Ask and you shall receive

One of the things I’m trying to do at the moment is to avoid buying new things if I can get something secondhand. The idea is that this will reduce my drain on the earth’s resources, help decrease the amount of stuff going to landfill and satisfy my needs.

So, the other day I stopped myself taking the easy option (when you have enough money) and simply ordering a wool winder and a swift from Loop’s knitting shop. Recent purchases of yarn have regularly been in the form of hanks and draping them around chair-legs and winding by hand is a bit of a pain – and very slow. Owning these two items makes the process much easier and quicker.

This is my swift

This is my swift

However, I reminded myself that I do have a swift, albeit a broken one. It’s actually an object that I have great sentimental attachment to because it was given to me by a very dear lady who taught me embroidery. She was quite a hoarder, but often passed on fabric, embroidery silk and other sewing-related things to me and my mum (I have a collection of beautiful mother of pearl buttons from her). She gave me the swift about 30 years ago and I know it was old then, so it must be an antique. Sadly she passed away a few years ago, but the swift remains with me.

The broken 'arm'

The broken ‘arm’

Currently it’s held together with tape, but I plan to mend it with glue and fine twine, which I am hoping will give it many more years of (gentle) use. With all that trellis contraption, it’s no wonder that it’s got damaged. I’m pretty sure that it’s at least 60 years old and may be significantly older. It may even have been made by the husband of the lady who gave it to me as he was very good at woodwork. I’d be interested to know if anyone has seen one like it before. Anyway, whatever its history, it’s going to be put back into service soon.

A yarn winder

A yarn winder

So, the swift was already in my possession, what about a ball winder? My mum used to have one, but it ended up in a charity shop, I think. I, therefore, used the power of social networking and appealed to my friends on Facebook to see if anyone had one they didn’t want. In the spirit of bartering, I offered a pair of hand knitted socks or crochet slippers in exchange. And within a couple of hours I had one person who thought her mum had one, one offer to order a secondhand one from e-bay in the US (only new ones on UK e-bay at the time) and one person who thought they had one and would look. After a brief pause, my friend Susan came up trumps – she had one in her loft and delivered it on Thursday (she only lives two miles away). In exchange she accepted a cup of tea and a homemade muffin… I even offered money but she wouldn’t take any.

My next job, therefore, is some repair work on the swift, and then I will be able to convert hanks (skeins) into balls as much as I like. Hurrah for reuse and repair!

Nearly ready to use!

Nearly ready to use!

Oh, and if a second winder does become available, another friend would also like one, so I can rehome that too!

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29 Comments

  1. Yes, indeed . . . hurrah for reuse and repair! My motto!

    Virtual hugs,

    Judie

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  2. The important thing is TO BE happy! ;-> It’s good for the digestion!!!

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  3. Ann Owen

     /  May 10, 2014

    Would love to see a quick video on your blog of these two tools in action. Any chance?

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  4. Well done you for your great bargain, Jan! πŸ™‚

    I’ve been looking for a second-hand wool winder for some time now but, like you, all I could find would have to come from either the USA, or Hong Kong, and I would hate to add those sort of carbon footprints just to get a bargain 😦

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  5. If you have tinkertoys or something similar, someone has a tutorial on how to craft one together.
    http://superfunknits.com/tutorials/swift.html

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  6. Time to put an ad on Freecycle for Knex now so you can make one and always have spare parts. I reckon you’ll get plenty of wool on there too to keep you going a while.
    xxx Huge Hugs Jan xxx

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  7. I’m a long way off needing such fabulous devices, but I can see a day when I’ll want them… Trouble is, I don’t think there are many of them out here that I could acquire either by cash or barter, so I’ll probably have to resort to the tinkertoy tutorial (isn’t that beautifully alliterative?).

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    • Ah yes… I love the build-your-own option… but I love my antique even more!

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      • I can see why. The patina of age and use on wood is always more attractive than the gleam of new plastic! Not to mention the fact that you know it works and aren’t investing in a potentially rubbish new one.

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  8. Second, or third, or fourth-hand is definitely the way to go. I love this post. Your first paragraph sums it all up beautifully for me. xoxoxoxoxoxoxox

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  9. Oh, please, let us have an update on the swift when you’ve made it all better!

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  10. Hi from another corner of West Wales πŸ™‚ I recently stumbled upon your blog and I love the swift! I was lucky enough to be given a wool winder years ago, but I was lacking a swift. In the spirit of reuse, I fashioned one based on an idea found on the web – it is a lazy susan I was given for Christmas one year (one of those turntable things that you can put on the table with cheese on etc) with two lengths of stiff wire bent into U shapes taped on with gaffer tape at right angles to each other to hold the hank. Mark one works but is rather rickety. I am inspired to give it another go!

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    • When I was given the swift I had never seen one before, but it is a fantastic piece of kit. I’ve just dug out some hemp twine and pva glue, so mine should be mended today (no gardening by the look of the weather).
      So pleased to see you here – perhaps we’ll meet face-to-face at Denmark Farm one day… we could do with running a scything course there!

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  11. Well done! It’s so satisfying to locate what you want by reuse and repair rather than just ordering new with one click!

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  12. Huzzah! One of the frustrations of Peru is that there are no op-shops or 2nd hand markets or swap meets (though I have heard about a youth collective who are trying to start a barter & swap market, so there’s hope!).

    When my kettle died last year, 2 months before departure, I tried to borrow or buy one 2nd hand, but I only lasted 2 days without being able to make a quick cuppa (boiling water on my crappy stove took 15 mins) before I caved and bought a new one. =o(

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    • Fingers crossed for the success of the barter and swap market. I’m certain that swapping and passing on unwanted goods is viable, but we need a different mindset, and better networks. At least we have some opportunities in the UK.

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  13. As we develop more community, we are able to share the love (and the stuff!) around. I love sharing, swapping and bartering because it takes money out of the equation and instills an amazing sense of happiness when one man’s trash is indeed, your treasure. Still hunting for that elusive hand turned grain mill but one day I am going to find it :).

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