Last month, I visited Hancock Shaker Village, a living museum in western Massachusetts, portraying the daily happenings of a Shaker community. As a yarncrafter, it was particularly interesting because the Shakers valued crafts and had a strong affinity for the world of yarns–from raising sheep (I saw newborn baby lambs!) to spinning their own yarn, knitting, crocheting, and weaving. At the museum I got to see a demonstration of how linen yarn is made, as well as seeing many historical and reproduction yarncrafting tools.
One of the tools they had on display was a table swift, which the Shakers produced in great numbers in the 1800s. If you’ve never used a table swift (also called an umbrella swift), it may look like a strange contraption, but what it allows you to do is to hold a hank (one of those long, loose circles of yarn) open while you turn it into a ball, either by hand or with a ball winder. Some yarns that come in hanks include our LB Collection Organic Wool and LB Collection Pure Wool, but hanks are also how you dye yarns, so if you’ve been thinking about dyeing your own yarns, a swift can be an important tool for turning those hanks into beautiful yarn balls or yarn cakes!
Here are a few tips for using a yarn swift: