DIY Yarn Swift!

Today I’ve got another DIY for you – how to make your own yarn swift from things you can pick up at Goodwill!

DIY Yarn Swift with green yarn on it

I’ve needed a swift for a long time, but it never seems to make it to the top of the supply list, so I thought for quite a while about how I could just make one with stuff I had on hand or could pick up used. My first idea was an upside down umbrella, but I couldn’t quite figure out how to make the yarn stay where I wanted. My next thought was an expandable wine rack, which is actually what I went to find at Goodwill, but they didn’t have one, so I ended up with the coat rack instead, and I think it actually worked better. If you’d like to make one, please read on!

To make this project, you will need:

1 Expandable Coat Rack,

4 Large Pegs (I used these Shaker Pegs that we found at Home Depot, but any pegs that are about 3 inches or longer will work)

1 Lazy Susan (Mine is a 15 inch from Ikea. I wouldn’t go any larger than that but smaller would be fine.)

6 screws (The thickness will depend on how thick your shoe rack and Lazy Susan are; you will be screwing two of them into both pieces to hold them together, so you’ll want the screws to be long enough to get through both. Mine were about two inches.)

A drill (While this project could be done with just a screwdriver, it would take a lot of arm power and time. I don’t recommend it!)

I found my pieces in my own hoard of junk, and Goodwill. You could certainly buy each piece new, but I’m not sure it would save you a significant amount. My swift ended up costing about $14, as I already had a Lazy Susan, the drill, and the screws. I bought a coat rack (that was originally $30 at World Market) for $8 at Goodwill, and the pegs were about $6 new at Home Depot.

So, on to making your swift! Start with your coat rack and pegs.

Expandable shoe rack and four wooden pegs (start of DIY yarn swift)

You’re going to be replacing the short peg on each corner with a longer one. Take your drill and make a pilot hole in each peg, like so:

Putting a pilot hole in a wooden peg

Then, take the short pegs off of the corners and replace them with long pegs:

Shoe rack with two pegs replaced with longer ones (part of a DIY yarn swift)

You may be able to reuse the screws that you already took out, but in my case, the short pegs were held on with flat ended screws (rather than the more usual pointed end), so I had to use different ones. Now, see that lone short peg on the very end of the coat rack up there? Go ahead and just turn it around – it might catch the yarn when you’re winding. There’s no need to cut anything or get fancy with it (unless you want to), so just switch the peg to the back. When you’re done, it should look like this on the back:

Back of shoe rack (part of DIY yarn swift)And like this on the front:

Shoe rack with 4 long wooden pegs (part of a DIY yarn swift)

You’re halfway there! Now take your coat rack and center it on top of the Lazy Susan; it doesn’t have to be exact, so I just eyeballed mine, but you could measure if you’d like.

Making a DIY yarn swift with a lazy susan and expandable shoe rack

Then clamp it down so there’s no sliding around while you’re trying to drill.

Making a DIY yarn swift with a lazy susan and expandable shoe rack

Take your drill and put two more pilot holes on the bottom middle rungs, where the pink arrows are pointing in the above picture. You want to put them as far from the very middle as you can, so that you don’t drill into the base. Then drill your screw into each hole; if you find that the pointy end reaches down far enough to touch whatever surface you’ve got your swift on, it’s too long! You want it to go through the coat rack and the Lazy Susan with only a little of the pointy end poking through on the bottom. It should look like this when you’re done:

Making a DIY yarn swift with a lazy susan and expandable shoe rack

And you’re finished! The coat rack part of your swift should still contract in and out, so it should be able to accommodate most skeins of yarn. I tried it out with some Hawthorne Fingering from Knit Picks, and it looked great!

DIY yarn swift made from an expandable shoe rack and a lazy susan

I don’t have a ball winder either, so I use an old medicine bottle, and to show you how to do it, we made a video! It’s my first one, and we accidentally filmed in portrait (not knowing that all editing software turns it into landscape – oops!), but I think it’s got some good info and will teach you how to wind yarn, starting from the very beginning; most of you knitting veterans won’t need it, but I thought it would be a good brush up, or a place to start for newbies!

I hope this helps at least a few of you, and if you end up making one, I’d love to see it on Instagram or Facebook!

Side Table Update

We have a very small living room. Like, can’t comfortably fit a couch small (we’ve tried). Our house is old, and the space we’re using for a living room was meant to be a sort of parlor, as far as we can tell. In any case, we decided a while ago to just have two chairs with a table in between, and I’ve been searching for the perfect side table since. Turns out, tables are crazy expensive, and none of them were exactly what I was looking for, so I decided I’d just have to redo an existing one. You can see where this is going, right? Off to Goodwill, where we found this lovely Ethan Allen table for $10:

Hexagon shaped side table from thrift store, before painting

It was pretty dirty and kind of beat up, and those pulls are just icky, but I had plans! I shanghaied my lovely husband into taking off the handles and the hinges holding on the doors, and then got to painting.

Thrift store side table being painted blue

I used Rustoleum 2x spray paint in color Satin Lagoon. It has the primer and paint all in one, so no sanding or separate primer required. This picture is after the first coat, so you can see it provides pretty good cover right off, but I did three coats just to be sure everything was even and bright. I would definitely recommend waiting 24 hours between each coat; I only waited a few hours in between and while it mostly turned out okay, I had some crackling on the back. It was easy enough to fix by sanding it down and repainting, but it was a pain. I also sprayed a layer of clear acrylic on top to protect the paint…it probably would have been totally fine without it, but I wanted something between the paint and all the things that could ruin it!

We couldn’t just stick those old handles back on my beautiful new paint job, so I found some adorable brass owls (at World Market) to use instead.

Brass door pull shaped like an owl

Our house has closets in the living room that have brass pulls with different animals on them, so I was pretty thrilled to find some that matched the style almost exactly (this is the little bee; there’s also a turtle, a dragonfly, and a frog).

Brass door pull shaped like a bee

We had to put wood putty in the holes for the old handles and drill new holes for the owls, but after painting you can barely tell.

Close up of brass door pulls shaped like an owl

It turned out the perfect color (we have a large painting on the wall that is my loose inspiration for decorating), and fits in great with our chairs!

Side table painted blue with Rustoleum paint

I love that it has some storage in the bottom, as my crafting supplies inevitably make their way out to the living room, and this way I can hide them and pretend I’m not a total mess.

Side table painted blue with Rustoleum paint, side view

It’s just the right size to hold drinks, my bowls of yet more supplies, and whatever else ends up on it. I’m quite happy with it, especially since all the supplies, including the table itself, ended up being less than $30!

Before and after of repainted thrift store side table

Now, on to fixing that chair…

Sewing Box Makeover

I scored several great finds on our last Goodwill trip, so you’ll be seeing makeover projects a lot around here in the next few weeks – hope you don’t mind! This week, a sewing box. We were cruising around the furniture section and this fantastic box was just hanging out above the sofas:

Old wooden circular sewing box before update

I was drawn by those amazing hinges, and then I opened it up…

Old wooden circular sewing box before update

…and saw the spool holders! I think you’ll agree that it had to be mine. I loved the wood, but it was really beat up and the wood was splintering a bit, so I decided it would need to be painted. Luckily, I just acquired a bunch of Martha Stewart craft paint, so I had lots of colors to choose from (these are just a few).

Martha Stewart satin craft paint

I decided on blue and got to work. I have to tell you, this might be my new favorite crafting item. The paint is nice and thick, so it covers really well, and the coats dry quickly. One coat provided enough coverage that it probably would have been enough, but two gives it a really solid color. It doesn’t smell, and washes easily off of brushes and hands. It comes in a huge range of really nice colors, and the color on the label is pretty true to what’s in the bottle. I would highly recommend them – I’m now actively looking for things to paint :P.

Once I got the color on, though, I decided that it just wasn’t enough (not the paint’s fault at all, just me being picky), so I broke out the Modge Podge and covered it in some leftover Birch fabric. This is what I ended up with:

Thrift store wooden circular sewing box after update, modge podged with fabric

The underside of the lid is painted white, and I ended up mixing red and blue to get a dark purple for the inside and the handle.

Thrift store wooden circular sewing box after update, modge podged with fabric

The hinges definitely look old and a bit tarnished, but they’re so pretty that they had to stay.

Close up of hinges on thrift store wooden circular sewing box

I left those spool holders (obviously!) and it is perfect for my current hexie project. I think I may add a little box or maybe a pocket at some point, to have a place to store extra needles and my thimble and other odds and ends, but I’m pretty happy with it for now!

Inside of thrift store wooden circular sewing box, with spools of thread and paper pieced hexagons

The final tally was $6 for the box, maybe $1 for the Modge Podge, and about $1.50 for the paint (the fabric was in my stash). Well worth it, in my opinion!

Before and after of thrift store wooden sewing box

Lots of Little Things – And Meeting Debbie Bliss!

First, I must apologize for my longish absence; I was sick for a little while there. But, I’m on the mend and I have lots of little things to share! First up, I got a wild hair and decided to make a wallet for my mom:

Wallet made from Michael Miller Just My Type Letterpress

I was fairly happy with it, although there were a few things I’d change next time. It’s hard to tell, but I used iron-on vinyl on the outside, to make it more water and dirt proof. It made the fabric really thick and difficult to sew, which my poor little machine was not happy about. Because of that difficulty, the pockets on the inside did get slightly crooked.

Inside of wallet made with Michael Miller Just My Type Letterpress

It basically flat out refused to sew the velcro, so that part took me a lot longer than I’d been expecting. This frustration led to deciding it was finally time to get a more heavy duty machine, which I’ve needed for quite a while (I have a little Brother machine that I love, but she just isn’t up to the amount of quilting I do). A trip to Goodwill later, and this beauty went home with me!

1970s Kenmore Sewing Machine

She needs some cleaning and servicing, but runs great and is super heavy, so no more shuttering all over the table! Now she just needs a name…any suggestions?

I also finished this little guy, for a sweet brand new baby boy.

Hand knit brown teddy bear wearing a blue bow

He was an order from my Etsy store, and measured about 17 inches high. He was so cuddly and huggable, I kind of wanted to keep him, but I decided the baby probably needed him more :). The pattern is this one from Debbie Bliss, which I’ve made several times and continue to fall in love with.

And, speaking of Debbie Bliss, she was visiting Seattle recently, and guess who got to meet her!

Girl standing with Debbie Bliss wearing a dress made from Michael Miller Just My Type LetterpressYes, that is yours truly, standing next to Debbie Bliss, and wearing one of the sweaters she brought with her, from the new fall designs. This one is knit from the new Roma yarn, and that and the sweater design should be available at the end of summer, from what I understand. This is another from the same collection:

Girl wearing sample of a gray Debbie Bliss designed sweater

It was an awesome afternoon. There weren’t that many people there, so we were each able to talk to Debbie and try one a bunch of sweaters. She talked a lot about her design process, and how to knit for yourself. Interestingly, she recommends that you pick a sweater pattern based on your shoulder measurement rather than your bust measurement, especially if there’s a lot of ease in the pattern. In hindsight, this makes a lot of sense, since a lot of the time when I make a sweater in “my” measurements, I’m not happy with the fit. But I have a couple of sweaters that got made a size or two small, and they fit great. I went home incredibly inspired and ready to work…and she complimented my dress, which pretty much made my week!

Hope everyone is having a great summer (and beating the heat), and I should be back to regularly scheduled postings next week!