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Squirrel Cage Swift

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paulz's picture
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Joined: 07/13/2011

Has anyone any good instructions on using this tool. I have recently got one and coincidentally the lady at the guild suggested I wind some spun yarn I have roughly spun as a preparation for dyeing it. I had assumed it would be easy to figure it out but it has defeated me. If anyone could help I would be grateful.Many Thanks

Paul

Su Butler's picture
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Joined: 06/08/2009
I may be wrong, but I have

I may be wrong, but I have always used and thought of a squirrel cage swift as a means to unwind a skein smoothly. Placing a ball winder on top of the swift the skein will unwind more smoothly than on an umbrella swift.  I have heard tell of winding skeins on this type of swift, but have never seen it donw, nor do I know anyone who has done it.  Internet search doesn't turn up anything either.  I find an electric skein winder a much more useful tool, and have both an umbrella swift and a Crazy Monkey double swift for unwinding after dyeing, etc.  Hope you can find some instruction for your swift.  For unwinding skeins, there are lots of tutorials on the net....for winding them I can't find any info at all.

 

gailc's picture
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Joined: 09/11/2009
Su is correct - a squirrel

Su is correct - a squirrel cage swift allows you to unwind skeins into balls or onto bobbins, but it is not a tool for winding skeins. 

cottageweaver's picture
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Joined: 06/23/2009
Squirrel cage swift

I'll upload a couple of photos under my 'projects' later today.  Yes, the squirrel cage swift is used to hold a skein for unwinding.  The 'cages' hold the skein and rotate as the skein is being unwound.  There should be a way to adjust the distance between the cages to accommodate varying skein sizes.  I use the squirrel cage swift to unwind skeins to the ball winder for weft yarn or knitting yarn.  I have umbrella swifts also, so I use them when I want to wind a warp on the mill directly from skeins, simply because I have multiple umbrella swifts and I don't wind my warps with one thread at a time.  Hope the photos help!

Joined: 10/21/2011
Squirrel Cage Swift

The reason that people are telling you to unwind a skein, not make one is that a tool to make skeins with should be rigid, not adjustable.  A niddy noddy or a four-arm skeiner work well.  A swift, of any design, is made to adjust to fit a skein already made.

paulz's picture
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Joined: 07/13/2011
Yes it works!

As it is a lovely bank (public) holiday here in the uk I thought I'd give my squirrel cage swift a work out. I wrapped some wool around the top and bottom and pretty soon it just started moving around and picking up the yarn. I had to put the ball of wool in a bucket to stop it runninga way all over the patio but soon I had a lovely skein of my chunky wool.

After that I thought I would experiment and as I had two spools of wool on my lazy kate I thought about winding two skeins at a time. It worked brilliantly. All I had to do was keep the top cage spinning and keep my hand between the yarns to make sure there was a gap between them so the skeins didn't tangle. I think I might put a winding handle on to facilitate winding but I now have three skeins of wool ready for washing.

Paul

Chingachgook's picture
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Joined: 06/12/2009
Congrats!

Your squirrel cage may not have been built for that, but with persistence, you convinced it. There's usually more than one (or 2, or 3) way to skin those skeins!

ReedGuy's picture
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Joined: 01/13/2012
I'm wondering if what you are

I'm wondering if what you are calling a squirrel cage swift, is actually a reel like the one I made here from Ed Worst's plans.

I use a swift, which I also made, to wind wool skeins onto pirns and quills. All of my wool projects pass over my swift because I get wool by the skein and not cones or spools.

cottageweaver's picture
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Joined: 06/23/2009
It works!

That's great! And clever of you to do two skeins at once.

Reed Guy - one and the same. It's also called a vertical swift. One blog discussing antique squirrel cage swifts says it's also known as a 'rice'.

ReedGuy's picture
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Joined: 01/13/2012
reel

Ah thanks for clarifying. Reel makes sense to me, if you've ever fished you'd see why. ;)

I've used the reel and the umbrella swift to wind wool warp onto the mill.