Most helpful critical review
36 of 40 people found the following review helpful
It's inexpensive--that's good and bad!
on December 2, 2011
I got this swift so that I could wind hanks into balls and also to unwind balls of yarn into hanks for dyeing. It was one of the most inexpensive swifts I'd heard of at the time, and ChiaoGoo has an excellent reputation, so I bought it! (The price has jumped up to double what it was, so if the swift itself is the same, I absolutely cannot recommend this swift anymore. You can do better at this price.)
It's a fine economy swift, but it does have a few shortcomings:
It only easily holds skeins up to 62" around. I did know this ahead of time, but I thought it would only be an issue for people who wound their own yarn into giant hanks. I didn't realize that a lot of popular yarns come in skeins that are bigger than that. Pretty disappointing.
The dowels in the kit are slightly bigger than the (slightly raggedy) holes for the dowels, so they require brute force to put together, and the swift can't spin easily because the fit is so tight. The balls of yarn I've wound with it are very tight (that's bad) because the swift pulls so hard on the yarn. I rubbed a candle on all of the friction points, and that did help, but not enough! I'm going to put a stack of washers on the center dowel under the cross-arms. If I can find the right part, I am going to replace the center dowel with a metal bar. The handmade swifts I've seen use that design. It seems more durable, and slicker.
(HACKING UPDATE: The swift is designed with approximately 9mm dowels and holes. That is about 23/64". Good luck finding ready-made spare parts! I gave up. I sanded the center dowel and put two nylon washers on it, under the arms and on top of the base. It spins fine now but it's still too small.)
There are other swifts that are larger and better-made for about the same price, but I only found out about them after I bought this one. So with that knowledge, I wouldn't buy this one again if I could do it over. But it does the job, sets up easily and collapses into almost nothing for storage, so I'm mostly happy anyway.
The swift has loosened up and the crossbars don't fit tightly together anymore. I think this is from pushing the swift around to make skeins, but I'm not sure. Sad. I really haven't used it all that much. Also one of the dowels won't stay in properly, and as I mentioned, they're hard to replace.
LAST UPDATE (I HOPE):
I moved, and lost parts of the swift. I lost one dowel and one of my nylon washers. I got new washers and a new 4' dowel a little bigger in diameter than the swift holes. I cut it into five 9" pieces (one of them broke while I was sawing), and sanded the ends, then sanded the sides on one end of each, so it would fit into the holes on the swift. It took a really long time. (Use brand-name sandpaper--the sand just brushes off of the cheap stuff.) It might be better to buy a smaller dowel and wrap the ends in something to bulk them up to the right size. Anyway, having much taller dowels means that the yarn doesn't have to go on as precisely, which is good if you're winding yarn onto or off of something higher up than the swift. I have had to unwind a lot of yarn because the swift and winder weren't level, and the yarn just skipped right over the top of the dowels.