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Yarn Swift


This is another quick and easy weekend project.

If you have a knitter in your life, then a project like this could earn you some nice brownie points for a fun afternoon in the shop. A Yarn Swift is a tool to hold a hank of yarn while it is being wound off into a ball. There are all kinds of ways to build one. If you look in the yarn stores, a lot of commercial ones seem to follow the umbrella style, in that they are made to collapse into a small pile. This looks nice, but I think it would be pretty challenging to make one in your typical home workshop.

I came across a few websites that featured a design like the one I built. I based my design off of a few photos I saw, and tweaked it to suit my stock on hand, as well as the hardware that I had available.

This time I think it makes sense to start with a photo of the finished project. All parts are black cherry:

This swift quite elegant in it's simplicity. There are two interlocking pieces of wood that form the base. There are another two interlocking pieces of wood that form the arms. All four of them are pinned together by a long bolt. I slipped a bit of UMHW (slippery plastic) in between to help the arms spin freely on the axis.

The bolt is just a long 5/16" diameter bolt that I found in my random-hardware-bin. I cut the threads off, so in effect it is just a smooth three-inch-long shaft. The pieces are just held together by friction and gravity.

Finally, a series of 1/4" holes were drilled in the top of the arms, each about 2" apart. Four sections of 1/4" dowel complete the swift. They can be moved around from hole to hole, which allows you to use different lengths of yarn with this swift.

Here is a shot of the two pieces separated. The arms just lift off the base.m You can just see how there is a piece of UHMW plastic where the two units meet. The later photos show this closer.

I happened to have this on hand. It is a Drawer Glide Strip from Lee Valley (00K12.50). It fit the project well, but you could just as easily use something else, or maybe just some well waxed wood.

The base pieces are approximately 16" long, by 1-3/4 to 2" tall. I intentionally made one of the pieces taller than the other, since I wanted to make sure the arms cleared the base. But that was not that important, since I also tapered the base pieces from side to side. Two notches are made in the center of each piece. Remember one notch goes on the bottom of one piece, and one on the top of the other! Make the notches so the pieces fit smoothly and snugly together. Put the two pieces together and then drill a hole down the center. By drilling with the two pieces interlocked together you are absolutely certain that the hole lines up!

I made the arms approximately 25" long, by 1" tall. (None of the sizes in this project are that crucial.) I drilled a series of four dowel holes at the end of each arm. The holes are spaced 2" apart, starting 1" from the end of the swift. I would suggest leaving maybe a bit more space at the end of the arms than I did, since the yarn rests on that piece of arm. You can see this in the photos of the swift in use.
Again, make matching notches at the center of the arms and drill a hole through the center. I found that the arms were going to rub on the screws that I used to fasten the glide on the base, so I added a small piece of 1/8" thick wood under the center of the bottom arm -- check the photo to see what I mean. If I had other screws that were more flush to the surface, that might not have been necessary.

And finally, the dowels are 7" long. Anything over about 5" would probably work for that dimension.


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