PVC Swift/Skeiner tutorial

Note (Dec 2011) – I’ve been told by many that the cost to build the swift has increased since 2008.  When I built this, I lived in a part of the country with pretty low cost of living, so between that and inflation, the costs are now reportedly much higher.  I’ve heard about $20-25 is average now, depending on the tools you need or have on hand.  YMMV.

UPDATED! 7/6/2009

Many, many, wonderful knitters have told me that there’s a mistake in my tutorial for a while now, but I’ve been so busy with life that I haven’t had a chance to correct it.  It’s a minor one – the swift requires 4 2″ pieces instead of 3 as noted.  Anyway, it’s finally been corrected!

I finally did it! Remember the PVC Swift/SkeinerI talked about around a month ago?


The tutorial (pdf) is done!


  • Acts both as a yarn swift and skeiner
  • Holds up to a 2-yard skein
  • Collapsible so it can be stored flat
  • Has optional yarn guide to make winding on easier
  • Cost roughly ~$10 of supplies from a home improvement store (plus some tools)

OK, so I know that I’ve been super slow about it, but exam procrastination got me so I wrote this up (I would rather do anything but study… as you can see).

I tried to be real thorough about where all the parts go and to give detailed pictures and directions. Please let me know if you use it and find any mistakes or confusions. I would love to improve them. Send me an email at beatawih AT gmail DOT com (replace AT and DOT, obviously).

Also, if you build one of your own, let me know. I would love to see what yours look like!

OK, here comes the PDF of the tutorial. Enjoy!


April 29, 2008. Knitting, Spinning, Tools, Tutorial, Yarn. 28 comments.

Yarn Harlot

Today, I was able to take the day and travel to Atlanta to see the Yarn Harlot. I read her blog pretty regularly, but I only just read her last book, Casts Off, while I was on spring break (I borrowed Katy‘s copy). It was super funny. So I bought her latest book, Things I Learned From Knitting (Whether I Wanted To or Not) , recently, and it’s been a hilarious blast. I’m about half way done with it, and enjoying every word.

So back to the trip. Lisa and I left at 8:30 am for Atlanta, and we got there at 11:30 or so, just in time for a delicious brunch at Murphy’s. Their eggs benedict is to kill for, but I went with the version with spinach and mushrooms on a foccacia instead of the traditional one. Super delicious. Lisa got the French Toast, and while I didn’t try it, it looked to be about the most delicious French Toast ever (I was a little caught up with my eggs benedict). Then we had mimosas… delicious mimosas. Something about their mimosas make them better than other mimosas. No idea what it is. Just awesome.

Ok, enough food rambling. After brunch, we got in the GIANT line to get in to see the Yarn Harlot. There must have been 700 people there, it was incredible. As we walked along the line to find the back, people kept commenting “Oh I love your sweater” “What pattern is it?” etc. I love knitters! Mostly, this was directed to Lisa, who’s wearing the most awesome cardigan made from some super cool Cherry Tree Hill yarn. She just winged it – top down raglan style. It was incredible. I was wearing my Isabella – cool, but just not nearly as cool as Lisa’s was.

We stood in line probably for 20 minutes, but of course, no one was impatient because we all had our knitting. I had my monkey socks with me, and the pattern is pretty easy to remember, so I didn’t even need my chart all the time. People were commenting on each other’s patterns, shawls, socks, sweaters – you name it. I got some kudos for doing 2 socks at once on magic loop. I never thought it was that hard, but apparently it’s pretty impressive :). That’s kind of cool.

Oh, and we got free wool wash while standing in line – cool, eh?

Several muggles walked by and was like, WTF? What is with this giant line of people trying to get into Ben & Jerry’s. Here’s the trick, the theater where we saw the Yarn Harlot is behind Ben & Jerry’s with no visible sign (or a separate door). I bet it looked pretty funny having 600 people line up with their socks in progress trying to get into Ben & Jerry’s. hehe. Of course, they were probably equally, if not more, baffled by us knitting. I mean, who in their decent mind would be knitting at noon on Sunday in a giant queue?

Once we got in, we had about 2 hours to just knit and chat. Knitch did a pretty awesome raffle with really good prizes. If I had cash on me, I would have totally bought some tickets (they were donations to Knitters Without Borders anyway – a good cause). Seriously, someone got a $300 skein of yarn. I’m still trying to figure out what the heck that’s made of.

Then the Yarn Harlot spoke.
I’ve never laughed so hard in an hours worth of time. She is about to so accurately reflect society, but in the most humorous way possible. It’s much, much better than I could ever repeat it at, so I’m not even going to try. Her blog and her books come pretty darn close to seeing her in person, but there’s nothing quite like being in a room with 700 knitters listening to her speak about knitting, all the while knitting on my socks. I think I cried about 5 times from laughing so hard.

It was also pretty amusing to hear someone dropping a dpn every 5 minutes or so. We’re a coordinated bunch, no?

After her speech, people had a chance to ask her some questions. It was such a nice and jovial atmosphere – almost like a conversation. She’s so nice and down to earth that sometimes, I forget I’m not acutally just sitting their talking to her. It’s awesome.

So after all that, we went back to Knitch to browse. The store is absolutely amazing. Yarns in all colors from top to bottom. In all amazing fibers. There’s quite a few cashmeres that I’m surprised didn’t jump in my bag to come home with me. I did end up with this though. 2 oz of camel down. RIDICULOUSLY soft. It’ll be interesting to see how well I can spin it. Current plan is to make it into lace weight and knit Wisp – since Knitch had a really nice sample knit in 100% cashmere, and I really preferred that to the Kid Mohair that the pattern is designed for. Problem is, I don’t want to spend $50 on cashmere, and the camel was only $6 for the same amount. Let’s see what I can do! They fall into the same fiber category, so surely, it can be done. Now, my spinning skills…

So after the yummy yarn shopping, we got in line to do the book signing. The Yarn Harlot is super wonderful. She takes time to talk to everyone, and takes care to sign her entire name instead of just initials like some other celebrities would do. And she has a long name. (Refer to this blog post of hers). I even got to take a picture of her while she’s signing my book. Yay!


So after the book signing, or mission for today was basically accomplished. We had dinner at Neighbor’s (Shrimp Caesar Salad) and drove home. Here I am blogging. It was a good day.

April 7, 2008. Uncategorized. 2 comments.

Spinning Guild

On Saturday, I went to my local spinning guild for the first time. I was so pleasantly surprised at how large the guild was. There were probably about 20 people there. Wow – that many spinners live near me? One lady even told me she had the same wheel I did. Yay – someone to ask if my wheel is acting wonky. The ladies were all so nice at the guild, and super knowledgeable too. I learned so much just from sitting there and listening. It’s definitely going to be a great resource for any spinning questions.

Of course, it was super fun as well. Everyone goes around in a circle to do a show and tell. Some people have some awesome stuff spun and knitted up. One lady made this really long and amazing shawl out of linen. The drape was incredible, plus it looked great and cozy on her. Two ladies had hand dyed wool with easter egg dyes and food coloring. Such beautiful colors. Some showed their finished spinning. There was definitely some yummy stuff there.

I also found some yummy stuff to buy there. Check this out. It’s a wool silk blend (exactly percentage not sure). The blue is the wool and the silver is the silk.


There’s a really nice shimmer in person. It’s not as soft as merino (yeah, I’ve been spoiled), but it’s pretty soft. I bought 20 oz from a lady at the guild who owns her own farm and sells her fiber. I’m hoping to get enough yardage to make at least a tank top with it. Dare I say a sweater? I guess we’ll just have to see.

April 6, 2008. Spinning. 1 comment.

PVC Swift/Skeiner

So I’ve been eyeing a skeiner for a while. Babe’s sell one for $35, which isn’t bad. But I wanted it to be free standing, and I also wanted it to function as a swift too. So in comes DIY.

My hubby is a seasoned PVC builder. He grew up playing boffer and and built numerous weapons. So I asked him to help, and when I showed him what I wanted, he said, “Oh! That’s ridiculously simple.” Whee!

We spent about $10 at home depot for the materials, and an additional $8 for a PVC cutter to make it easier. I’ve used it a few times already, and I absolutely love it. Check it out

IMG_7403 IMG_7101 IMG_7102

The arms are adjustable to fit skeins up to 2 yards. It functions both as a skeiner and a swift. When I use it as a skeiner, the extra arm in the middle is the handle I use to crank it around. The cup hooks at the base helps to feed the yarn in to the skeiner – useful when I’m winding from a cone into a skein. When using it as a swift, I take the middle arm out to make it more balanced. It spins more freely that way.

I’m thinking of writing up a tutorial to build this, since it was really easy and cheap, and I think it works great. Anyone interested?

Edited to add: Tutorial now available!  Check it out here.

April 4, 2008. Uncategorized. 8 comments.