(I will be referring to the photos from left to right, top to bottom.)
So, I recently bought The Oregon Woodworker’s Mama Bear swift and the Royal ball winder. Together with shipping, it was $94.40.
If you are contemplating buying one, you have to ask yourself whether you really need this gadget. Personally, I have wanted one since I got caught up in the knitting fever two years ago, but I tried to hold off. Most yarn stores in the city will wind your yarn for you and many brands come pre-wound in balls. But I’ve recently acquired some skeins from the internet, unwound, and I didn’t want to wind 400 yards of sock yarn by hand. Thus, I gave in. I’m still not sure all knitters need a swift and ball winder, but I am thoroughly enjoying mine, so if you have an extra hundred dollars to spare, go for it.
I chose to get this flat one, instead of an umbrella swift because it took up less space and is easy to pack up. (See photo 1, the swift in its carrying bag.) I also chose to order the ball winder from The Oregon Woodworker, instead of using a coupon and ordering it from JoAnn’s, where it probably would have been a tad cheaper, because I figured if I had any problems, I could contact an actual person to complain, instead of a craft store bureaucracy.
(Photo 2) I love it. And thus, I am hugging it.
(Photo 3) The swift is probably pretty easy to make. I took two and a half years of woodworking in high school, and despite my lack of talent in the woodworking arena, even I think I could make it. You would need some kind of saw (like a band saw or a jigsaw) and some wood. That being said, $51.95 (the price of the swift alone) is fair. If you assume it takes about $10 of lumber and other materials costs, then I think $40 is a fair price for the labor. It’s very carefully made, and I was glad to pay the cost. But if you have a woodshop at home or know someone with one, you might try making one.
(Photo 4) The pegs are adjustable to fit different sized skeins.
(Photos 5-8) The pieces are carefully cut so they’re super easy to put together.
(Photo 9) Peter Charles, the maker, marks the arms with red dots so you know how to match them together.
(Photo 10) A needle-tip protector thing caps off the center pin.
(Photo 11) The ball winder is also very easy to use. The instructions (written by the ball winder people, not Peter Charles), however, are written in goobley-goop. Just look at the pictures and ignore the written words, which confuse “left” and “right.”
(Photos 12-14) I took out the center core to weigh it.
(Photos 15-16) Then I weighed by yarn.
(Photos 17-20) Putting the skein on the swift and attaching the yarn to the winder.
(Photo 21) Occasionally, I would take the ball off the winder, along with the core, and weigh it. I was hoping to have equal amounts in each ball.
(Photos 22-27) Winding…winding…winding…
(Photo 28) Argh! Despite my weighing, one yarn cake is still bigger than the other.
Anyway, my swift is great, and, (according to Peter Charles), since a tabletop swift is the same height as your ball winder, it creates no tension in your yarn cake, a possible problem with umbrella swifts. The only possible flaw I can see with this design is that it is trickier to move the pegs to hold the different sized skeins than in an umbrella swift, which might be a problem if you wind different sized skeins frequently. Otherwise, awesome!