I have been coveting swifts and ball winders lately. As I get away from buying Red Heart crappy acrylic and buying nicer yarns (yes, acrylic among them, but still - nicer acrylic), I'm finding the yarn is sold less in center-pull skeins or balls and more in twisted hanks, which is a pain in the tucas to work from. I can get by without a ball winder, as I can wind the yarn on my fingers just fine (though I ought to learn how to make a center-pull by hand). But a swift is just plain indispensable. Until recently, I'd only seen the umbrella-style swifts in stores. I really don't have anywhere to keep one set up, and if it's not up and ready to go, I'll never get around to getting it out. But a week or so ago, I saw a different style, the second one down here. It's four arms, each arm has a series of holes, and there's pegs for each arm - you adjust for the loop of yarn by moving the pegs closer in or further out. The whole contraption rotates on a base. I had the opportunity to try it out while winding the yak yarn.
It occurred to me that it's basically a lazy susan with adjustable pegs. Well, heck. The swift was beautifully crafted wood. But not a terribly complicated deisgn. So today I bought a lazy susan. Took it home and placed four canned food cans on it. Adjusted for circumference of hank/loop of yarn I needed to wind. Worked fabulously! The yarn started slipping upwards at one point, threatening to come up off the cans. If this becomes a problem, I can put a small cookie sheet on top, and put another can on top of that to weight it down.
18" lazy susan, $7.50 (after family/employee discount at Storables - was orignally $13) 4 cans of food, approximately 79 cents each (already on hand)
handmade wooden swift bought at yarn shop ~ $54.95 (and up to $150, depending on the model)
solving the problem with low-tech ingenuity: savings of $44 and up.
Why yes, I'm rather pleased with myself. :)
I do think that, if I simply cannot resist an automatic winder, I will treat myself to an actual ball winder and not use a mixer, no matter how tempting it sounds.