Tools Day: Swift and Winder

When yarn comes on tubes or cones I can use it as is for weaving, but when the yarn comes in skeins I need to do some prep before I can use it for weaving. (HERE is how these skeins looked when I got them.) I use my Beka Yarn Swift and Royal Ball Winder to convert skeins of yarn into balls that I can use for winding my next warp. Most of my weaving friends use an umbrella yarn swift, but I like my Beka swift that I have had for thirty years. (If I do get an umbrella swift someday, I will get one like THIS.)

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Weaving tools: Yarn Swift and Ball Winder

How to place skein of yarn on swift and wind into a ball.
Yarn swift on the white table turns quietly and effortlessly as the yarn is wound onto the ball winder clamped to a wooden barstool placed near the table.

How to use a yarn swift and ball winder:

  1. Carefully open out the skein of yarn, and notice how it is tied.
  2. Place your two arms through the center of the ring of yarn. Sharply pull your arms apart, so the skein is fully outstretched. Turn the circle of yarn about a half-turn, and sharply pull your arms apart again. This will help even out the skein and make it unwind smoothly.
  3. Carefully place the opened skein over the yarn swift.
  4. Loosen or clip the threads (often tied in a figure-eight) that are tied around the skein; be sure to hold onto the two loose ends of the skein, the beginning and end tails.
  5. Take the beginning tail and feed it to the ball winder.
  6. Turn the ball winder handle with one hand, and allow the yarn to loosely glide through your other hand to help maintain an even tension as you wind.
  7. When all the yarn has been wound onto the ball winder, remove ball of yarn by carefully pulling it up and off. (If you want a center-pull ball, which I don’t, be sure to grasp the beginning tail so it is not lost inside the ball.)
  8. Neatly wrap the outer end around the outside of the ball so it is ready to be used.
Winding a ball of yarn from a yarn swift - how to.
If it weren’t for these tools, I would need a very patient helper to hold the skein of yarn between their hands just so, while I would take the end and gradually wind the yarn into a ball. I’m thankful for tools! (Steve is, too.)

Wisdom tools: Work and Thinking Ahead

Work means doing what needs to be done. If I’m a slacker about winding skeins into balls, I’ll have nothing to weave, and no woven handiwork to show.

65% Alpaca 35% Tencel yarn
Ready to wind the warp for the next project on my Glimåkra Standard–an alpaca-tencel shawl with a lace weave.

Solomon had this to say –

The sluggard does not plow in the autumn; he will seek at harvest and have nothing.

What about other areas in life? What needs to be done now to ensure fruit in the next season?

May your harvest exceed your expectations.


2 thoughts on “Tools Day: Swift and Winder

  1. I liked your tutorial on the Beka swift and the royal winder. I live in Canada and we have no suppliers of the prodect here. Before I commit to buying the Beka would you be so kind as to tell me the measurement of the base of the frame, not the foot support but the lower skein area and the upper width as well. I am limited in my space on a table and size is important. Thank you for your time.
    Knittingly yours, Mary

    1. Hi Mary,

      The widest part at the lower end of the frame is 80 1/2 inches around. The upper part is 46 1/2 inches around. I am going to send you an email with pictures and more measurements, including the exact measurement of the cross pieces.

      Happy Knitting,

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