Knitters have their yarn and their needles. They have gadgets and do-dads, too. And books — oh, the books.  I certainly have more than my share of all these things.

There are a few knitting things that I’ve had since The Beginning. One of them is my umbrella swift, and I think of it as one of the most important tools of my knitting trade. Without it I’d have a hard time wrangling those beautiful skeins of Brooklyn Tweed LOFT, or my favorite Sundara Sock Yarn, or the delicate Spirit Trail Nona.

Mine is wooden, probably made by Glimakra, purchased some time around 1980. Its loyal companion is a ball winder, one of those simple plastic wonders that creates the perfect little yarn cake with very little effort.

If you’re a knitter and you haven’t invested in a good swift and ball winder, please do. Clara Parkes summed it up beautifully in her Knitter’s Review article “Tools for Taming Yarn: Umbrella Swifts”:

“If you love knitting, love the feeling you get when you have needles in your hands and yarn in your lap, I urge you to honor this love and start saving for a swift. If you don’t have an immediate need for it, trust me: Someday you will, and you’ll get great joy from being able to use it.”

What’s your most indispensable knitting tool?

7 thoughts on “Swiftly

  1. I love my swift, my husband made it for me and it works like a charm. I paired it with a beautiful handmade nostepinne. I am a happy knitter 🙂


  2. my swift is in storage with the majority of my knitting tools, and I miss it! The essentials I packed for this in-between time away from my stash include 40″ Addi Turbos size 0 – 11, a ruler, Chibi needle case, tape measure, fave stitch markers, and scissors, all packed in my favorite Three Bags Full project bag.


  3. I truly appreciate my swift and a good ball winder. My first ball winder was not the best quality, and when it broke, I decided to spend a bit more money and buy a better one. I no longer have to wrestle with winding my yarn, but can savor the moment instead. A good post; and a lovely blog. I like the new design and the purple house.


  4. I have to agree with you about the ball winder and swift. Being both a spinner and a knitter, I would be lost without mine. For many years I used the back of the chair or my husband as my swift. But once I started spinning, that had to change. There was more yarn for winding than my husband would have the patience for holding, and the chair back was no longer very helpful either. Just too much yarn needed winding. I don’t know how I managed as long as I did, without them both. But I’m so thank now that I have them. 🙂


  5. Until recently, I avoided the swift-and-ball-winder. Because I love winding yarn into balls by hand. I find it soothing in almost (but not quite) the same way knitting is soothing to me. (Touching the fiber must be Enough for me at some level.) But, lately, I’ve come to know and appreciate the speed and efficiency of the swift-and-ball-winder combination. I think I’m sold.


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