Has anyone ever used a squirrel or hamster swift successfully?

Can y’all please help a sister out?

I saw one in operation at a craft fair and DH (my VP of Winding Operations) and I were fascinated. Like SUPER fascinated. As I will do anything to get my pretty, squishy skeins wound in a timely fashion, as in this calendar year or millennium, I went out and ordered one! And even put it together, all by myself!

Now, how do I use it? The provided instructions consist of a single sentence that makes no sense to me, “tie the ends of the skein together.” And a second page shows a screw to tighten if the spindle gets loose. That’s it.

I put a skein of Yowza on it, figuring that would be the best break-in I could do, and it broke me! The skein was all loose and floppy, even though I started with good tension. FWIW, I clamped my winder on the top of it, as I had seen in the demonstration. And I looked on YouTube, but I’m either searching for the wrong terms or nobody else uses one of these.

Any clues, help, or anything to put me on the right path? I’m a whiz at research, but I need a tiny little nugget to get me started.

Thanks in advance!

Deb the Clueless


F I remember correctly, Cecilia Campochiaro, of sequence fame used be in a knit stars video. Maybe you could find that on line. I’ve been wanting one ever since I saw that, so if you figure it out I’d love to know where you got it and what you think.

1 Like

The 2 cages should be removable. Loop each end of the yarn hank around a cage and replace them. They should be adjustable so you can place them so the hank has little to no slack in it. It’s best not to stretch it. Only now should you cut any figure eights or other yarns holding the hank together. Find the loose end of the hank that is coming UP from the back of the lower cage and attach it to your ball winder. Then you’re ready to wind.


Found these blog entries:

Here is a link to one video on You Tube:



Thank you all SO VERY MUCH! It took all the replies, especially the video, and a trip to the local Ace Hardware (where there are now several “manly men” who know more about knitting than they ever wanted to find out!) where it was discovered that I needed to put Howard’s stuff on it and then they monkeyed with my winder, an all metal heavy duty number with a 10 ounce cone on it, because I use a lot of Hella Hanks and Yowza. But in the end they got everything attached to everything and nothing will fall out or down as long as I keep my foot on the bottom. I highly recommend going a few hours before the local college football game, lol!

I really think the key will be to keep the inside spoke polished, fed, lubricated… what’s the word when you’re talking about wood? It never touches the yarn, so I guess it won’t matter. As for how it works, I caked all the yarn for my Bevel scarf, my swatch for the Ann Budd skirt class, and the rest of the Flyaway blanket I hope to finish before the baby is born.

And for where I got it, I don’t know the website (they definitely have one) but I ordered mine by phone - it’s Kirkland Woodworking in Andersonville, VA. Mine is in cherry, but they have other woods to choose from.

Again, thanks so much for your help! I’m loving this thing - now to keep the dogs from loving it, too!


Judy Wright (of Sheet Pan Suppers fame) has a swift like that. I had no idea it was called a squirrel or hamster swift.

When I read the title of your topic, I thought it said “Has anyone ever used a squirrel or hamster successfully?”

Which led to 2 further thoughts: 1. this is a completely normal thing for someone to say on MDK, and
2. How do we even define success for using squirrels or hamsters?

Anyhooooooo I think the idea is to get the wheels lined up so the skein fits around them and then just start winding. Judy keeps hers in the living room and it’s such a lovely thing to look at.