Yarn Swift! (and Electric Mixer Yarn Winding Tutorial)

Last week was so long that I decided to use my 50% off coupon at JoAnn (coupon code MARA550, through 4/28) to buy myself a little present. My new yarn swift arrived today, to Chris' befuddlement (weirdest umbrella he ever saw) and it took approx. 3 minutes for me to get started on trying it out.

A while back, I'd read this detailed tutorial on how to use an electric mixer to wind yarn. My own yarn-winding adventure is documented here, for your reading pleasure. Of course, you may be an intelligent person with $30, and decide to buy a yarn winder instead.

You'll need...
Yarn in a skein
Yarn swift
Electric mixer (a stand mixer if ya got it, and hand mixer for people like moi)
Toilet paper roll
One glove

I started with one skein of Knitpicks Shimmer, a laceweight yarn I was not looking forward to winding by hand:

(1) Load the skein onto the swift, like so. You may want to ask your cat to inspect, to ensure you've done high-quality work on this step:

(2) Now, insert one beater into the t.p. roll. It will be a tight squeeze, but it should fit:

Note that you'll probably want to get yours higher up toward the mixer - that will make it easier later by preventing the possibility that the yarn will stray from the t.p. roll and wind around the beater.

(3) Cut a 1/2" slit in the edge of the t.p. roll and slip the end of the yarn in there, so that it catches.

(4) Now you can set up to wind. Now may be a good time to explain what you'll do. You'll set up your mixer at about the same level as your swift. While holding the mixer with one hand and with the end of the beater resting on the plate below, you will use your free hand to guide the yarn onto the t.p. roll. This is a bit tricky, and your first skein will probably not be perfect.

So... put a glove on the hand you'll use to guide the yarn. I discovered the hard way that, especially with a speedy mixer like ours, you'll get yarn-burn on your hand if you don't take prophylactic measures. Then set up as described above: beater above plate, level with swift, and free hand guiding the yarn onto the tube. Then turn your mixer on to the lowest setting. It will seem too fast, but you'll get used to it:

I wound this 440 yard skein in about three or four minutes. Here is the result:

You can see there are a couple of extra ends poking out of the top, and this is because at some point my yarn wound around the beater. Being lazy and not knowing another way to fix it, I just cut the yarn and figured I'd deal with the break later. Moral: in this world of modern technology, things move so quickly, one must be especially alert to snags and mishaps. You must pay attention to where the yarn is directed at all times!

Anyhoo, if you try this, let me know how it goes for you, and please share any tips you've got.

Posted by jess at March 16, 2005 8:07 AM

Wow, what a great idea! Now, this may be an obvious question - but you then pull the TP roll out and have a center-pull skein, right?

Thanks for the tip!

Posted by: melanie at March 16, 2005 8:34 AM

hm...good question. i thought about that, but i actually think the roll is too wide to pull out without collapsing the ball. maybe with a thicker yarn? i bet if we could think of a way to wind the yarn onto something narrower you could make a center-pull ball.

Posted by: jess at March 16, 2005 9:02 AM

I had visions of trying this -- and being found days later on the kitchen floor, like a fly wrapped and bound in a spiderweb of yarn, with the electric mixer buzzing away somewhere nearby.....I'm still laughing at the image!

Posted by: Sara at March 16, 2005 10:33 AM

ha! excellent!

thanks for the joann coupon tip. i've been lurking on ebay for a swift. i could just buy one from joann.

i'll pass on the mixer though

Posted by: maryse at March 16, 2005 11:26 AM


Posted by: christine at March 16, 2005 11:30 AM

Very entertaining. I bought the winder from Joann's when it was $30 with free shipping and got an email several days later that it was out of stock. So I too have only a swift. Unlike you, however, I also don't have a mixer.

Posted by: Lauren at March 16, 2005 12:43 PM

have the ball winder lol..made my own swift! .. your idea looks nifty though

Posted by: Elizabeth at March 16, 2005 2:56 PM

That is fabulous!

Posted by: Suzanne at March 16, 2005 4:38 PM

How funny and ingenius! I love that colorway btw! What are you going to make with it?

Posted by: atouria at March 16, 2005 5:10 PM

ah, the knitpicks yarn. i agree - i adore the colors!

as with many people, knitpicks has developed a perplexing power over me. as a result i bought one skein of shimmer without a clue in the world as to what i'd do with it. i've considered making a scarf, perhaps the airy scarf from last-minute knitted gifts or one of my own design, but i still don't know. any ideas? have you seen anything particularly cool done with this yarn or a similar laceweight yarn?

Posted by: jess at March 16, 2005 5:59 PM

What a great idea! I just bought a ball winder, but I don't have a swift. So I think I might get on, now with the your special code.

I am excited!

Posted by: Joelene at March 16, 2005 7:24 PM

Oh my goodness! You are quite clever! The cat pic tickles me to no end.

Posted by: la chica alta at March 16, 2005 7:43 PM