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How to Make a Yarn Swift out of Tinkertoys


I still remember how excited I was the first time I saw a yarn swift in action. The LYS worker spread out the skein I had just bought over a strange spinning wooden umbrella, threaded the leading edge of the yarn into a plastic yarn winder and a few short minutes later - poof! - handed me a delicious and beautiful center-pull yarn cake. I got so excited that I wished I could wind every hank in the shop.


I know a few knitters who have their own swifts at home for personal use. They're great fun, but a bit spendy as an investment unless you're winding lots and lots of yarn at home. Here's how to make one from Tinkertoys - it's sturdy enough for personal use and totally portable - I love setting it up at the coffeeshop when I lead Stitch n Bitch!  There are quite a few pictures and blog posts about this out there in blog-land, including a good step-bypstep one from Of Rats and Jen.  This is how I made mine. 


You'll need a whole bunch of Tinkertoys. I used some wooden ones I got for Christmas, but the plastic ones will work just as well.


Start by making a square at for the bottom of the base with an X in the middle, like this:


Put some short yellow pieces upright into each corner of the base:



Make a second X-ed box just like the first, and put it on top:



Now stack up a few of the open center pieces (the ones that will let a dowel spin inside them:


Put the spindle into the center of the top "X", and hold it in place with another end piece, like this:


Now assemble your arms.  Since tinkertoys can be a bit rickety, I like to use all eight available arms to hold the yarn:


Plug the arms into the holes at the top of the spindle, and you're ready to start winding!


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