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!

Claire’s Shawl

Recently, a good family friend was elected to be a judge. This is, obviously, a very big deal, and I wanted to make something that would attempt to equal the occasion. Meet my version of the Albertine pattern from The Knitter Magazine (special thanks to my lovely friend Aliya for agreeing to be my model for this one!):

Green lacy shawlI picked up some Dream in Color Smooshy with Cashmere (this color is Irish Spring, which it seems from their website might no longer be available) on our last trip to Ashland, and it was perfect for a special occasion gift. I keep saying that I don’t normally go for variegated yarns, but I guess I need to stop, because I’ve bought quite a few lately! It was just too gorgeous to pass over, and the yarn is made of Merino wool and cashmere, so once I picked it up, I just couldn’t bring myself to put it down. It’s amazing to knit with; so, so soft, no splitting, and no breakage (the label says it has a little nylon, so I’m guessing that’s why). I loved it so much that I’m going to buy more (in a different color) when I get around to making my next lightweight sweater. I was actually kind of sad when it was done!

Girl with red hair wearing green Lacy Shawl The shawl turned out a little bit bigger than the one in the magazine, which was just fine with me – I prefer ones that are big enough to wrap (as opposed to just draping, although those are great too!).

Girl with red hair wearing green lace shawlThe only problem is that we only have carpet in one room now, so I’m going to need to invest in some blocking mats at some point. I fudged it by just trying to go around the furniture in the guest room (I also can’t find whatever box I threw my blocking wires into, but luckily the edge turned out pretty straight anyway):

Green lace shawl blockingBy and large, I would recommend this pattern, but  (and I’ve mentioned before with this magazine) I probably wouldn’t attempt it as a new knitter. It wasn’t difficult, but as with most lace knitting, it requires a lot of attention to detail and careful counting, and there was a small discrepancy for me in the third row of eyelet increases. It may have been just me, but I frogged and re-knit it a few times and couldn’t get it to have the right number, so I ended up just adjusting the row to match what it should be. You couldn’t tell in the end, but it’s definitely to sort of thing that could really frustrate someone with not much lace practice.

Girl with red hair wearing green lace shawlProbably my favorite part of this shawl (apart from the color) is the teardrop shape that forms at the bottom of the last section of lace. It’s so pretty and elegant! My version doesn’t hang quite like the one in the magazine, but I think that’s a function of my gauge more than anything else…I could have sized down on my needles and been just fine (I used size 1 for this one; the label recommends 0-2, but I prefer my gauge to be tighter, as a general rule, so I’d go with 0 if I was doing it again). I’d say definitely try this yarn, and the pattern is great if you’re looking for a little bit of a challenge!

Husband Sweater, Take Two

I think I’ve mentioned this before, but my husband is notoriously difficult to buy presents for. His birthday was in November, and I was (as usual) having trouble finding something, when the idea of another sweater came up. Now, you may remember that I made him one before that took a very long time – it started out as a Boyfriend Sweater and ended up being a Husband Sweater (granted, we got married after dating for 11 months, but still). This time I was pretty determined to actually get it done on time…and then of course he liked one that featured colorwork as the main technique.

Colorwork and I are not friends. I’ve attempted it before on a few occasions and have always put those projects aside. It just seemed so impossible to wrangle all those yarns at once, and things get tangled, and then you have those ugly floats one the back…ick. He really liked the pattern though, and it was only two colors, so I decided it was about time for a challenge and cast on. Not only was it done on time (okay, barely, but it was done!), I think I may have officially conquered my fear! May I present, the finished Husband Sweater #2.

Warwick sweater in light brown and navy tweed Berroco yarn

The pattern is the Warwick Sweater by Sarah Hatton from Issue 76 of The Knitter magazine, which I found to be fairly easy to read and understand, although this magazine in general seems geared a bit toward somewhat experienced knitters; the directions assume that you understand most knitting terms and techniques. I’ve been knitting for quite a while and still have to look things up!

Warwick sweater made with light brown and navy tweed yarn, laying on a bed

It took me probably until the end of the first piece (the front) to be pretty comfortable with how my tension was going – getting all those floats to be somewhat even takes a lot of practice. I still wasn’t all the way sure that they were going to block out correctly, but I think they ended up being fairly even and not too loose or tight:

Inside of Warwick Sweater in light brown and navy tweed Berroco yarn, showing even colorwork floats

I continue to totally dislike how the yarn gets tangled and has to be constantly managed (if anyone has tips for that, please let me know!), but by the end I was getting pretty good at judging when those tangles could be left until the end of the row, and when they had to be worked out immediately. Overall though, it was a fun sweater to work on and fit well while piecing, and the shawl collar is really pretty.

Close up of folded Warwick Sweater in light brown and navy tweed yarn from Berroco

I used tweed yarn for the first time, Berroco Blackstone Tweed in colors Steamers (the light brown) and Narragansett (the navy), and for the most part I felt pretty positive about it. The colors are beautiful and play well together (although I can’t take credit for the colors since Kyle picked them out), and it’s very soft to knit with. My only complaint is that it breaks really easily, which made seaming a bit of a trial, but that’s hard to get away from with natural fibers. The only downside is that we’ve had a crazy mild winter here, so the sweater is a little too warm to wear most of the time! He’s gotten to wear it a few times though, and January/February are usually our coldest months, so hopefully there will be a few more chances before spring hits, because I think he looks quite nice in it :).

Man wearing Warwick sweater in light brown and navy tweed yarn from Berroco

Cowls Cowls Cowls (and a scarf)

I’ve been in the mood to make some simple things lately (probably because I have so many boxes to unpack), so I’ve been using up stray skeins of yarn to crochet and knit a few big, chunky cowls (available in the Etsy … Continue reading

A Few Finished Projects

Happy holidays everyone! I’m over here finishing up Christmas presents and planning our dinner, but I do have a few finished projects to show today. I’ve made a lot of hats in the last month or so, for whatever reason. It … Continue reading

Finished project – watercolor baby blanket

So after frogging and knitting it again with smaller needles, and several trial and errors with the border, the Watercolor Blanket is done!

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Originally, I had planned to add a piece of fabric on the back to hide my less than neat colorwork, but then I just couldn’t take it. I felt like there was too much space between stitches for a baby blanket, so I ripped the whole thing out and started again. The original was knit on size 6 needles, which themselves are two sizes smaller than the label recommends. I ended up doing the final product on size 3…I guess I just like my blankies with a really tight gauge. I’m even happier with the way the colors blended with the smaller needles.

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After several tries with attaching the fabric to the back, it just didn’t seem right still, so I ended up completely bagging that idea and just doing a simple seed stitch border on each side. As far as I’m concerned, the seed stitch is the perfect border; it’s simple and clean and works really well for baby stuff. I suspect that I feel this way because a lot of Debbie Bliss patterns include seed stitch, and I love her designs, but I suppose it doesn’t REALLY matter :).

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This time around I managed to be a lot more neat about switching the colors around, so it actually looks pretty good as is. The blanket I made is up for sale in my Etsy shop, or if you fancy making your own, you can get the pattern here. Let me know what you think!

Angie’s Shawl

I had to wait to post this one until it got to it’s intended recipient. My good friends Angie and BJ are getting married this month, and as has become tradition, I made Angie a wedding shawl:

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The yarn is an absolutely stunning glittery mix by Tahki Stacy Charles called Luna, in color Silver Mist. The pictures do not even do it justice – it looks (and feels) like a cloud.

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The pattern is one that I made up by picking out some lace stitches out of my stitch book (The Ultimate Sourcebook of Knitting and Crochet Stitches, for those of you wondering). I ended up with a leaf pattern and a tulip pattern, and added one knit stitch in between to separate the panels a bit:

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For the edges, I tried something new and knit lengthwise across the end of the shawl in a sort of wave pattern (also from the stitch book), working the live stitches into the side of the  pattern as I went. It made for a very soft ripple at each end, and since I’d done a provisional cast on at the beginning end, they turned out pretty evenly matched – always somewhat of a problem with shawls. 

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I’m pretty happy with the result – it’s soft, warm, and just a little glittery, which is perfect for our bride!

Finished Project – Husband Sweater!

The husband sweater is FINALLY done!

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Husband is so happy about this, he had to give a little dance: 

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As I said previously, the sweater started out as this one, but I changed it pretty significantly, so I suppose now I should qualify it as being “based on” that sweater. I changed the side XO cables to a simple lattice cable, and I did a crew neck collar instead of the shawl wrap; when Kyle asked for a sweater, he specifically mentioned cables and a round collar, and I think this fits the bill pretty well. My favorite feature was how the sleeves came together with the front and back; they’re a raglan-type shaping and were a breeze to seam. 

He wore it with his favorite jacket and hat and looked like a million bucks:

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The only downside? I finished it right as we hit a heat wave here in Seattle. Not to worry, though,  the rain always comes back around here, so he’ll get to wear it soon :).