Swifting & Sewing Scrap Strips...A Tutorial

You have heard the saying "Necessity is the Mother of Invention"...right?  I'm pretty sure that was the basis for the invention of the 'Swift/Skein Holder' by some guy whose arms and hands went numb after hours of holding up a hank of yarn while his wife wound the yarn into a ball.  Of course it was worth it when the said yarn ball was knitted into socks and gloves.

Just in case you are unfamiliar with the Swift, here's a swift synopsis...it is a tool used to hold a hank of yarn while being wound into a ball.  It has an adjustable diameter so that it can hold different sizes of hanks and rotates around a central rod. 

Generally made of wood or metal unless you have a vintage one made of whale ivory...highly collectible and if ever you find one...swiftly swift that Swift up!

Swifts are not used very much in the textile/fabric industry, but more so by knitters and crocheters.  As you know I am multi-fiberist...one who does both textiles/fabric and yarn/string/thread/ whatever.  That is how I came to own a Swift...the yarn to whatever stuff, and I certainly do appreciate having it since my hank holder husband falls asleep from boredom.  When not in use...the swift...not husband...is sheathed in it's cover...much like the sleeping husband...and is mounted on the sewing work table just waiting for the next hank of yarn.  Needless to say, I am not into hanks of yarn right now, but I am in NEED of something to wind yards and yards of fabric strips into a nice neat roll...like a quilters jelly roll.  So, here comes the Mother of Invention.

TaDa...the 4T-SSR...short for...ToiletTubeTubTop Swift Strip Roller.
Here are the steps to making one...just in case you don't want to wait for mine to be patented, produced and marketed. 
Materials....1 toilet tube (without toilet paper); 1 round plastic lid (best if lid has a raised rim, but not imperative).  Step 1.  Mark and cut out circle for tube in the center of lid.  Step 2.  Hot glue tube to lid on top and underneath with an inch or so of the tube sticking out on the under side.  Step 3.  Slide the tube/lid over top of Swift and secure with clips.   Now you are ready to ROLL!!!  So, Let's Roll!!!
Before we roll, we first have to ready the strips.  Here I have cut all the strips I will need for a 24x36 rag rug...approximately 14 yards of 7 different fabrics.  Each strip is cut 1.75 inches by 2 yards.

Each bundle is tagged with strips linear yardage so I know about how many rounds the roll will make as the rug progresses.  After a few times of cutting and rolling, I can pretty much estimate how far it will go and not have to tag.
Next, set your stitch length to the smallest length...usually your default setting...on mine it is 2.2

Open your strip bundle and separate the 2 strip lengths matching and overlapping the 2 ends.  Set one strip length to your left and the other to your right. 

They will hang over each side of your lap to the floor. Now you are ready to chain piece your bundle of strips together. 

Example:  1 bundle of 6 sets = 12 strips
                  12 strips chained 2 together = 6 strips
                   6 strips chained  2 together = 3 strips
                   3 strips chained together = 1 strip 1.75 by 16 linear yds. There is no need to back stitch the strips as you chain. The small stitching is adequate to hold the strips together both for rolling and crocheting.  Just be sure the overlap is enough so the pieces will not pull apart.
At the end of each chained group clip the strips apart and lay in your lap.  Pull a strip from each side of your lap and match ends as you did in the first round of chaining.

Repeat until you have one long strip.

Now we are really ready to try out the 4T-SSR.

 #1.  Attach the strip...right side out...to the tube with a straight pin making sure it is above the strip so you can remove it when finished rolling.
#2.  Gently stretch the strip out with bottom edge touching the lid lip.  It is easy to hold the strip between two fingers so it can slide through without twisting.  Notice the pile of stripping below...this distance allows for the strip to straighten out and unfold as you roll.
#3.  Turn the handle on the Swift to begin rolling.  Brace your elbow against your side to maintain level rolling and tension on the roller.
#4.  At the end of rolling...remove the clips and the straight pin and slide the roll off the tube.
Tie and Label
Be sure and maintain the center as it slipped off the Toilet Tube!!
So it will fit on the 4T-SSR Stand!!!


  1. welcome back. All the best for 2017. This sounds like an awesome machine for a multi-fiberist. I am not included in that group, but you were thorough in your description. Good luck to all those folks with skeins of yarn.

    1. Good to be back! Yep, I'm sure there are hundreds of fiberists emptying toilet paper tubes and butter tubs to replicate my 4T-SSR invention. I'm using mine until my 'Simplicity Strip Winder' arrives...then I'll be really rollin'.

  2. Oh Sue, I'm speechless. You need to pitch this on Shark Tank and give Mr. Wonderful a crack at it.

    1. LOL!!! I might do it just to meet Mr. Wonderful! After all, he is a 'High Roller'.


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