Hands down, my favorite tool is my umbrella swift. I have it shown below alongside my other favorite: a ball winder. They work together like PB and J.
I took some skeins of hand spun compound yarn out of my stash and quickly discovered that the sequins were too obnoxiously huge to fit through the ball winder. And then I thought that was probably okay because I am here to talk about the swift.
It's called an umbrella swift because of the way it opens. All those sticks are tied together with string, so they are flexible and open out accordion style. This means that it will fit a lot of different sized skeins. I have had a few skeins that were too big, but not for the most part.
As a spinner/knitter/crocheter/weaver/ninja* I am constantly falling in love with fancy hand dyed or specialty yarns that almost always come by the skein; I find this tool to be indispensable. Before my swift I shuddered at all the skeins of daisy size 20 and 30 crochet thread my hubby brought home from the thrift store, when I should have been doing the boogie-woogie dance. Now I am unwinding those bad boys like a yarn balling speed demon from the planet Yarnopia.**
You don't need a yarn "cake" balling tool to help, you can simply ball up the yarn loosely by hand. A trick is to wind the yarn over your thumb and pointer as you make the ball, to prevent the ball from becoming too tight. this is especially important for fluffy, soft yarns that once stretched will loose all their oomph. I learned this nifty trick from some super awesome gals at a local "crafternoon" last summer.
I have been trying to think of a tool that I didn't find handy, and I can't! I might have been lucky, so far, that I haven't picked up a dud. One of my other favorite tools is called a fringe twister.
Do you have a favorite tool, or do you have trouble picking just one like me?
*I'm not really a ninja. Occasionally I'm stealthy. Mostly I am a clutz.
* Yarnopia is a soft, squishy, peaceful planet located somewhere in the galaxy of Fibertron.
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