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 Dyeing

A small bit of yarn dyeing activity.  After & before pics:

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I did this Sunday in my crock pot using food coloring.  The base yarn is Knit Picks Essential bare, 100g of sock yarn.  I used 16 drops of blue to 7 drops of green (although using much more dye than that – my blue bottle is almost gone!).  I used knitty’s dip-dye method.  It was so easy to do!  I just put the yarn in the crock pot and would occasionally come to pull some out.  No exactly science or anything. 

When it was done, I washed it and it bled a little bit.  It kept bleeding even after 4 washes, so I decided to put it all back in the crockpot with clear water and vinegar and left it overnight to set the color.  It did set the color a bit more, but still not completely.  I’ll just try to remember to wash the socks separately until it stops bleeding.  The bad thing about leaving it overnight was that it starting boiling.  No biggie since the yarn is superwash, but I used maroon yarn to tie the skein, and the maroon bled a little onto the yarn.  Whoops.

I enjoy doing food coloring dyeing a lot more than kool-aid.  The color is more predictable and controllable, and I’m just not a fan of the kool-aid surprise.  It’s almost much less neon colored.  I also really enjoyed reskeining the yarn after dyeing.  I think it looks much better mixed in like that.  I’m quite in love with this dye job.  Who needs $20 hand-dyed sock  yarn when I can dye my own?

March 28, 2008. Yarn. Leave a comment.

More Yarn Love

More yarn love:

I bought 2 pounds of the Highland Tweeds yarn from WEBS when it was on closeout for like $12 a pound. It comes in cones in spinning oil, so I’ve been skeining and washing it. It’s been through the wash 10 times, but the water is still coming out like this:

I’m going to wash it next with some vinegar. Hopefully, this will set the color and soften the yarn a bit (I heard that vinegar smooths the scales in the wool.. hmm…).

Even though it’s not completely finished being washed, look at the difference in the before and after washing picture! (Before = right, After = left)

I love how it bloomed and takes on a softer texture. I’ll have to swatch it and see how it behaves.

Next goal after washing it all? Dyeing it. I’m not sure I’m a big fan of this yellow color. Maybe I’ll dye it with blue to make a green. Or a purple to make a brownish color.

February 17, 2008. Tags: , , , , . Yarn. 2 comments.

More Spinning

I finished spinning my orange alpaca a couple of weeks ago. I don’t know how I forgot to blog about it!

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It’s 8 oz, 250 yds of super soft 100% baby alpaca. It’s 3-ply and approximately DK to worsted weight (varies by section). There are some bulky spots too, and spots where the plying because a little boucle-ish. For my first yarn, it turned out pretty even.

This is what I’m spinning right now:

4 oz of “Cinnabar” Merino. It’s going to be a 3-ply DK as well (the orange alpaca was actually practice for this). I have another 4 oz of this in the color “Patina” – a beige-ish color. Combined, I’m hoping to make the stag bag in Harry Potter-ish colors (warning: pdf link).

February 17, 2008. Tags: , , , . Spinning, Yarn. 1 comment.

Yarn Dyeing

After reading that Kool-Aid will dye yarn, I’ve been wanting to try it out ever since.  It seems harmless enough – I do drink that stuff afterall.  I had a ball of Patons Classic Merino Wool in Aran in my stash, so I went to the grocery store and got some supplies.

Here’s what came out of the microwave:

I actually used Disney Cool Splashers instead of Kool-Aid because it was on sale.  I used one packet of Strawberry, one packet of grape, and two packets of Black Cherry.  The black cherry is kind of hidden behind the grape in the picture, so you can’t see it very well.

The dyeing went really easily.  I unwound the yarn into a hank and tied it to keep it from getting tangled.  I mixed the kool-aid in 3 cups, dunked the yarn into it, and stuck it into the microwave.  After about 10 minutes of microwave time (at 2 minutes on, 2 minutes off), it came out just like that.

I was really afraid of the wool felting in the process, since it wasn’t superwash.  It didn’t while it was dyeing.  Unfortunately, when I rinsed it out, apparently I had agitated it too much so it started felting a little bit.  Once I noticed though, I stopped and was able to rescue it as I wound it into a ball.  Here’s my finished product:

I’m calling the color Sari, because that’s what it reminds me of.  Eventually I’ll make some socks from it, but for now, it’s sitting prettily in my stash.

April 15, 2007. Yarn. 1 comment.

My First Real Stash

This box came in the mail a few days ago:

Amazon apparently had some sort of glitch/typo so that their Sugar ‘n’ Cream yarn was on sale for $0.40 a ball. Sure, Sugar ‘n’ Cream isn’t expensive to begin with, but $0.40 is definitely a killer! The “sale” only lasted about 15 minutes, but in that short time, I was able to order myself 57 balls!

Here’s my stash of Sugar ‘n’ Cream:

I swore to myself that I’d never have a big stash, because I’m usually a buy-as-you-go kind of person. I like to have a project assigned to every ball of yarn I have, unless it’s a left-over ball (I’ll even return the full balls). So having this much around just because is … well … kind of weird.

I have ideas for them all (see Projects to Start page). This is going to last me years!

Yay for sales!!!

April 10, 2007. Knitting, Yarn. 6 comments.

New Yarn for Isabella

I had bought a bunch of Bernat baby yarn for Isabella, then I decided that I really hated the color and took it all back. I still really wanted to knit it, but fingering weight yarn is near impossible to find locally. I’ve been wanting to try out Knit Picks too, so I went for it.

My bag came in the mail a couple of days ago. I got some Crayon in Brick and Palette in Apricot. The colors are definitely a little off from the website, but I actually like the real colors even better than the colors on the web, so it worked out for me.

The Palette is for Isabella and the Crayon is for these shorts that I plan on modifying to be ballet shorts (the waist will just be shorter).

I was so excited to get the bag that I couldn’t wait to get started. I started gauging the Palette for Isabella. I used my size 5 Denise, even though that’s way bigger than what the pattern called for, I usually knit so tight that I have to go up 2-3 sizes anyway so I figured it might work. The gauge wasn’t even close! I was going to just go with it anyway and knit a size down (so it’d be the right size) but then the fabric would be too thin and you’d be able to see through it. I gave up and finally went to the store and got some size 3 & 4 circulars. The only ones they had were metal Susan Bates, so I went for them even though I usually prefer bamboo. I ended up really liking them, but they’re so slick that my gauge got loose, so the size 3s are still a little too big. It got close enough though (only 1/2 stitch too big) so I think I’ll go with it.

So today is my first day of starting Isabella. Let’s see how long it’ll take me to knit up a whole sweater using fingering weight yarn!

March 30, 2007. Knitting, Yarn. 2 comments.

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.


In a whirlwind knit, I finished this in 3 days!

It’s Vestee from the Spring 2007 Knitty. I saw it and immediately thought it was perfect for my lil’ nephew, so I decided to knit it for his birthday. There wasn’t much time, but the pattern was clear and so much fun to knit that I got through it in 3 days.

I used Lion Brand Wool-Ease in blue heather. I couldn’t imagine hand-washing a toddler’s clothes, so I picked this yarn because it’s machine washable and dryable.

I really liked the garter rib that the sweater was knitted in. It provides really good stretch – even better than a regular rib pattern. There wasn’t much seaming either because the top half is mostly knitted in the round. Plus it’s just a toddler sweater, so it isn’t big to begin with.

I am going to have to take a few days break from knitting though. Making this in 3 days definitely wore me out a little. After I finish up the Shrug that I’ve been working on, I’ll probably start up Isabella. I bought a bunch of Bernat Baby yarn in baby green for it a few days ago (Yay for sales at A.C. Moore). I also had to buy size 3 circulars because my Denise doesn’t go down that small :(. The gauge is quite intimidating, but I’m determined to conquer it, even if I never ever knit that small again.

March 17, 2007. Knitting, Yarn. 3 comments.


I just started the Spring Fresh Shrug today after going to the LYS to pick up the large size Denise needles in #17 & #19. I’m knitting it with Lion Brand Romance yarn in purple. The yarn is so soft and wonderful! I fell in love with it as soon as I saw it at the store. The whole 1-ball a garment thing really appealed to me too (I hate sewing in ends). Here’s my progress:

This is only with 1 hour of knitting! It’s worked in a size 15 needle, which means it knits up really quick. Talk about instant gratification.

The only problem is that the yarn is so soft and slippery that I have trouble controlling it on my needle. It slips off often. The good news is that all the fuzzies make the yarn hard to unravel, so even if I drop stitches, it’s not too big a deal. In fact, it was so hard to unravel that I had to keep my gauge swatch (because I couldn’t undo it!)

If I keep procrastinating on homework, maybe the shrug will be done tonight! Hmmm…

March 15, 2007. Knitting, Yarn. Leave a comment.

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