Why Wouldn’t You?

I recently decided I needed a yarn winder.  One of those gadgets that you use to wind a lovely, neat ball of wool when you buy it in a skein or when you need two balls of yarn for socks or an intarsia project.  One of those gadgets that make it so that the yarn emerges from the centre of the ball and, therefore, doesn’t shoot off across the floor with a cat in hot pursuit.  I know you can use your two hands but why do that when you can have a gadget that does it for you in at least half the time and when the result is much neater than I can manage.

Being me, I couldn’t just buy a plastic winder from somewhere in China.   Oh no.  I have to do ‘research’.  Then, of course, I see a lovely wooden winder on Pinterest from a Scandinavian company that costs around 150 euros which is ridiculous, so I go on eBay France and, after much racking my brains as to what one of these things would be called in french (enrouleur de fil, if you’re interested), I saw this.

Wooden Yarn WinderI was the only bidder – are you surprised? –  and I am chuffed as I would rather buy a bit of vintage than a bit of plastic.  You can see, on the label, the make is ‘Rapid Plot’ which doesn’t sound very french but I am assuming it is a play on words as the french for a ball of yarn is ‘pelote’ which, if you say it quickly enough, sounds like plot.  This dates before 1968, according to the other markings, which just goes to show that franglais has been going long before ‘le weekend’ , ‘le shopping’, etc.   I do love a bit of franglais – I speak it myself – but I find it amusing when they use an english word for something but then don’t understand it when you say it with an english accent.  This means that when – or more likely, if, – I talk about a local bar which is called ‘Le Lounge’, I have to do some vocal gymnastics and call it ‘le Loooonge’, otherwise I am looked upon with pity and non-comprehension, although that isn’t an unusual reaction to most things I say here to be honest.

Anyway, I digress.  After my purchase of the ball winder – note I am using ‘yarn’ and ‘ball’ alternately here to include both sides of the Atlantic – I realised I needed something called a ‘Swift’.  Who knew?  Again, something that can be done with your own two hands – or, more accurately, the two hands of a willing assistant or, failing that, the back of a chair – can be performed by a gadget.  This time, a glorious thing, which you clamp to the side of a table and open like some sort of mad umbrella frame and then drape your skein around its welcoming arms, link it up to your Rapid Plot and Voila!  Again, I didn’t want a plastic one but didn’t want to pay too much for the wooden variety.

Because I was at yoga class on Saturday morning, I couldn’t get to a new (very popular) house clearance type shop that has recently opened just down the road and is only open at weekends as they presumably spend the rest of the week clearing out houses of old tut that will end up in other houses until it is deemed, by the new owners, to have become old tut again and so it continues in the vintage and antiques world.  So I told  asked Mr. T. to go and have a look and see if there was anything worth having and, when I rang him after yoga, he said something like  ‘no, it was a load of crap’ .  I don’t trust him as far as this sort of thing is concerned so, on my way home, I popped in myself and spent 100 euros and, amongst the things I bought was a wooden swift, here posing with its friend the Rapid Plot.

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Apparently, he had spotted it and knew I wanted one but just because there is a little split in the knobbly bit you push up and down he didn’t buy it and neither did he tell me about it when I phoned.  It was only 10 euros, he knew I was looking for one, he knew I would probably go in there at some stage and see it myself so, I had to ask, ‘why wouldn’t you?’ , to which he didn’t have a satisfactory answer.  In future, I will not trust him to spot a good thing in a junk shop.

His punishment was that they didn’t take cards and, only having supposed to have gone out for a yoga class, I didn’t have my cheque book on me (who writes cheques anymore anyway?) plus I bought an antique Pfaff  treadle sewing machine  and this lovely display stand of haberdashery drawers so I had to phone him to come down to the shop with the cheque book and extra car space to get my booty back home.  Booty as in stuff I’d bought, not as in the Beyoncé type of  ‘booty’ or is that spelled differently?

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I’m off to wind some balls of wool/yarn now – just for the hell of it.


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  1. #1 by Lynne@boutschoisis on April 10, 2014 - 14:24

    Have fun with your Swift – I hope there will be a demonstration of its use appearing in photo form! Not to mention the pictures of the treadle …

    • #2 by tialys on April 11, 2014 - 11:17

      I need to find a little clamp for the swift so that I can attach it to the table, otherwise I have to hold it and wind at the same time. I’m sure I’ll be able to pick one up at the local hardware shop. Then, I must go back to a cardigan I bought skeins for (abandoned for the reason that me and the cable pattern were not getting along very well!) and get them wound into beautiful balls of wool. We had to have the treadle machine practically immersed in oil in order to free up the mechanism but it works now and I am busy finding my rhythm with the foot pedal – I’ll probably post about it when I can get some good pics.

  2. #3 by Jan Marriott on April 10, 2014 - 14:49

    Oh.I love Rapid plot……does it work?
    Your swift is much prettier than mine, (metal) but what did I expect for 50 cents at a jumble.

    • #4 by tialys on April 11, 2014 - 11:19

      It does Jan – just got to get a table clamp for it. I find it fascinating – the way it works – but then I am a simple soul!

  3. #5 by Trishia Jacobs on April 10, 2014 - 20:11

    SO enjoyed reading this!! Will share on my Facebook page. Too good of a read not to pass on. We must teach these men a lesson or two in trying to subvert our vintage buying, mustn’t we:) Had no clue what a swift was/is, but I sure like it. Seem like it could become a most fascinating mobile display … for something like, say, postcards.

    • #6 by tialys on April 11, 2014 - 11:23

      Thanks Trishia. He makes me laugh when I come home from a vintage buying spree – he reminds me of Fagin with his boy thieves and says ‘show me what you’ve got for me, my dear’ and then says things like ‘who would want this piece of tut?’, ‘how much?’ and ‘where are we going to put that?’ and other words of encouragement.

  4. #7 by katechiconi on April 17, 2014 - 13:45

    Where are the elegant skeins and uniform balls of wool – surely you haven’t been able to resist using this fabulous set up? Besides, it makes the perfect excuse to buy more yarn!

  5. #8 by tialys on April 17, 2014 - 15:47

    I have had a little play Kate but am already half way through two different knitting projects at the moment so I’m trying to restrain myself and not start anything else yet.

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