Dad’s Woolwinder: The Maiden Voyage

Several years ago, I spotted a woolwinder and a swift on a carpentry website and asked my Dad to make me them. I wasn’t being wholly serious – they looked really hard to make.

I was living in Melbourne at the time. Lo and behold, on Dad’s next trip to see me, out of the suitcase came the swift and the woolwinder. A little assembly was required. The swift came through the journey okay, but a crucial part of the woolwinder had been bent ever-so-slightly. At this point, it was operated with a rubber band belt, which never quite stayed in place. It worked, but it didn’t work well.

More than a year later, I moved back to New Zealand and Dad asked me to bring woolwinder back – well, parts of the woolwinder. Even months later, he still wanted to fiddle with it and work out how to make it work.

I did as I was bid, handed over the parts, and then completely forgot about it (it was a busy year).

A year and a half later, I popped into Dad’s bach on the way north. Out comes a large apple box with…a woolwinder inside! The rubber band had been replaced with cogs.

Now, it’s a few months after that and I finally put it to use:

(I’m so proud of myself for making a video).

The verdict? It’s great!

It squeaks a bit – I added a bit of lithium spray, but it still needs a little more. Dad commented it sounds like I’ve trapped a mouse under there.

It’s a bit of hard work by the end of a 100g skein, but then how much wool winding do I do? Not much. I can handle a bit of hard work.

The tension is perfect. A nice firm cake without the yarn being pulled too tight – and without me having to guide the tension between swift and winder, so I can wind one-handed.


The clogs – I think these were laser cut. Dad said he did them by hand, but I think he was joking.


The swift is relatively easy to take apart – but as it works perfectly in its current set up, it will be staying like this.


The yarn holder is twisted paper clip.


The test yarn – Raincity Knits ‘Fried Egg’ sock yarn.


The finished product!

Now, the eagle-eyed among you will notice the yarn hanging over the bottom of the yarn holder. This, I think, is a result of many stops and starts while winding, rather than a problem with the winder itself. And as the yarn is held in place with a wingnut, it’s easy to remove and fix – no cutting of yarn required!

That’s the tale of the maiden voyage of my Dad-made woolwinder. Massive thanks to my very talented Dad!

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