PlanetJune Craft Blog

Latest news and updates from June

reconstructing a yarn swift

Thanks to Heather and Jesse, I now have a very cool vintage umbrella swift, with one slight problem: the spinning part is missing, so all I had was the umbrella part to hold the yarn. I’ve been waiting for months to find the time to buy wood and get my handy husband to help me make 1) a new base that I can clamp to the table and 2) some sort of rotation mechanism so it can spin freely. So far, we’d only got as far as finding a Lazy Susan bearing mechanism.

Yesterday I got sick of waiting and decided to rig something from available materials: cardboard, craft glue, and thumbtacks. Less than an hour later, I had a functional yarn swift and ball winder combo:

yarn swift

All I did was build 2 cardboard blocks, each made from 3 layers of corrugated cardboard glued together. Corrugated cardboard is very strong, especially if you stack each piece at 90 degrees to the last so the ribs run perpendicular to each other. Here you can see the swift in action: the bottom block remains still, while the top block and swift both rotate as the ball winder pulls on the yarn:

yarn swift

This was my magic idea that would allow it to work without damaging the swift with glue or nails: before I assembled the top block, I cut a fitted hole into each layer of cardboard. With the swift snugly embedded into the cardboard, the two should be able to rotate together:

yarn swift

Here you can see the Lazy Susan ball-bearing mechanism between the two cardboard blocks. I attached it to the blocks with a simple thumbtack through the screw hole at each corner and pushed into the cardboard:

yarn swift

The moment of truth – does it really work? I wasn’t sure if it’d need some sort of non-slip mat underneath the bottom cardboard block, or a clamp to attach it to the table, but it was perfectly stable without either; as I turned the handle on the ball winder, the swift started to spin easily, allowing more yarn to be wound…

yarn swift

…until, within minutes, the entire hank had become a beautiful centre-pull ball. This is the first time I’ve ever been able to wind an entire 400m laceweight yarn hank without getting into a terrible tangle.

yarn swift

Once the umbrella is folded up, the whole thing is very conveniently small:

yarn swift

It’s so refreshing for me to take a break from my usual perfectionism and just MacGyver a ‘good-enough’ solution to a problem. It may not last forever, but I can easily make replacement cardboard pieces (or a sturdier solution, when I have time) – it’d only take seconds to remove the thumbtacks and have the bearing mechanism ready for reuse. But this is the perfect solution for now.

Mission accomplished: now I can crochet my gorgeous yarn into a new design!


  1. futuregirl said

    Hooray for good enough! Don’t you just want to eat those little fluffy cakes of yarn? I always do.

  2. Leah Bommarito said

    Hi.. I just wanted to take a moment to say your blog is really inspiring in so many crafty ways. I also wanted you to know that I nominated your site for The Versatile Blogger Award here:

  3. Chrisie Merriman said

    What a great solution!
    I’ve been eyeing the KnitPicks yarn swift and ball winder… the first (and only) time I’ve tried to hand-wind a lace skein did not turn out well. 🙁 Maybe I just need the right tools.

    • June said

      I’d definitely think about getting the KnitPicks set, if you’re going to be winding yarn regularly – the ball winder I bought locally (in Canada) was twice the price of the KnitPicks one, and having a swift makes a huge difference! If not, most LYSs will wind your purchased yarn for you instore, if you ask them (I know that’s not much help for the yarn you’ve already bought!)

  4. Birdie said

    Lovely! You are so creative! I’m glad you figured out a way to get it to work!
    (wish I had one) 😉

  5. Jesse said

    Brilliant! So glad you got it working!

    • June said

      I’m glad too! Now it’s all ready for you (and any other Capetonians who have yarn to wind) to come over and use it 😀

RSS feed for comments on this post

Leave a Reply

Thank you so much for taking the time to leave a comment here! I read and appreciate every comment. I only respond to questions here on the blog, so please return to this page to see my reply, or check the box below to subscribe to new comments by email.

Please note that I can only answer questions related to PlanetJune patterns and tutorials (see details), and I can only respond to questions or comments written in English. Thank you :) - June

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • Quick Links: Crochet

    navigation: arrow

    buy crochet patterns and accessories from my online store

    Everyday Crochet, and the Idiot's Guides to Crochet and Amigurumi by June Gilbank

    Crochet video tutorials and step-by-step photo tutorials

    Free PlanetJune crochet patterns

    Frequently Asked Questions

    Quick Links: Crafts

    navigation: arrow

    Punchneedle Embroidery information, ebook & patterns

    Papercraft ebook & tutorials

    Free PlanetJune craft projects & tutorials

  • Blog Post Categories

  • Blog Archives

  • Welcome to PlanetJune!

    June Gilbank

    Hi, I'm June. Welcome to my world of nature-inspired crochet and crafting. I hope you enjoy your visit!

    If you'd like to get in touch, you can contact me here.
    crocheted Canadian flag by PlanetJune
  • Support PlanetJune!

    Want to say thanks? You can send me money in seconds at (over $20) or (under $20) or send me a donation through my shop.

    Or simply click through from my links before you shop at Amazon, Etsy, KnitPicks, LoveCrafts or, and I'll make a small commission on your purchase, at no cost to you! Start here:

    ♥ Support PlanetJune ♥

    Tip: This link is also in the footer of every page!

    Thank you so much for your support!