umbrella Swift / Skeinwinder can cost $89--I'd rather spend my money on yarn!

Too cheap to purchase one of these, but I'm not thrilled about the time and effort wasted doing the job as I am currently, and too cheap to buy a real umbrella swift (although, I do know that buying good equipment can make a tremendous difference in many ways!  It can also be a colossal waste of money if you get something poorly designed, or a gimmick. Been there, done that!) 

Option C : So I finally decided I needed another solution, and started combing through Pinterest for an inexpensive DIY Solution ...  I came across this ingenious idea from Measured and Slow :

There's a similar one explained in this video by Charan Sakar.  Necessity is the mother of Invention!

I already had the lazy Susan from some other long dead art project.  And I found the expandable coat rack at my local hardware store (though they called it a mug rack) for only $10.  They also had the longer wooden pegs 4 for $5.  The mug rack expands to fit whatever size skin of yarn I might have.  That's what I needed!   So for about $15, I had the parts to make my own ...

So I laid it out on the table to show Hubby what I needed him to assemble to make it work for my purposes ...  [See photo at top of post ...]

Option D) By the end of the day, my weaving and fiber art friend Lynda brought me one of these :

A Leclerc Skeinwinder, available here at The Woolery for $$$.  She said someone in the local weaving guild gave it to her, for free and she was passing it on to me, since I needed one.  Wow!  The universe provides, if you just give it time to manifest ...

We'll see how it works ...  Perhaps there's a good reason why the weaver gave it up?  It is adjustable, and once we got the parts lined up properly, it looks like it will work ok.

Now I have 2 skeinwnders / yarn swifts!

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