I’m so excited that I figured out how to embed a video! DH designed a skeiner for me, and wrote up instructions in case you like it enough to make one too. It works very well. The loop shown is just the right length to stretch out a skein on my dyeing table, which is a six foot folding plastic banquet table. I’m going to make a loop of waste yarn just that length, and tie my current project yarn onto it, so each skein is the same length.
Using the Hose Reel Skein Winder
Our purpose in designing the Hose Reel Skein Winder was to have a device that would allow us to wind skeins of any length, including very long ones, to facilitate special hand-dyeing projects. We also became frustrated using two wooden posts, because passing a ball of yarn around was unwieldy. This design allows us to have one person stand next to one unit and turn a wheel that winds the skein relatively quickly and easily.
The length of the skein is not limited and infinitely variable, because it is established by the yarn itself and not by any fixed setting on the winder. The first step is to measure the desired circumference of the skein from the end of the yarn, hold the point measured to, then tie the end of the yarn to that point. It is best to add a little to the measurement to allow enough yarn to make the knot. One technique is to measure exactly one inch more than the desired circumference, then tie the knot so that the measured point connects with the other end of the yarn exactly one inch from the end.
An alternative to forming the loop out of the yarn being skeined is to make a loop out of another non-slippery yarn, with a small loop to which the yarn can be tied. This would be particularly useful if the user often makes skeins of the exact same size, as measuring for successive skeins could be eliminated.
The resulting loop of yarn is placed over the hose reels on the 2 units of the winder, which are then moved apart until an appropriate amount of tension is placed on the loop. While we do not wish to stretch the yarn too much, we need enough tension that the loop will not droop too much between the units (not a problem) and there will be enough friction on the yarn at the driving reel that turning the reel will cause the loop to turn like a fan belt. The non-driving reel can be held by a helper or held still by tying to something, sticking the base under a chair or plopping something heavy on it. Movement, while it might interrupt the process, does not cause any serious problem, because the length of the skein is determined by the length of the loop tied in the yarn, not by the distance between the units. Similarly, adjustments to tension can be made by moving the driving reel around, without causing any problems with the length of the skein.
After the loop is mounted on the units and appropriate tension is obtained, the driving reel is turned so that the yarn from the ball or cone is pulled over the top of the driving reel. Left-handed users will probably want to put the driving reel on the opposite end of the loop from right-handers, and turn counter-clockwise, while right-handers turn clockwise. The other hand can be used to steady the unit and guide the yarn onto the reel to get a smooth, even skein. We have found it easy just to let the source ball or cone sit in a box at the feet of the operator, where it can bounce around happily while yarn is drawn from it. The entire skein is driven around the two units and becomes larger and larger as more yarn is taken from the source.
edit added 6/15/2008: DH bought another hose reel, so that I will have 2 with slippery surface. This is useful when using the device as a swift, to make a ball, or different length skein. Because they detach easily from the framework, this presents no difficulty, but does add $10 or so to the material cost.
If you want one of your own, copy and paste the instruction pages below to your own file.
I hope this will have all of us dyeing with greater ease.