Right Down To Business

What’s Luis Hanging today?

You know who’s a good boy? Luis is a good boy, because despite asking (again) if he could hang Santa, and being told (again) that it’s not time for Santa, Luis went ahead and picked something else, and I can hardly believe it.  Lou is apparently nothing like my kids at that age.  Lou’s seen Santa around town several times, he’s even visited and spoken with the guy, he understands that when you hang Santa, it’s Christmas, and still, upon being denied this several times, he apparently hasn’t shredded the entire advent tree while throwing himself on the floor in a temper tantrum that made the kid in the Exorcist look restrained.

elarbol 2014-12-14

Instead, the gentleman picked the Christmas Tree. (That’s Arbol de Navidad, for those of us giving the Spanish a shot.)  This one was a pattern I figured myself, although this one looks to be pretty similar.  I didn’t want to sew two sides together though, so I worked mine in the round.  I cast on enough to make the tree as wide as I wanted at the bottom (x2) and joined to work in the round.  Round and round I went, decreasing 4 stitches (k2tog and ssk at the sides) every third round.  When I was done, I stuffed it with a little wool, added the wee trunk, and sewed on the little gold beads to be ornaments. Simple, sweet, and a little sparkly.

Gifts for Knitters, Day 14

This one is simple and straightforward.  Your knitter needs good tools to work with.  If they were a carpenter who spent as much time building things as your knitter spends making things, you wouldn’t expect them to have a crappy saw, right?  If your knitter was a cook that spent this much time cooking, you’d think they’d have some pretty slick tools in the kitchen, right? Absolutely.  Take a look around your house and see if your knitter has these tools, and choose what seems right for your budget and their level of engagement – but remember, these are tools your craftsperson will use not toys for their amusement.

Swift:  A swift is a tool that holds a skein of yarn so that the knitter can turn it into a ball that they can knit from.  There’s  several kinds, like this one – it’s great for the knitter who has no swift, this sturdier wooden one, and this (I have one of these and love it so, so, so much) Hornshaw Woodworks one.

Ball Winder. The swift spins, and the yarn is connected to the winder.  Ball winders are pretty freakin’ handy – even if you’re knitter doesn’t use yarn that comes in a skein.  You can wind half of a ball off of an existing ball to make two things of equal size, you can rewind a commercial ball that’s gotten sloppy – Your knitter needs one.  If you don’t see one around the house (and your knitter hasn’t expressed a profound love for winding balls of yarn by hand *) get one of these.  This blue and white one is ubiquitous, it’s a good winder, but has a lifespan, then the gears start to go, it makes skipping noises and starts making breasts rather than balls.  It’s a great, great place to start though. This one from Nancy’s Knit Knacks looks like a workhorse, and the Strauch winder is a joy to behold.

* About that knitter who loves to wind balls by hand? Think about getting them a beautiful Nostepinne.  There’s basic ones here, but you can find a million beautiful handcrafted ones.

39 thoughts on “Right Down To Business

  1. Pingback: Right Down To Business | Yarn Buyer

  2. I’ve had one of the blue and white winder and swift sets since I think 2000, and it’s still going strong. So they can be durable.

  3. If I promise not to throw a fit or otherwise behave badly, would (could) you make me a Christmas countdown calendar? I love Luis’…..I admit it…..I’m jealous ;(
    If you will excuse me I think I’ll go have a pout and try to figure out how to knit fingerless gloves for a 4 year old.

    • Easy-peasy — knit a k1p1 tube that will fit cozily around her hand, binding off a few stitches where you want the thumb to protrude and casting them back on on the following round.
      Easier yet — knit a ribbed piece flat and seam it, leaving a thumb hole.
      As for how big to make it, can you get a tracing of her hand with fingers together and thumb sticking out?

  4. I have enjoyed following Lou’s adventures as he hangs his lovely decorations. Imagine his joy when he is allowed to hang the Santa at last! Thanks for sharing the journey and for the patterns and ideas. I have been following along on and posting my reults on instagram. It has been fun. I think I will help myself to you tree pattern:)
    I do not have 25 yet-that may be a multi yeared process.

  5. I am totally enchanted by Luis and his daily ornament choice for his advent tree. I always look forward to reading your blog, but Luis’ tree adventure makes me more impatient than ever for your posts.

  6. I purchased my Amish-style swift through Amazon.com for about $40 and have been very happy with it these last 3 years. I like the fact that it is easy to break down and put away when I’m neatening the living room before company comes. Love seeing what Luis picks each day! And, I’m enjoying the daily gift suggestions. Thank you!

  7. Luis is adorbs, to use my preteen’s slang term. 🙂 And as someone who uses medical Spanish at work all day four days a week, I’m enjoying learning some new (non-medical) vocab from him. 🙂

  8. Just wanted to say “Thanks” for linking to our nostepinnes. Loads of people are discovering them through your comments, which is great for them, and us! 🙂

  9. Young Luis is a hoot, and so well-behaved for his age; toddlers don’t do frustration well as a rule.

    I have a vintage ball winder that’s heavier-duty than the ubiquitous blue/white one, but it will die some day. I just found this website/Etsy shop (http://tinyurl.com/mz47vlv), whose work intrigues me; I wonder if anyone has experience with these sturdier winders.

    Thanks, Stephanie, for all you do for the knitting community.

  10. I have both the Hornshaw swift and the Nancy’s Knit Knacks ball winder, and they both ROCK MY SOCKS. I live in a 900ft2 condo, and they both fold up nicely and are beautiful, solid tools.

    (I bought them myself 🙂 I toss my change into a cookie tin, and the day after my birthday roll my change and buy myself something that I didn’t get for my birthday.)

    • I, too, bought myself one of the beautiful Hornshaw Swifts, either for a birthday or Christmas gift, I can’t remember which, and it was because I’d read about it in a previous Yarn Harlot post. What a treat and what a pleasure to use!

  11. Like Julia Cochrane above, I’ve had a blue and white ball winder for years with no issue except having to screw it down real tight. The ones you link to are super expensive, and frankly, I’d rather spend the money on yarn and patterns.

  12. I got my Nancy’s Heavy Duty Ball Winder on Friday. Haven’t had a chance to try it out yet as I went into the hospital that night with a virus that made me pass out (actually that was due to low bp). All is good now, I am home full of meds and about to get a good night’s sleep so I can spend the day winding all my hanks so I can buy more hanks to wind 🙂

  13. I love that you think outside the box Steph. Using a Christmas Tree as a swift – brilliant! (Either that, or the elves have tinkered with your link to the ‘basic’ swift.)

  14. Another gift idea for us knitters: Lion Brand’s newsletter recently advertised its artisan gift wrapping paper with knitting & crochet graphics, very pretty, very colourful.

  15. I don’t know that I have the patience to knit wee ornaments for an advent calendar, so I am impressed with each ornament as Luis picks them. Thanks for sharing the fun. (I might be able to cross stitch them, into little pillows, though. Hmmmmm.) Two a month, starting…. now?

  16. HI Steph… I’m totally bragging when I tell you that I bought a Strauch Ball Winder for $7 (yes, seven!) at Value Village a couple of years ago. I saw it, gasped in a way that scared the other shoppers, and raced to the cash before someone came to their senses and charged more. I can attest to the fact that it is simply wonderful.

  17. Stephanie, the first link of gifts (ball winder for knitter who doesn’t have a swift) takes one to the Christmas tree pattern.

    Thanks for sharing Luis’ adventures with us. He is such a cutie.

  18. As a corollary to today’s recommended gifts: if the non-knitter shopping for the knitter happens to BE a woodworker, that is a pairing made in heaven! Swifts in the same style of the Hornshaw swift are fairly easy to make for the home woodworker. Lots of free plans on the internet, and typically doesn’t require much more than a saw. My dad made me a lovely wooden swift 10 years ago, and it makes me smile and think of him every time I use it!

  19. I have an umbrella-style swift that is similar to the one you linked to at yarn.com. I can’t recommend it because it has wooden screws and they don’t hold (again, on mine – not necessarily the one you linked to) and I end up pushing a chair against my swift to hold it on the table and finding some object of the correct height to hold the swift open while I wind. I’ve tried a few things to make the screws hold, but no luck so far.

  20. You can always motivate a non-knitter who lives with a knitter to seriously consider the swift by pointing out that then THEY will no longer have to stand there with the skein around their hands while their knitter winds a ball…this can be pretty enticing, esp if said knitter loves laceweight with lots of yardage! =)

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