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.

New Iron!

A slight divergence for non-knitterly activities.

I received a Rowenta iron for Christmas!

I had never understood why one would pay more than $15 for an iron, but now, I completely do. This was recommended to me by fellow knitter and crafter Lisa. She sews, and therefore irons a lot. While I do not sew, I hope to learn one day. Primarily though, I asked for this for Christmas since I’ll be starting my new job soon (ish) where I have to wear ironed shirts and pants. I really hate ironing. Somehow, I always manage to mess it up. Not with this iron.

First off, it is super hot. No idea exactly how hot it is, but on my white cotton button-up shirt that has not been ironed in literally years, one glide took out all the wrinkles. Not back and forth – just once. The steam is really strong, and I can even force a burst of steam over a particular stubborn area. In fact, when I accidently ironed in a wrinkle on the sleeve, I made it burst some steam, and the wrinkle came right out. Amazing.

Secondly, it heats up super quickly. I plugged it in, and less than 30 seconds later, it was all the way up to the hottest setting. There is even an indicator light that tells you when it’s ready. Sweet.

The water tank is huge. The heat dial is easy to understand. The cord is long and tangle-free. Most models have an auto-shut off feature, but I choose one that doesn’t in case I use it to sew. It even has a vertical steam feature, although I haven’t tested that particular feature yet. I imagine it’ll come in super handy with my knitting some day.

So for those of you who sew, or just who wants a good iron. This one rocks.

January 26, 2008. Tags: , . Tools. Leave a comment.

Photo (or Yarn) Album

I had been a little frustrated recently about working gauge swatches. I don’t usually like working them to begin with, but I especially don’t like to rework them. Like when I made the baby hat. It was made of the same yarn as the baby sweater set, but I didn’t keep my swatch so I had to re-swatch it to make sure I get gauge. That was pretty irritating.

But I think I came up with a solution – a yarn album!

OK – I know a lot of people keep knitting journals and all, and keep their gauge swatches with notes on the patterns and all that, so I know this isn’t an original idea by any chance, but it was definitely a revelation for me. My mother-in-law had given me a beautiful photo album for Christmas, but I had no idea what I would do with it since I don’t really print pictures out (I probably should, and maybe she was hinting at something, but I simply don’t have the time or the desire to have it all printed out and organized). I got it out today and decided it would be perfect for me to put my old yarn swatches with notes in there (and maybe even old patterns with notes too, although I haven’t decided yet).

Check it out! I’m loving it.

I simply jot down all my notes about that particular swatch on a 3×5 note card and slip that up top, with the gauge on the bottom. Theoretically, I could just scribble the notes on the side writing area, but I always had this thing against writing in books, and that apparently carried over to photo albums.

Anyhow, I like this solution for now. The front of the album has a little frame slot – maybe I’ll make a collage of my yarn stash or something 🙂

March 23, 2007. Knitting, Tools, Yarn. Leave a comment.

Denise Needles

I got myself a set of Denise Interchangeable Needles. They’re FANTASTIC! I’m so excited to have them, since I had a list of projects that I wanted to get a start on and they all use different sized needles. Look at these beauties:

The size 8s are missing cuz I was knitting with them when I took the picture.

The reasons why I love my Denise:

  1. It gives me all the needles I need (except for the super small ones)
  2. They come in a pretty case that keeps them all organized. It helps my obsession in keeping things organized.
  3. They’re plastic, but very high quality plastic. I do like the Clover bamboo needles, but I also really like the feel of this plastic (it feels very flexible in my hands)
  4. They’re incredibly light (I heard they’re as light as the Addi turbos) so it keeps my wrists from hurting when I knit real fast.
  5. They’re circular needles, and I love circular needles.
  6. I can do Magic Lop knitting with them – no more dpns! (I hate dpns. Wish they were never invented).

I’ve also heard that people have had sets for 30 years and they still use them, so they must last a long time. There’s also a lifetime warranty even if anything ever broke – woohoo!

February 27, 2007. Knitting, Tools. 4 comments.

Ball Winder

I had a bunch of leftover yarn just sitting in my yarn tote, all unwieldy and tangled. I was realy getting fed up with it. I wanted to wind them all up into balls, but if I had done it by hand, it would have taken a century. At the same time, I didn’t really want to buy a ball winder and have to find a place to keep it. After researching online, I discovered this solution:

My drill ballwinder! Who says chicks can’t use powertools?

I put a regular pencil in where the drill bit usually goes and set the torque onto the lowest sitting. I made a slipknot on one end and wound just a little bit of yarn spiraling up the pencil. Then I just pushed the trigger and started winding. I tried to keep the slipknot out, so I can easily pull on it later to make it a center-pull ball. It works fantastically!

I’ve read in other places where people have used mixers or other things as yarn ball winders. I prefer my drill for several reasons:

1. I can easily control the speed it’s going depending on how much I’m pressing on the trigger
2. The low torque setting means that it stops winding automatically when I come to a knot.
3. I feel like a badass using a power tool 🙂

I ended up winding a bunch of balls just because I could. Now my yarn tote is clean! Woohoo!

February 25, 2007. Knitting, Tools, Yarn. 5 comments.