DIY Yarn Swift and Ball Winder

Hey friends! I found a bag of discontinued yarn at Goodwill for $4, but it was still skeined and I wanted to wind it before I started to use it. So I called my local yarn store (who had recently featured some of my work on their facebook page) to see if they would let me use their ball winder and swift to cake the skeins. I got a very annoyed “No, we don’t do that” (even for a fee! Needless to say, Apple Yarns in B’ham has lost a customer). Thus began the search for an economical swift and winder… and the cheapest was $60! What a rip off. I could see it if you were short on time or doing it as a side business, but buying secondhand yarn can’t become more expensive than buying it new.

So I decided I’d try to make a swift and winder. I got all of the materials at my local Goodwill for less than $10 and it took me less than 5 mins to set up. You will need:

  • One lazy susan (mine was $3.99)
  • One wine rack or dish rack (the kind that collapses ~ $4.99)
  • A large turkey baster, ring sizer, or even a curling iron top without the cord would work ($0.69)
  • Duct tape

Put your yarn skein around the wine rack. Duct tape the wine rack to the lazy susan while holding it taut against the yarn skein. Make sure the tape is placed in opposite directions, at least 4 pieces, or it will collapse inward. The weight of the rack will keep it from falling over.

Then hold your turkey baster in your left hand and wrap the yarn around with your right, first perpendicular until you’ve got a good two layers of wraps, then at a 45° angle, with the wraps 1/4” apart, slowing twisting the baster with your left hand. I used this tutorial to learn how to use the turkey baster as a nostepinne.

15 minutes later and I had wound my first cake!



Ikea Hack: DIY Microfilm Lamp

Ikea Hack: DIY Microfilm Lamp

I’ve basically been crushing on this Microfilm lamp on Etsy for months now, but couldn’t bring myself to buy something I could mentally reverse-engineer in about 10 seconds. A while back, I came across a very informative interview with the artist on Craftzine.com and decided now it was time to make one. I contacted a seller on Ebay who just happened to have some 1990-era microfilm of the Chicago Tribune, where my very best friend, Heather Billings, (@hbillings) now works. After a few failed attempts to get the woven-dowel look to work, I settled for a basketweave modification of the inspiration lamp. Here are some pictures of the process if you’d like to copy it yourself!



Note: I originally started out with a two-tiered Ikea Textur lamp, but the weight of the film was too much, and the sides started buckling. Even after adding clear plastic reinforcement, I found I had to downgrade to the single-tiered table lamp to keep it from bowing in the middle. If I had gotten doweling with a smaller diameter, it would have worked! Anyways, I thought it would be fun to include the directions, which I also ‘hacked’ from Ikea’s website. Remember to buy dimmer-friendly candelabra base lightbulbs!


Yarnbombing in Bellingham: Knitted R2D2


See the whole album on GooglePlus.

In case you missed it, yesterday was the second annual International Yarn Bombing Day, where knitters, crocheters, and other needlecrafters set out all over the world to decorate a public space. Yarn bombing is a relatively new form of street art, but it’s becoming more common in larger urban areas. One of my favorite yarn bombs is the neon-colored crocheted Wall Street Charging Bull by Agata Olek on Christmas Eve, 2010. Since then, yarn bombing has been featured in articles on Forbes.com, the NYTimes.comReuters, and the Today Show Blog, largely on the part of people like Leanne Praine (@LeannePraine), co-author of the bestselling Yarn Bombing: The Art of Crochet and Knit Graffiti and Hoopla: The Art of Unexpected Embroidery.

I set out in March of this year in the shadow of many talented knitters and crocheters, determined to yarn-bomb a lackluster part of downtown Bellingham, Washington. The pedestrian crosswalks here have concrete structures lining the paths. They’re about hip-height, squatty, and ugly; and I was in the middle of a rant about how boring they where when I realized they were about the same shape as a well-known robot from the popular Star Wars films.

So, on March 16, 2012, I “cast on” my very own knitted R2D2 slipcover. There are plenty of R2D2 hat and toy patterns on Ravelry.com (@ravelry), a great pattern site for knitting and crochet, but nothing was near this scale. (For any who would like to recreate this project, I’m happy to share the makeshift pattern you see on my iPad in the Instagram photos below.) Basically, I had to create a tube 56″ around, 23″ high, and then curve into a dome over about 14″. It was a tricky bit of math, but nothing harder than freshman geometry. I ended up using just about 1200 yards of yarn.

I had it nearly finished on Friday, June 8th, and set it up outside my office, where I work downtown. Some coworkers and friends visited to see if I really had finished it. A few of them even posted photos on their Twitter accounts. I didn’t even realize until the next day that Leanne Praine, the author I mentioned above, had picked up on those tweets and was demanding, “Who made this? Own up, because i want to know who you are and personally acknowledge your awesomeness.”

I had some small tweaks to finish before the actual event on the ninth, so I took R2D2 back home to add the large eye and a drawstring around the bottom to keep it from rolling up along the bottom. Around 10am Saturday morning, I finally made it down to the Bellingham Farmers Market, where I figured there would be enough foot traffic to notice the strangely-adorned concrete pillar.

After I fitted him over one of the structures, I sat at a nearby coffeeshop and shot some photos of passers-by while my husband (@MattRudder) tweeted about the occasion.

I did not expect the incredible support I received from other knitters, crocheters, and even people who likely never heard of yarn bombing before. Somehow, R2D2 made its way back into the feed of Leanne Praine, who tweeted to my husband, “This might be one of my favourite yarn bombs ever! Kudos to your wife!” and told her followers, “Yarn bombers, give @sknep a digital high five for making the knit R2 D2!”

Other Twitter and Instagram users started sharing it, and this morning, my husband showed me aphoto of R2D2 on Reddit. Then it showed up on Neatorama’s Facebook page. I never would have expected such an overwhelmingly positive reaction. Thanks, all of you!


Some of the Reddit readers voiced their concerns about the longevity of a yarnbomb like this. To answer those questions, I actually didn’t leave the yarnbomb on the pylon overnight. I removed R2D2 when I left, and plan to add “legs” and hide speakers in it for next year. Even if I had left it out to weather the elements, R2D2 is made out of an acrylic yarn that wouldn’t bleed, fade, or stretch for quite some time. It just happens to be graduation weekend and this is a college town, and I have grown attached enough to this project to not want it’s ‘lifespan’ cut short unnecessarily.