Duct Tape Yarn Swift





Introduction: Duct Tape Yarn Swift

This is an easy to make yarn swift; no measuring, cutting or gluing needed. The only tool needed is pliers. It took me 15 minutes to put together. The materials (coat hangers, duct tape and lazy susan) are things that many of us already have, or can be borrowed or purchased very cheap. The total cost was at least 90% less than the cheapest commercial swift I've seen. Granted it isn't as pretty as a real swift, but functionality was my goal, not aesthetics.

It' s lightweight and easy to set up and take apart. It could be packed in a suitcase easily if you're traveling to a knitter's conference or seminar. The susan isn't modified in any way, so it can go right back in the kitchen when you're done. It works very well with my homemade ball winder.

Step 1: Supplies

two wire coat hangers
duct tape
lazy susan

Note: "lazy susan" is an Americanism for a rotating tray or carousel. These are commonly available in the kitchenware section of retail stores. Prices start at about $4US and go up depending on size. Mine cost $2, but I bought it several years ago on sale.

Step 2: Preparing the Hangers

Untwist the neck of your hangers and straighten them all the way out. You only need to get the major bends out, it doesn't have to be perfect.

You may or may not need the pliers for this step; depends on how strong you are and how well your hangers are soldered at the twist. Some hangers are made of a more brittle metal, and a piece may break off during this step. Don't worry, there's plenty left for what you need.

Step 3: Shaping the Hangers

Bend your hangers into a shape roughly like the picture. Again, perfection isn't necessary. You will be able to adjust all you want once everything's all finished. The bottom edge is somewhere between 14-16 inches wide (35-41cm).

My lazy susan has a lip around the edge, so I put a slight curve in the bottom. This makes sure that the hanger has some contact with the bottom of the susan when it gets taped down in the next step. If your susan is completely flat, you won't need the curve.

Step 4: Final Assembly

Center one of your hangers across the susan and tape it down with the "arms" sticking upwards.
Now tape the other one down crosswise to the first, so they are perpendicular. Add tape where needed to keep them upright.

You're done!

Step 5: Adjustments

Just like a regular swift, this one is adjustable for the size of your hank. The goal is to have just enough tension to hold the hank securely, but not so much that it stretches the yarn.

To adjust, pull or bend the wires upwards and/or outwards as shown by the arrows. Ideally, you'll want the wires spread just a little bit wider than the diameter of your hank. When you place the hank on, the springiness of the wires will pull it gently outwards keeping it from slipping down.

To use with bigger hanks, bend the arms as shown in the second photo.

My susan is lightweight plastic. When the yarn hit some resistance, the susan would sometimes slide towards me or even backspin a little bit. I solved that with a couple cans of soup spaced evenly for balance. The extra weight helps control the spin and adds stability.

I haven't had any problems, but if your yarn snags on the ends of the arms, you could try:
slipping a piece of plastic tubing over them (aquarium air tubing, maybe?)
wrapping with masking tape
dipping in plastic dip coating sold for hand tools

If you have an old turntable around, you could tape your swift to it, and have a powered swift for winding hanks.

If I had money to waste, I might use this idea to make a nice looking swift with a wooden susan and heavy copper wire. The wire could be screwed down with some nice looking brackets or metal plates of some sort.



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    a great idea! The flimsy swift I have is so annoying I may try this instead...Thanks!

    Again, please educate me. What does this device used for? I don't seems to have problem with the standard yarn 'bunch' at all...

    5 replies

    Yarn swifts are used to hold hanks of yarn while you are winding the yarn into a ball for easy use. Hanks of yarn = gathered loops of yarn (think of how you loop a garden hose). By winding hanks into balls (or cakes, as some call them) of yarn, you can then work with the yarn (knit, crochet) more easily. Trying to work from a hank is a nightmare of snarls and tangles. Hope this helps.

    Yarn swifts are also used by people who like to spin or dye their own yarn, which is why I have been wanting one for a while and love the idea of one even I can make. A handyman, I am not!

    Thanks. I get the idea better now.

    The standard skeins of yarn from a craft or fabric store aren't usually a problem. Swifts and ball winders come into play with the kind of handspun and/or hand-dyed yarns you get from a specialty yarn shop. Picture the guy looking resigned while his wife winds a big loop of yarn off the hands he's holding up into a ball. The swift takes the place of the hands holding the loose hank of yarn. I wish I'd had this swift and a ball winder a little while ago. I couldn't, for the life of me, find the center-pull of a skein of Lion Brand Homespun. I finally ended up pulling the paper band off and winding it into a ball by hand. Now I'm having to chase the ball around while I'm crocheting with it. The cats love it.


    If I get a rogue yarn ball I trap it in a coffee tin with a grommet pounded into the lid. I run the yarn up through the hole, seal up the lid crochet away. The ball stays clean and out of the reach of devious little paws.


    By the way, it is possible to use paper document clips instead of duct tape. They are more powerful and steady.


    It's great!
    I will use my revolvable table stand for this purpose.
    Very, very useful instructable!

    Love it! Gonna make it tonight!
    I like the coffee can idea too! Kitty has commandeered several expensive balls.
    I did stick my nice new skeins into cleaned soda bottles (slicing them around near the mid section, and running a bit of the pull yarn through the neck and taping it into place. I then resealed the bottle with some clear packing tape. Keeps it clean and the kitty discouraged. Oh, it makes doing some of the more complicated/multi skein pieces much easier to keep straightened.

    thats very smart!!! i liked your idea for the yarn winder thing!! drills are fun!!

    Just" unvented" as Elizabeth Zimmerman said, my own yarn swift. Put a very large ,heavy vase on a turntable, put a large, wide lampshade {wider at bottom} on top of vase and draped yarn hank over this. Works a treat. Son gave me winder thingy but didn't want to be piggy and ask for expensive swift. Have even wound really fine lace yarn on it. First attempt by hand still has walls echoing rather blue language. New England thrift wins again !!! Am merrily winding my stash into neat balls. Hope to live long enough to knit it all !!

    I've only just gone from one bobbin to four, and then was thinking.. if only I had one of them "arm" thingys and a ball winder! Yay. I can make this work!!!

    I have to admit I was a bit skeptical of this at first but I thought I would try it. I absolutely LOVE it! Took me less than an hour to make (and that was while watching CSI) and materials were under $5.00. Thank you for such a great Instructable!

    Brilliant. Life saver.

    This is great...I was just looking at swifts online today and they're unreasonably expensive. Thanks!