Someone asked yesterday on the WeaveTech Yahoo group about winding off skeins of very fine silk. I gave my answer there, but I thought I would post it here also along with the picture of the swift I like.
First a proviso. There are as many opinions about weaving as there are weavers. Each of us has our own experiences, materials we use, and kinds of cloth we create. What is a perfect solution for one weaver may not be appropriate for your application and way of working. Let’s all try to respect each other’s experiences and learn from them.
On to the winding of threads.
The problem with winding from umbrella swifts is that they have an uneven diameter, narrowest in the center and expanding outward towards the spokes. With yarn this fine, no matter what, it tends to slide to the center. Winding with an umbrella swift can be done, but is not ideal. Some very well respected weavers suggested that winding with the umbrella swift horizontally is better than vertically. But IMHO that is because of the inherent problem with tensioning the skein evenly across its width.
A swift like a Schacht Goko, with an even width all the way across works better, if your skein fits its diameter. Gokos can be set to a range of skein diameters, but are more limited than umbrella swifts in that regard. It is a vertical swift, but because the tension is even, no sliding of threads occurs. The Goko is fiddly, but the best I have found for the job. And, no, I have no relationship with Schacht.
No matter what, it is best to wind by hand, even though you think it will take longer. By the time the electric winder pulls, breaks the thread and you have to search for the ends, it will take longer. Unless you are much better with an electric winder than I am.
If it breaks, don’t hold on to the end tightly. This may embed the yarn in the package. Just open your hand and let it go. The loose end with be in the air and much easier to find.
Also, wind with a very even tempo to avoid snapping the yarn. If you feel a tightness, stop and loosen it by hand rather than pulling on it. Wind off in a criss-cross fashion so you can find the end if it does break.
A Goko swift with fine muga silk: