The Joys of Tinker Toys

Well, it is Monday again. This wonderful beginning of the week, corresponding to mother Luna and her waxing and waning tides, I devote to cleaning. Yeah, I don’t really get it either. But, it does get me to start the week with a clean house. And I have a client this evening in my appointment book, so perhaps I should take out the trash.
But, while I wait for the pep-pills to kick in so I can do all of this in the morning hours (did I mention I am not a morning person?), I felt it was time to share some yarny goodness.
I love yarn. However, yarn can be expensive. I also love recycling and reusing. It just gives me a buzz to reuse and re-purpose things for a new home. So, I have purchased 7 sweaters from the thrift store. They were on sale due to spring being just around the corner. 6 of the 7 were 100% cotton, and one was a cotton/angora blend with a metallic ply. Gorgeous stuff.
The ziplock bag is the first sweater, wrapped into balls.
The hank is from the second sweater, fresh off the new swift.
Unfortunately, at the time, I was too eager to rip all of these lovelies apart, and did not get pictures. As I went on my journey of discovery via google for how exactly to do this recycled yarn thing, I discovered I would be needing a few tools. Here I discovered a tutorial for frogging the sweaters in general. You would think it would be easy, right? No, seams had to be undone first, and then the knots untied, then the ripping goodness could begin.
Now, this is better than bubble wrap for frustration relief in my opinion. But, after wrapping the first sweater into balls, that I realized I would have to hank later in order to wash it, I decided I was in need a of a swift. My budget was not ready to expand from $70 to $200 to accommodate this need, so instead I looked for other options. I found one that I thought would accommodate not only my budget, but my endless need for modular life. Tinker Toys! After raiding the closet, finding none, and then calling all the toy stores in town, I acquired a big set at Toys R Us. First I built a small swift, to un-hank the yarn my mother had dyed for me years ago. I never could put this yarn into center pull balls because I made a horrible mess each time I tried.
My first design for my new Tinker Toy
swift. It only has three arms, because this yarn
was already hanked from my mother
who dyed it for me.
But of course, this had to be modified when I wanted to frog some more sweaters. I didn’t want little tiny hanks to wash. So this was the second incarnation of the adjustable swift:
You can see I am wrapping a ball back on to the swift. It was after this I realized I was just making extra work for myself. D’oh! But no worries, the problem has been corrected. I am now going direct from sweater to swift.

But I persisted and finished up that sweater’s worth of yarn. Here is the last hank on the swift. I tied the beginning and the end of the yarn together, so I would have both ends when it came time to take this back out of hanks and put it into balls.

Here you can see that I have put in the scrap yarn to hold the hanks together as best I can. I found that a weaving back and forth through the hank worked best. It is hard to describe in words, but easy to do. Place the center of the scrap yarn at the bottom of the hank, insert a finger through the hank about a third of the way up, wrap the scrap yarn around the hank by pushing both ends through to the opposite sides respectively. Go up another third increment and push a finger through the hank creating a space. Take the back yarn and bring it through the front. Pick up the bottom front yarn and check which side it was on on the last pass, put it through the hole on the other side this time. Bring both ends to the top and tie with a square knot. Of course, you can divide in any increment needed. Smaller yarns I found worked better with more wraps, while thicker yarns didn’t seem to need it.





And now, tada! The sweater all hanked up and ready to wash. It came out to this pile, which is seven hanks of various thickness. This was by far the thickest yarn of them all. It was six plies.

Here are some shots of my interesting drying apparatus. Yes, I used some of the handy gear to create a spacing for the hangers. These hung here and drip dried for about 8 hours. Then, someone needed the shower, so I had to move the whole contraption to the mudroom to finish drying.

My wonderful husband, Superman, noticed I was having some stability problems, and so he helped me modify the design more. He basically inverted my idea, and built a frame around the spinning area to stabilizeit. I added the tensioner, which had the handy side effect of catching any tangles as I was winding. We moved the turn handle into the center from the outside, so it can be twirled with just the fingers. You can see the gorgeous yarn now on the swift. It is the cotton and angora blend. I think this will become a shrug for my mom. 

And here is a pile of happily done yarn. I love the texture of all this crimp. I don’t like knitting with it, so it needs to be washed out. The orange is a gorgeous thick cotton that I may over dye. I haven’t decided. The small bag is still leftovers from the first sweater that need to be hanked. I think I will ply this yarn either with itself or something else, as it is so thin. But it is a nice yarn.