My Tinkertoys (actually Fiddlestix brand) arrived yesterday, and I lost no time setting up a Japanese-style swift with them:
It’s very simple really, plug four arms into each of two wooden wheels with holes drilled into the side, stick onto a tight-fitting axle, tie each pair of arms together with some yarn, add a skein, and you’re good to go!
I did run into a few problems, the most obvious of which was the wheels sliding on the axle. The blue stuff is painter’s tape that I put on the axle as a temporary fix; when I do the actual thing, I’ll probably use either O-rings from the hardware store or else a more complicated doohickey that I don’t know the name of. (It’s basically a close-fitting metal ring with a set-screw in it; you tighten down the set-screw so the ring doesn’t slide – AVL uses them to hold the treadles on my Workshop Dobby Loom.)
The only other tricky part is that the yarn between the arms must be tied with some tension (light tension is fine) so it doesn’t slide around too easily. (It should slide up and down to adjust the skein, but should hold its location while the skein is unwinding.)
I plan to do two more versions of the swift: one that is made entirely of Tinkertoys (mostly for the cuteness factor), and one that is a bit bigger and more robust. For the latter I will glue in either dowels or metal rods (dowels may bend too much when extended), and use eight arms rather than four. (I would have done eight arms in the original version, but the toy kit didn’t come with enough of the arm-pieces.) I’ll also put it on a stand with a slot in it, rather than improvising with the squirrel cage swift stand.
I tried the squirrel cage swift, by the way, and it didn’t work for the skein I stuck on it. Mostly because it isn’t adjustable enough – I have a version with holes drilled into the sides (you can see it in the photo above) and the skein is actually an intermediate size. The difference is just enough to allow the yarn to drift off the swift, causing tangles and broken threads. I think it could work, though, and I plan to rout out a groove in one section to make it more adjustable, then try again.
Meanwhile, back at the homestead, the zucchini is looking even more ominous. Here is the photo I took earlier this week:
And here is the photo I took four days (four days, folks!) later:
Yes, tremble in terror, world.