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!

The Cloud Blankie

Hello hello lovelies! I hope everyone is enjoying your summer weather (or winter weather, for my friends in the southern hemisphere!); it’s been very warm here in Seattle, but we’re finally have a little break today, and it reminded me that I hadn’t posted about my latest blanket. I’m calling it “The Cloud Blanket” because I think the stitch looks kind of like a cloud, and its made with a super soft and cushy yarn in sky colors…or at least the skies here in the Pacific Northwest!

Tunisian shell stitch crochet baby blanket, made with Cascade Yarns Cherub Chunky in blue, gray, cream

This blanket started out as an experiment; I saw the Tunisian Shell Stitch Shawl and was intrigued by how complicated and pretty it looked, so I looked it up (this post is an excellent tutorial) and started practicing. I really hadn’t been intending to make a project, just play around with the stitch and see how it worked, but…well, I think we all know how that goes! I absolutely loved how it started looking, and a design slowly started taking shape in my head, so I went with it. Once I got going, I decided it would be a baby blanket for a special little guy who was due in a couple of months – I still hadn’t decided on a baby shower present, and it seemed perfect.

Tunisian shell stitch crochet baby blanket, made with Cascade Yarns Cherub Chunky in blue, gray, cream

I used Cascade Yarns Cherub Chunky because it’s what I had on hand, and I ended up sticking with it, because it’s just so darn cushy. It’s a newer yarn from them, a chunkier version of their cherub line (also check out the Cherub Aran, Cherub Baby, and Cherub DK…I love them all), which I appreciate because I’ve been doubling Cherub Aran to make thicker stuff, like the Transenna Blanket. As I’ve said before, this is my favorite acrylic yarn – it’s incredibly soft, washes well, and is very affordable. I’ve made everything from sweaters to blankets to slippers from this yarn (in all different weights) and have been pleased every time. This blanket is made in Ecru, Grey, and Baby Blue.

Tunisian shell stitch crochet baby blanket, made with Cascade Yarns Cherub Chunky in blue, gray, cream

I didn’t really swatch, so I just cast on however many stitches I thought looked right, and of course it ended up much larger than I had been intending, at 45″ X 50″. By the time I realized that it was going to be way too big, I was too far along and decided to just soldier on, figuring that it would make a good floor blankie for tummy time, and that eventually he’d grow into it! I’m writing up the pattern for this one, but making it smaller will be a major tweak in the final write up…unless there’s demand out there for a huge baby blanket pattern?? Let me know in the comments! I’d like to start a list of possible pattern testers as well, so please also let me know if you’d like to be included!

When it was all done, I thought it needed a finishing touch, so I added some edging in the cream color (and had just the right amount of yarn left to do it!). I’m not exactly sure what this edging stitch is called, or where I learned it, but I think it was the right choice here.

Edging on tunisian shell stitch crochet baby blanket, made with Cascade Yarns Cherub Chunky in blue, gray, cream

I really love how this one turned out, but more importantly, I got the best reaction from new mama-to-be Aliya when she opened it! This is the face you hope everyone makes when you give them a handmade gift :).

Woman opening tunisian shell stitch crochet baby blanket, made with Cascade Yarns Cherub Chunky in blue, gray, cream

Happy friday and have a fantastic weekend everyone!

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

Frogged – Midsummer Aran / WIP Simply Marilyn

Remember this sweater?

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Another lesson in why you should always make a swatch. I was too impatient to get it on my needles, and in love with the color of the yarn, so I just started it, knowing in a little part of my brain that it was a mistake. Well, I got about halfway through and realized that the sweater was basically going to be wide enough for a giant!

Once I finally admitted to myself that this yarn was just not going to work with this pattern, frogging commenced. Non-knitters (like my husband) are always incredibly traumatized to watch you rip out what seems to them like so much work, but most knitters I know just kind of shrug and accept it as part of the process. I knit to knit, and an inevitable part of that is frogging. When it was all ripped out, I decided that I still loved the color but needed a more appropriate pattern. I picked out an oldie but goodie: Simply Marilyn by Debbie Bliss. She’s one of my favorite designers (which is probably fairly obvious by now), and I know that when I make one of her patterns, I’m going to be happy with it. I’m nearly done with the back, and I’m loving it so far (and since I actually made a swatch, it appears that it will fit this time!).

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I’m holding the yarn doubled and am using size 8 needles, so it’s going fairly quickly. The front and the back are made the same up to the arm holes, and it would be really easy to make in the round if someone was so inclined – in fact, I’ve been considering frogging what I have and doing just that. The one part of knitting that I do find tedious is sewing seams, and I dislike it enough to make starting over worth it. I also added a little band of ribbing at the bottom, since I like my sweaters to be longer, and the rolling hem when you do straight stockinette drives me crazy (even when it’s supposed to be like that). It should match the ribbing on the sleeves, so hopefully it won’t look too out of place.

This yarn has a pretty sheen to it, so I’m loving the way that the simple design showcases that:Image

It’ll be even prettier after it’s been washed; the best part about this yarn (Caron Simply Soft) is that you can wash and dry it, and it makes the garment have a nice, fluid drape. Assuming you got the gauge right to begin with, of course :P.

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!

WIP – Woven Squares

As I mentioned before, we traveled to see family recently, and part of the travel was an almost 9 hour car trip. Before we went, I got one of these:

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Yes, it’s a $5 kid’s loom that’s meant to make potholders out of those little loops, but I am having so much fun with it! I used this tutorial on making coasters from The Purl Bee, with a little modification. The “pins” on my loom are set a little differently, but I was able to do the three layer warp anyway:

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And then wove according to the directions:

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Really the only part that need a lot of modification was the sides. Once it was all done, I felt like there was a little too much wiggle room, so I used a crochet hook to finish:

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It turned out really nice, with a cute crochet edge.

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My plan is to make a bunch of the squares, alternating which color I use for the warp, and then join them together to make a sweet little baby blanket. The squares go pretty quickly and are super fun to make – I highly recommend this project!