Tools for the knitter

Making tools is always a fun diversion from other shop projects, like things for your wife.  Making a tool you've never made before always teaches you a new skill.  But making a tool you've never made before for your wife... now you're on to something!

My wife is a talented knitter.  She collects yarn like I collect wood; you can never have enough of either! Sometimes she buys yarn that has been locally spun and dyed, then wound into skeins (around another cool tool called a niddy-noddy).  A loose skein is of little use to her, so she needed a way to easily make loose skeins into a yarn ball. Enter the woodworker...

This is called an umbrella swift.  The bows are made of 1/4" thick walnut; the central pike and hubs are birch.  The attaching jaw is hard maple, with an oak screw. The bottom hub slides up and down to adjust the diameter of the swift, to accomodate skeins of different lengths, as well as to allow the skein to close down for storage.

All the joints are tied with hemp cord, except where the bows attach to the hubs.  This was done with fine gauge wire for durability and ease of attachment.  The bottom hub rides on a fence, which tightens with a thumbscrew to lock in the setting.

In action, the swift bows and hubs rotate around that central pike, providing a convenient way to control a loose skein while it is wound into a ball.  To use the swift, you also need a nostiprinne.

This is essentially a stick around which a ball of yarn is created.  There are crank machines available that do this, but they are almost all made of cheap Chinese plastic, so no thank you.  This takes a little longer to create a ball of yarn but it was made by me, on my spring pole lathe, from locally harvested wood.



  1. Zach:

    Do you have / can you point me towards a set of plans for the swift. I need or at least want to make one for a friend.

    Lovely work.

    Thanks, Scott

  2. Scott,

    The best resource I can point you to is Roy Underhill's The Woodwrights Workbook. This book details construction. It doesn't give plans, but you can do it without a plan. My bows are 24", the central pike is 3/4", the hubs are 2.5" in diameter. I can get more detailed dimensions later if you like.


  3. Zach: Thanks, I'll get a copy of the book and go from there. If or when I run into problems I'll send you a plaintive email.

    Thank you again,