Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Google-eyed knitting

A few days ago I spotted an irresistible-to-me pattern for googly-eyed chicks and went almost directly to Cheezombie to buy one (almost directly, because I had to convince myself I could spare a few hours from the Big Project.)

The pattern requirements refer to cotton leftovers, of which I have none, so I bought this:

and this:

and then yesterday I cast on. I knit the essentials of one in about two hours, and then I ripped it out and knit it again with smaller needles because the stuffing showed through. This time I got all the way to the beak in just under another two hours. Familiarity: it breeds speed.

Knitting cotton at a tight gauge on small needles with the throwing method, however, breeds a hurty index finger. I had to stop there for a while, with images of bright yellow yarn in a fluffy wool/angora blend dancing in front of my eyes. Why oh why did I not buy yellow wool for this project?

(answer: because there wasn't any in the store I was in when I bought the cotton.)

I bonded with this design over the googly eyes, but my gauge is so relaxed I couldn't get mine small enough not to look creepy and weird, so I'm opting for embroidered eyes instead. It's still a very, very cute chick! And potentially more so with legs, when my finger stops hurting.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Knitting in public

Sunday, I had brunch with friends who don't knit, so when I pulled out my knitting pouch to show them my yoga-sock-in-progress the big reaction was for the pouch.

In fact I was still looking at the pouch as I pulled it from my purse when I heard a mysterious fourth voice saying What a fabulous bag! and realized our waitress had stopped by our table.

After everybody gasped at the matching lining, I had to pass it around so everybody (our very nice waitress included) could admire the way Japanese linen feels over squishy yarn.

Making a mental note to remember this appreciation of tiny happy bags next time those friends have birthdays, I showed off my yoga sock, but the moment had passed - only one piped up that she would totally use a pair for pilates and that her daughter would also love a pair (done and done.)

Now, if I'd had the Big Project with me, it would have been an entirely different story. I have to knit some of that almost everywhere I go to make my deadline, and it's the sort of thing that attracts many a comment from passers-by. Usually, "That is so beautiful!" is followed by, "It looks so complicated!"

Just once I'd like to say "Yes, it is - I can only do it because I am an exceptional person and a particularly talented knitter!"

... but you know, I always opt for the truth instead. It looks complicated, and it's not. Yesterday a woman approached me in a coffee shop for a closer look and said, I bet you can't watch TV when you're knitting that, and I had to admit that that's exactly what I do do. Every day.

Just wait - when Kathi's book comes out, you'll see what I mean. She is the queen of minimum effort, maximum impact.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Fair Isle progress report

Last week was filled with health crises and hospital knitting, so I didn't get a lot of Fair Isling done until things settled down over the weekend...

... when learned that 16" circular needles. so beneficial for sleeve knitting, aren't friendly to knitters with a tendency toward carpal tunnel. Fortunately I have a very good wrist brace and I can start moving back and forth now between the circular needle sleeve and the 10" Brittany Birch double pointed needle sleeve, so that shouldn't slow me down much.

Speaking of two sleeves at once, an overnight away made for some urgency in the packing-up department for all these project bits. When I started this sweater I could carry it in one little pouchlet, and look at it now:

The progress isn't as dramatic as last time, but I'm close enough to the end now to be grateful for what I have.

I'm finally at the point where the body section keeps my legs warm as I knit - and boy is that nice on a chilly evening.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Project complete, delivery thwarted

I have so looked forward to seeing a friend for cafe au lait and chocolate croissants and general chat, and in spite of the minefield that this week has been, I did end up being available but -

in the ten minutes it looked like I wasn't, I sent my apologies, and now I can't reach her to see if she can still make it too.

Well, at least I got her present ready...

I loved this yarn - Soyeuse from Biscotte & Cie - and especially these tones, which were custom-dyed for last year's sock club. I hope my friend feels the same, when she finally gets to use them!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Mittens from Nana

I guess it was around the time I started knitting again after The Long Hiatus that my mum gave me these mittens, which had been knitted for me decades ago by her mum:

Nana died when I was three, which makes me the youngest of the grandchildren she met in her lifetime. One of my cousins, on learning that I have these mitts, was really excited to see them because she remembers Nana very well. I myself only have one memory of her. She had given me a new book and we were sitting on the sofa together as she read it to me, and because the book was given away when I got too old for it - my mum must have forgotten where it came from - these mittens are pretty important to me.

Having said that...

Okay, I don't use these as mittens obviously, but they are regularly employed for presenting little notes or gifts, so I do look at them, and this week I looked at them closely.

See that funny bump running down from the thumb? Come to that - see the funny base of the thumb?

I thought it was a design feature on the slightly awkward thumb setup until I looked closer and yes, it's true: Nana ran in the tail on the outside of the mitten. And that explains the funny loose bit midway down the side of the other mitt: she did the same with the tie off at the top of the fingers.

My mum tells me Nana took up knitting late in life, and that it was Nana Keenan who was the really skilled knitter (in the early 1950s, she knit herself a two-piece dress in dove grey yarn). Am I the only one to find this extra charming? That it probably gave her a lot of trouble to do it, but Nana knit mitts for me?

There's one other thing I notice about these mittens: they're worked to a pretty tight gauge, and when I look at the stitches all hugged up against each other... well, I just feel like I can see the love. Thank you, Nana.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Hospital knitting: test questions

When a loved one is ill, especially for reasons nobody can figure out, it's natural for a knitter to reach for needles and yarn that each feel nice, and a mindless (or complex, depending on temperament and level of panic) pattern to work on.

But when that illness shifts to a hospital setting, further consideration is required.

A simple pattern is good in this case - or one that can be easily memorized for many rows. You do not want to be folding and unfolding paper while somebody is trying to sleep, or referring to said paper while trying to retain what the nurse or doctor is saying.

Also: will there be bus and/or subway activity en route the hospital? It takes longer, but one can knit away some stress which is not true while driving oneself in a car. Taxis are a hybrid solution ideal for those not oddly averse to riding in them and not more likely to be carsick than trainsick.

And: will this be gift knitting or personal? A knit for the patient, or for somebody else totally unassociated with him or her?

Test Question One

Knitter M is making a yoga sock for a friend unaware of and unaffected by the hospital scenario. While on the subway, and in spite of using a ridiculously simple pattern with just 35 stitches per row, she discovers an error six rows previous that doesn't really show unless you look for it but may affect the similarity in length of the companion sock. Does she:

a/ Keep knitting and ignore the error, then hope she remembers to exactly duplicate said error on sock #2; or

b/ Keep knitting regardless of duplication and tell her friend that the mistake symbolizes the depth of their friendship, in that knitting was completed for her during a Stressful Time because it was a comfort to think of her, and the error captures that sentiment; or

c/ Rip back, recognizing that this is a seriously lame argument, besides which the knitting itself is comforting and should be prolonged anyway?

If c/, should the frogging take place on the subway in a suddenly vacated seat or at the hospital, either when the patient is napping or, if that doesn't happen soon enough, when the patient is sipping water and can't object?

If on the subway, how critical is it for Knitter M to know her subway stop durations?

(hint: critical.)

Fun Fact: you can rip out six 35-stitch rows and get them back onto dpns while passing through just five downtown subway stops.

Test Question Two

Knitter M must walk several blocks before getting on a bus plus one more block after getting off the subway and it's going to rain heavily all day. Does she:

a/ expend equal effort deciding between shoes, leather boots, or rainboots to wear in the hospital room and deciding between knitting bags based on their waterproofiness?

b/ ignore the shoe issue entirely and spend 20 minutes hauling out every possible bag for comparison purposes even though the hospital knitting fits in a very small pouch and could probably go into a raincoat pocket?

c/ zone in on midrange waterproofy boots, then congratulate herself on impulse-purchasing a $120-on-sale messenger-style bag with no velcro that looks like leather but is actually recycled plastic bottles, and spend the bonus time knitting something too complicated for the hospital?

Fun Fact: messenger bags with velcro closures are guaranteed to lead to woolly snags no matter how waterproof or lightweight they might be. Unless there's nothing else that offers the necessary space, don't go there.

Test Question Three

Casting off post-hospital visit: on transit, or at home?

(a gimme: at home after comfort food; if impossible, cut a really long tail as insurance for a white-knuckle tension level.)

Test Question Four

The news is good, the end of the hospital stay and now-explained illness in sight. Does Knitter M

a/ set aside the second yoga sock until the next crisis; or

b/ finish it and knit two more pairs because they're so fast and easy and perfect for the Christmas pile?

Set down your pencils when the test is completed, and knit to indicate it may now be collected for marking.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Why thinking is a good thing

I think of lots of projects and uses for yarn that never seem to happen, but over the weekend I realized why it is good to indulge in those pipe dreams:

If you ever are ready to go, the groundwork is already done.

Yep, I was thinking about knitting birthday yoga socks for a friend way back in the summer when I made a pair for Carol. And when I bought my first kitchen scale (for yarn measurement, of course) I thought of them again and even figured out what stashed yarn would do. Ever since, I've been thinking about which colour she'd like.

And over the weekend, when I realized I'm seeing that friend this week and still haven't started her present and there is a big project I'm supposed to finish first before I do anything else -

all I had to do was print out another copy of the pattern and pick up the needles. Huzzah!

Monday, March 22, 2010


A couple of weekends ago I was passing through Jordan Village (a charming Ontario community set snugly in wine country and chock full of heritage B and Bs and fabulous restaurants, in case you're looking for a holiday destination).

Being in need of sleeve-sized needles for the Big Project, of course I had to stop at Stitch. Stitch is my favourite LYS - you can feel real life dropping away from your shoulders as you walk in and creative ideas reaching out to greet you.

This time I didn't even get all way inside before I noticed Jocelyn's cardigan - exactly the raglan-sleeved, not-clingy, soft-wooly cardigan I've been hunting for, for about a year.

Did she have the pattern? She did.

Did I want to try hers on? I did. (perfect fit, dream design.)

And the yarn? In stock.

Done and done and destined to be commenced...

as soon as the Big Project is finished and blocked.

I do love carrots, don't you?

p.s. I also love this pattern... same yarn, same yardage, but I think best in the colour pictured here...

Friday, March 19, 2010

Fair Isle - lessons learned

I've done Fair Isle knitting before, but nothing like the Big Project. The Big Project is - big! and as of about five days ago, too heavy to knit while walking around. I haven't knit anything I couldn't walk around with for.... over a year, anyway.

I do like how fun the colour pattern is to stitch, though. A lot of work has gone into this sweater to ensure that you never have to carry the yarn too far, and - this is my favourite part - to give you maximum colour impact with minimum tails to work in at the end. I can't wait to get my hands on the finished book.

Other stuff I learned this week:

It's a good idea to keep upcoming stitches bunched up just enough that you don't have to keep pushing the tip of one of your needles, especially if you are speed knitting for many hours with super pointy needles. Owie. I lost a couple of days to that small injury.

That said: if you're speed knitting, stupendously fast needles are a must. I bought Addi Lace tips for this project and haven't regretted it, injury aside. Because of the injury, I'm looking forward to getting the sleeves into the regular Addi Turbos I bought to work them.

Stitch markers are your best friend with Fair Isle. Stitch markers have always been, for me, a tool to mark the beginning of a round. I didn't understand why they come in sets of 8 or so until I got a few rows into this pattern and realized I would need markers between each pattern repeat if I was going to get every one of them right.

I have been getting my stitch markers at Etsy, from Pennywenny, and I love - nay, LOVE - them. They are bright enough to be visible, they never get caught in either my stitches or my needle tips, they slip happily along the rows when in use and tuck snugly into a small snap-lid box when not, and they are so pretty. I give mental thanks to my friend Sharon every day for telling me about them.

Colour coding with stitch markers while speed knitting: pure luxury. Slip the first half on in one colour, so that as you pass you know you're on the first part of the round. Then switch to a transition colour (in this case dark blue) and after that, a third colour that carries through to the end (in this case, light blue.) Or you could do the transition colour at the end, like the ink at the end of of a cash register tape. You'll know where you are in the row as you race along, and whether you could stop now for a chocolate break or wait another repeat or two.

Steek alerts with stitch markers: use beads of a different shape and colour entirely to mark those off, so you can see them coming and watch them go. I am using cube markers from Pennywenny for those.

Thanks to figuring all of this out and also because it turns out I am able to knit from a chart in a moving car without getting quite too dizzy to work, I have made a lot of progress since last week:

It's almost enough to make me think I could be done by the end of the month.

What do you think?

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Sunpatch knitting

I'm sort of on vacation this week but not from knitting Big Project Small Needles. I'll do a proper update tomorrow; for now, let's just say we've moved into the big bag.

I love this bag and I can't even begin to count the ways, though I might mention the soft flannel-y wool exterior and dreamy soft cotton interior and the teddy bear squish effect that results from good wool being inside (as long as you don't stab yourself with the needles and so far I haven't.) And also, the way you look quite stylish while secretly hugging said teddy bearishness.

Melissa makes versions of this bag all the time for her shop but she'll do them to order, too. And she just started a new line of tiny gathered treasure purses that match this style, sized perfectly for one's stitch markers and tape measure and other bits and bobs (and yes, I was lucky enough to snag one today in matching grey linen, huzzah!)

The other thing I popped in to say is that my goodness, I haven't seen weather this warm this early in March since some freak weather in Vancouver the year I went out there with a high school band exchange - that is to say, when I was in high school - and since I'm on vacation I'm not going to calculate how many years ago that is.

(maybe 30. not quite 30. but close to 30. ack.)

So I spent some time today sitting in a nice chair knitting in a sun patch. Do Wednesdays get any better than this?

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

A non-mystery knitalong

A bunch of us over at Knitting and Tea and Cookies have decided to motivate each other to knit a Baby Surprise Jacket - care to join our knitalong?

This is one of those Elizabeth Zimmermann patterns that, apparently, everybody makes at some point. My excuse: people I know keep having babies and I keep not having gifts put by for them. Something about babies always makes me want to knit something, too, and by the time the gift is done the child has outgrown it, as I have learned to my cost. If I knit up a few BSJs though, it won't matter if they fit now or later, and I can mix up the colours to be fairly gender non-specific.

Of course, around the same time that I realized I could knit baby presents in advance and with no particular baby in mind, I chatted with a friend who has been knitting hats for a Canadian adoption agency that works with orphanages in Russia and Bulgaria. Most of the children are under three, right down to newborn, and they greatly need warm things. Warm handknit colourful things are especially appreciated.

So now I'm thinking my knitalong project will head out to one of those children in the luggage of a Canadian family en route to picking up their child. And I expect to be throwing a few hats and scarves into my travel knitting agenda as well. If you're interested in doing something similar, e-mail me and I'll give you the contact information.

Wherever your jacket may go, you're more than welcome to knit along with us, and you can do it without joining Knitting and Tea and Cookies or even telling me; I'll be posting about it here as it goes along, and that may be all the company you need.

Start Date: May 1st

Pattern: you can buy it for $3 here, or buy the book, The Opinionated Knitter.

Yarn: apparently there's not much left over in your stash that won't work. So go wild!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Lichen kerchief and bracelet - a free pattern

Last summer I came across a book at the library called Knitting Nature, a fascinating collection of knitting patterns that reflect patterns found in - well, nature. I was intrigued by Norah Gaughan's thoughts on this subject and immediately put a hold on a book that inspired her designs, The Self-Made Tapestry.

This second book is pure science, and I found it extremely difficult to understand (except for one night when I read it over ice cream and grasped every concept effortlessly, which adds more evidence to my theory that ice cream fixes everything.)

Those books are probably what made me think of lichen when I saw some yarn in exactly the shade that grows in my neck of the woods, but the fact that it was summer made me think of breezy kerchiefs and tennis.

I looked at some very appealing pictures of lichen and swatched a lot before deciding that you just can't reproduce its exact appearance in knit stitches if you are me in the summer of 2009. But you can capture two essential points:

the symmetry and, at the same time, asymmetry in so many of the world's patterns and

the way living things are all reaching out, all the time - reaching to take what we need to live, perhaps unaware that in achieving that we can be giving, too.

Download .pdf of Lichen

Friday, March 12, 2010

Mystery knitalong - the fourth clue

If you've been keeping up with the clues it will be obvious to you with this last one that you have a summer accessory set - but more on that next week.

Meanwhile, click here for the fourth clue, and have fun!

There's one correction to the text version of the instructions:

Row 30 should read: Sl1, P1,sl1, P2, sl1, P4, sl1

(it's currently K stitches instead of P ones.)

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Big Project update

I had to get off the Fair Isle wagon over the weekend, and this week I've had to go to a few of the sorts of meetings where people frown on other people pulling out charted knitting, so I'm not as far along with Big Project, Small Needles as I hoped I'd be.

However, in spite of all that plus a two-hour power outage that had me knitting while perched near a windowsill yesterday afternoon, I did make progress:

I must say that for such a complicated looking sweater, it's a peach to knit, which is typical of Kathleen's design work.

In fact I would go so far as to say it's relaxing. Proof: at one point during the power outage I had to knit while reclining on a bed under what was then the brightest window in the house, and I actually fell asleep for a bit.

Which isn't to say it's boring. Or slow, come to that. I'd forgotten, or maybe not noticed before, how much faster it is to knit elaborate colourwork than a solid, with or without cables.

With cables, you have to flip and adjust and fuss, but with colour you just raise and lower your index finger to pick up the different strands. And you're not watching a pot boil either, looping through the rows and waiting for the steam to hit another inch. You're thinking only of drawing the picture row by row, absorbed by one layer until you're ready for the next, and the inches pass without much notice at all.

Unless you're knitting to a deadline. And since I am: 6.5" from the bottom on the main section. Plus, this morning, going to the sort of meeting where I can knit, chart or no chart. Go me!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

We like Shirley Paden

Another thing I will not be doing until I'm finished my sweater for Kathleen's book:

poring over Shirley Paden's helpful Knitwear Design Workshop, new from Interweave Press.

Well, maybe just a little. I mean, come on - look at this page!

Yes, the pattern for this sweater is in there, along with the one from the cover, and did you notice the spiral binding so it sits flat while you pore?

This book has everything you need to know about making the perfect sweater - as in, the sweater that fits you and looks flattering and isn't too tight in the armpits or too loose at the collar. And it's the perfect time of year to plot all that out - so you have a nice project to work on over the summer, and a lovely warm sweater with which to impress your friends and colleagues all next winter.

But I will be knitting Big Project Small Needles first, and reading later. Because that's the kind of girl I am. (dagnabbit.)

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Mystery knitalong - the third clue

Much excitement during Clue Two about slipped stitches: purlwise, or knitwise?

Any slipped stitch is going to be purlwise unless the pattern says otherwise - that way, you're just moving it along in its current state to the next needle without changing its orientation. If you slip it knitwise, you're turning it on the needle so that it's twisted.

If you're doing a decrease like 'slip slip knit', you want to twist the slipped stitches - that's how you get them to lean in the correct direction when you do the decrease.

And if you're doing a decrease like 'slip two together, knit one, pass slipped stitches over', as you will find yourself doing in this clue, you are definitely slipping knitwise.

See? I know all these rules.

So how come I added a note to the directions of every clue that makes it sound like the slipped stitches in an 'ssk' decrease should be slipped purlwise, when they shouldn't? If I knew, rest assured I would be berating myself for this specific reason and not just generally.

And I couldn't change it in this clue in time to get it posted so here's the deal:

Slip your stitches purlwise unless you're doing a decrease. And if you're doing a decrease, do them knitwise.

Now go forth and knit Clue Three in good health! And if you're having any trouble at all, just e-mail me.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Being tested

I know perfectly well I must wear blinders for as long as it takes me to finish Big Project, Small Needles, but I can't help it if temptation shows up by post, can I?

Oh, I know it doesn't look all that exciting. Pink sock yarn. Beautiful shade, to be sure - one of my favourites in fact and one I've already bought and used for heel and toe yarn and would love to use forever because it's so happy - but still, ahem. More sock yarn.

More sock yarn with slightly less yardage than usually arrives from the Vesper Sock Club, though. Which means it's heavier than the usual yarn. A while back there was another such yarn, which means I could pair the two and have knee socks.

Green and pink striped knee socks.

Can you stand it?

I don't know if I can, but I'm going to have to try - at least until Big Project is done...

Friday, March 5, 2010

Mystery knitalong - the second clue

Ready for more twists? Click here for the second clue!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Fair Isle knitting

Okay, finally! I have time to spill the beans about the super exciting project I have on the needles.

Well, some beans. I can't actually show it or describe it, but here's what I can say:

Kathleen Taylor is working on her next pattern book, which is all singing all dancing all Fair Isle. And if you've ever had the pleasure of looking at one of her books, you'll know they are jam packed with patterns. I mean, tons of them. How can one person knit all those samples and keep putting fantastic new books out with such frequency? If you think about it, the answer is obvious, but since I often don't think much at all I was surprised as well as thrilled when she invited me to knit one of the pieces for this new one.

Then last week I got my assignment and it was for


an adult-sized sweater.

on very small needles.

So now I am knitting what I think of as 'Big Project Small Needles', and because I pretty much have to have it done in 5 weeks because of my own time constraints, I'm not knitting anything else. I'm carrying it with me everywhere, too, because it's taking me 12 minutes per row and there are a lot of rows in this sweater.

I don't care though because this is a gorgeous, gorgeous project with heavenly yarn in colours that are pure eye candy and Fair Isle is such peaceful, meditative knitting you can't help but be happy and calm doing it.

Another perk: about an inch into the chart I found my rhythm and after consulting the chart for the next line, I'm able to carry through logically without reference to anything but the fabric below my needles. So very satisfying.

And now that I've said all that I would like to introduce my new friend, The Sweater Cup:

The black part is how far I've filled it as of now. Let's hope I get a lot of knitting time this weekend, shall we?

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

First sprouts of spring

Monday was March 1st, which means I got to open another yarn from the Biscotte & Cie sock club, which means I have serious temptation to glance away from the sweater I'm knitting as fast as I can for Kathi, about which I will tell you more tomorrow. Probably.

But I will be strong!

Because I am a woman of my word and there are only so many hours in the day and I stick to my deadlines and am not easily distracted even when there's chocolate to hand okay I'm lying about that one, I pretty much drop everything for chocolate and isn't it a good thing there isn't any in the house just now? etc.

Here's the thing: I have such a weakness for this particular lace stitch that is sometimes called candle flame or leaf or something similar and - totally leaving aside that I love this yarn and this shade of green makes me weak at the knees - the sock pattern that came with it, Spring Sprout by Jeannie Cartmel, is made up of that very stitch.

Can. You. Believe it.

Good thing Kathi's sweater is such a dream to knit, is all I can say...

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Mystery Knitalong - the first clue

And here we are!

Some people write mystery knitalong clues that lead you through an investigation, and when you consider how many short stories I've written in the mystery genre you'd think I'd be one of them. You would, however, be wrong. I'm much more interested at this moment in the knitting.

Specifically, in whether or not the many lovely people who expressed enthusiasm for this knitalong are going to continue speaking to me when they see how many right and left twists they are in for.

This concern has led me to source some technical support from The Knit Witch, though not for the right and left twists. She does have a marvelous technique for this but when you get a little into the pattern you'll notice you're doing something at the back of every twist that may or may not look right with said technique. So I made my own tutorials. They're not as good of course, being still photographs, but they should help.

And if they don't, just get a cable needle. You're only worrying about two stitches - to twist them right, hold the first stitch in back on the cable needle, and to twist them left, hold the first stitch in front.

I'm also feeling a bit sad about the really, really lame looking chart in this clue. The other clues all got lovely charts but MS Excel kicked up a terrible fuss about this one and it was either an ugly patch or a delayed start, which I thought might be even less appealing than an unattractive (but functional) chart. Sorry guys.

One last bit of housekeeping: the clue is a .pdf file, and I still hear from people who aren't able to download those - if the link doesn't work for you, please do write me and I'll e-mail it to you directly.

And without further ado...

The First Clue

Note: slipped stitches should be slipped purlwise, with the yarn held to the wrong side of the work (which is to say, in front.)

Technical Support Links


left twist

right twist



pure panic

Monday, March 1, 2010


For months now I've been thinking about (and fiercely resisting, why?) buying a swift.

I was just about to break down and order an umbrella one (even though I hate the thought of a clamp) when a friend directed my attention to Hornshaw Wood Works - or more specifically, to the beautiful tabletop swifts one can buy there.

I placed my order within about ten minutes of seeing the page at the link. Apart from the fact that they fold down to almost nothing for storage, they're gorgeous:

and even cuter when dressed up to go out:

Never mind looks though - this design is also very practical.

You can use it to wind a skein into a ball, but also to take a ball back to a skein, for example if you want to overdye some wool you already have, like another friend did last week. This is not something I aspire to, but it so happened that this very weekend I did have to take three balls of yarn back into skeins, and - amazingly - this swift is even more fun to use for that than it is for winding yarn out of them.

And that is saying something. No more chair backs for me! From now on, I'll be winding balls of yarn from the comfort of the sofa, just giving a little tug to the wool as it spins off the swift. Bliss.