My wife took up knitting about three years ago. One day, she expressed the need for a yarn swift, which is a device that supports a skein of yarn as it is wound into a ball on a winder. Yarn swifts can be relatively simple or complex in design, but good ones can be quite expensive, so that night I took it upon myself to use my design skills and large stash of K'NEX to try my hand at making one for her. After a few hours of work and some subsequent design tweaks, this is what I came up with.
This swift features adjustable arms to accommodate various skeins and to collapse somewhat for storage. It also has an extension to serve as a mount for a yarn winder. The mount is specifically designed for the Lacis Yarn Ball Winder II, although it could likely be modified to accommodate other winder models. Please note that I have not included instructions for other winder models as I do not currently have access to them. If you happen to own a different winder, use this as an opportunity to get creative! Also, if you would prefer to mount your winder separately, you can always omit the mount extension portion of the design, which should become apparent as you browse through the photos. In other words, feel free to modify this design in any way which best suits your yarn winding needs.
Step 1: Preliminary Notes and Parts List
Throughout the instructions I may refer to certain pieces, mainly the rods and connectors, by a color in order to specify their size or shape. The colors I refer to will usually be the original colors used by K'NEX for these pieces (see labeled photo above). However, keep in mind that a given piece will often be available in more than one color, and that the photos in my instructions will often feature these multiple colors. So, for example, if I refer to a "yellow" rod in the instructions, keep in mind that the rod in the photo may actually be gold. I may or may not make note of the color difference in the text. I may also refer to the shape (e.g. a "circle" connector = a "white" connector) In general, the color that you use won't matter as long as the part is the same size or shape, unless I explicitly say otherwise.
I may also refer to "3D" connectors. These are the combinations of purple and blue connectors that allow you to build out in three dimensions. I will refer to these combinations as purple/purple, purple/blue, or blue/blue. Again, keep in mind that the actual colors may vary in the photos.
There may be instances where you don't have an exact part that I call for in the instructions. If this is the case, use substitutions as appropriate. I will try to provide some guidance for certain aspects of the build, but I can't accommodate every unique situation you may face, and so I will trust that your common sense will guide you through the rest.
I use a lot of spacers (e.g. blue rings/spacers and silver spacers) in this build. Following from the discussion on substitution, keep in mind that one silver spacer equals three blue spacers, so you can always make that substitution if needed. If you don't have enough spacers, you can try to use something like a small grey connector to replace two blue spacers, as long as the size of the connector doesn't get in the way of something else. However, there are places where you will need at least some blue spacers, so if you don't have any, you may be out of luck unless you are willing to cut some connectors in half. If you have none, I would highly recommend acquiring some before starting.
I have done my best to provide an approximate parts list (see image). Keep in mind that the blue and purple connectors are listed individually, so you will need to assemble them into the required purple/purple, blue/purple, and blue/blue connectors. The tires are also listed separately from the wheels since some wheels are used without the tires. The large gear may come in black or yellow. If you intend to purchase all of the parts based on the list, I would recommend purchasing extras of at least the basic rods and connectors and spacers just in case. If you believe the parts list is inaccurate, please let me know so that I can try to fix it.
Step 2: Starting the Base
Begin by building the lower layer of the base. The photos show the overall layout as well as close-ups of the swift end (to the left) and the winder end (to the right). Note the locations and orientations of the blue/blue connectors on the mount end (annotated in photo).
Step 3: Base (cont'd)
Now add blue and yellow rods to the lower layer of the base as shown in the various views. The blue rods extend vertically and the yellow rods extend diagonally. There is also an "X" shaped piece made of a white circle and four white rods attached to the blue/blue connectors located near the center of the base.
Step 4: Base (cont'd)
To give the base some extra grip on surfaces like hardwood floors, tile, or table tops, you can add some small tires at several locations around the base as shown. The number and locations of these tires is not critical, but make sure you add enough to fully support the base. Note that the tires are locked in place by the tan lock so that they don't rotate - we are relying on the rubber tires to act as gripping feet, not as rollers.
Step 5: Base (cont'd)
Now, build the top layer of the base as shown. It is similar to the lower layer, but the swift end includes an arrangement of rollers (small wheels) which will serve as a stable support for the rotating swift. Pay close attention to the numbers and types of spacers used to position the wheels radially from the center of the arrangement (keeping in mind appropriate substitutions if necessary), as shown in the close-up photos. If you don't have a lot of these small wheels, you can omit every-other one so that there are four instead of eight.
Step 6: Base (cont'd)
Now, assemble the top layer of the base to the rods extending upward from bottom layer as shown. If the previous steps were done correctly, the attachment locations between the parts should be apparent. The final assembly should be fairly rigid and should sit on a flat surface without wobbling.
Step 7: Winder Mount
This next portion is what the yarn ball winder gets mounted to. As noted in the intro, the mount is specifically designed to accommodate the Lacis Yarn Ball Winder II. It may fit other winders, or you may need to modify it or design a different one altogether depending on the model you have.
Assuming you decide to include this particular mount, build it as shown, and attach it on top of the mount end of the base.
Step 8: Starting the Swift
Start the swift by making the two portions shown. Assemble them together so that the ring-shaped portion surrounds the other portion as shown.
Step 9: The Swift (cont'd)
Now make this next part and add it on top of the previous assembly as shown. Pay close attention to the orientations of the blue/blue connectors.
Step 10: The Swift (cont'd)
Now make these four "K"-shaped parts and attach them to the previous assembly as shown.
Step 11: The Swift (cont'd)
Now make this octagonal shaped part and attach it to the previous assembly as shown. Again, pay close attention to the orientations of the blue/blue connectors.
Step 12: The Swift (cont'd)
Now add four grey rods to the top of the previous assembly as shown.
Step 13: the Swift (cont'd)
Now make another octagonal part as shown, as well as the square part. Assemble them together using eight white rods and gray connectors to space them apart as shown. Instead of each gray connector, you could use two blue spacers or another type of connector. It is only important that you have some sort of spacer between the octagonal and square parts.
Step 14: the Swift (cont'd)
Now take the previous octagon/square assembly and slide it over the grey rods of the other previous assembly, making sure the square side faces down. The octagon/square assembly should be able to slide up and down over the grey rods.
The purpose of adding the square portion spaced apart from the octagon in the previous assembly is that it helps to keep the assembly aligned on and slide better over the grey rods. I found that the thin octagon alone tended to rack slightly and bind as it slid. Adding some extra depth to the holes through which the grey rods pass through helps align everything better and improve the sliding.
Step 15: the Swift (cont'd)
Now make the square portion shown and use it to cap off the grey rods of the previous assembly.
Step 16: The Swift (cont'd)
Now make the grey rod assembly shown. Slide the end of the grey rod down through the white circle of the top of the previous assembly, and connect it to the blue/purple connector of the sliding octagonal portion.
Step 17: The Swift - Arms
Start the arms of the swift by making eight (8) of the assembly shown. Pay close attention to the different views to ensure that you have the correct pieces and orientations.
Step 18: The Swift - Arms (cont'd)
Now add five grey rods to each of the previous arm assemblies as shown, and connect the opposite ends of the gray rods to the grey connectors on the swift assembly. Do this for all eight arms.
Step 19: The Swift (cont'd)
Now add a white rod with a grey connector to one of the open spaces of the white circle connector at the base of the swift It doesn't matter which open space, as long as the grey connector is toward the top side (within the assembly), and the remainder of the white rod protrudes out of the bottom side. The reason will become apparent in the next step.
Step 20: The Swift (cont'd)
Now make the large gear assembly shown (the gear could also be yellow, and the rod could be grey, although the black rods are stiffer). Slide the long end of the black/grey rod (the end without the spacers) through the white circle connector in the bottom of the swift assembly. Continue sliding it through until it also slides through the next white circle connector within the swift assembly. Add another silver spacer and cap it off with a gray connector. See the various views for guidance. Make sure the gear's teeth are pointing downward before continuing. The protruding white rod from the previous step should enter the off-center hole in the large gear.
Step 21: Assembling the Swift to the Base
Now take the entire swift assembly, being careful not to let the spacers and gear on the gray/black rod fall off, and slide the free end of the rod down through the white circle connector on the base. Continue sliding the rod down through the white circle connector until you can snap the end of the rod into the purple/blue connector at the bottom of the base. The teeth of the gear should now sit within the small wheels, and the swift should freely rotate.
Step 22: Attaching the Yarn Ball Winder
Again, these instructions are specifically for the Lacis Yarn Ball Winder II. For this model, locate the clamp foot at the base of the winder. Use the knob to make sure the clamp foot is loosened. Slide the clamp foot over one of the diagonal yellow rods on the winder mount portion of the base. The tan clip on the blue rod hooks over the front of the winder and keeps it from tipping as you crank.
You can mount the winder on either of the two diagonal rods, and the swift will rotate clockwise or counter-clockwise depending on which side you choose. You may need to locate the blue rod/tan clip part to the opposite side of the winder mount accordingly.
Step 23: Operation - Extending and Retracting the Swift Arms
To store the swift, you can retract the arms. To do so, place one hand over the small wheel to keep it from moving. Then grasp the red connector and slide it upward until it stops. The friction provided by the tan locks under the tire should hold the arms in this position. If it is still too loose, you could always add more tan locks (or other connectors) to increase the friction.
To extend the arms outward, such as once you have applied a skein of yard for winding, simply push the red connector downward from the retracted position.