Knitting yarn holder

A major problem when knitting is that depending on how the yarn is pulled from the ball it can twist and create biased fabric.  This is bad for large garment projects because the clothes will be all twisty and not fit right.  However, many knitters don’t even realize that this is a problem.

Twist isn’t really only a yarn knitting problem.  It happens to DNA, ribbons, tape measures, garden hoses, tubing, toilet paper, everything that is basically a long string.  Imagine if you took a roll of toilet paper and pulled from the center instead of unrolling from the outside, you’d have a twisty mess that is not nearly as useful :D.

Techknitting blog has a great series about yarn twist.

To combat this problem, there are various yarn lazy susan contraptions I’ve seen around, most of which are crafted out of beautiful wood, cost lots of money, and hold only one ball of yarn or the balls are stuck in place. They also have design features that make them prone to tipping or in combination with unnecessary features to combat tipping that make the devices more unwieldy.

Toilet paper yarn holders in action
Toilet paper yarn holders in action

Following up on the toilet paper analogy, I’ve actually been using toilet paper holders for the past year. They are mounted to a pieces of wood bases and yarn balls are threaded onto the spring loaded holders. Looks ridiculous, not very compact, but works.

Since I’ve started color knitting, I think I’m ready for an upgrade. I don’t need the beautiful woodcraft look, but something that:

  • Holds multiple colored balls
  • Colors are hot-swapable
  • Reconfigurable for number of colors in project
  • Easy to transport / is not unwieldy
  • Somewhat durable
  • Works on uneven surfaces (low center of gravity, distributed load)
  • Cheap and easy to make
  • Isn’t bathroom joke fodder

Being the engineer/scientist/whatever it is that I am, I’ve been thinking about this and about how these requirements are met for other twist-prevention applications.  And I have designed something I’m pretty excited about.

Well, my love built it and it is great! Almost perfect!

Materials used were:
5″x8″ piece of MDF, 3/4″ thick
3/8″ pex pipe, cut to 12cm pieces
12″ 5/16″ threaded bolt, cut to 4″ pieces
5/16″ threaded insert nuts
1.5″ washers and rubber bands

Yarn axels were made by inserting yarn ball onto pipe with washer held in place by a rubberband. Posts were assembled by screwing threaded bolts into threaded inserts in MDF board. Yarn balls on axels fit over bolts and turn very smoothly!

Nut placement was great for 2 balls at 5″ apart. Nut placement for 3 balls was totally wrong, needed to calculate spacing better. Also need better care in drilling straight holes for nut inserts.


Toekick heater conversion in our kitchen

I keep meaning to write up the toekick conversion we did in our kitchen baseboard heat, which I described the motivation in this post.

But it was complicated!  And my Massachusetts friends tell me it’s actually illegal to do plumbing work your owns in Mass (but not so in NH).

So I will give a high-level description of what we did, and if one wants to do their own project some additional research will be needed.  I will say all information we needed was found in Youtube videos, online forums, and diy articles.  This project was still not for everyone, it took us 3 weekends and some mid-week shopping.

Quick problem recap

We wanted to put more cabinets and work space in our kitchen, but the remaining wall was taken up by baseboard heat.


Convert baseboard heat into toekick fan that fits under cabinets.  We got the Myson Whispa Kickspace III 7000EZ from


We dropped the hot water pipe behind the baseboard under the floor and created a short parallel loop up to the kitchen that fed the toekick fan.

Weekend 1

(1) Measure in & out of kitchen baseboard pipe and find supply pipe under floor, access from garage ceiling below.

(2) Figure out zones, supply, and return lines for hydronic heating system to boiler, also other major parts zone valves & pump.

(3) Plan new pipe layout, to describe in Cartesian coordinates (x,y,z): x & y will be same as original baseboard pipe layout except now below floor (we had an L), other z considerations are floor joists for the direction in which the pipe can’t go between joists (we went under joists, then build soffit box around).


Buy materials needed, including monoflow tee (only at plumbing supply store), copper pipe, pipe cutter for tight spaces, abrasive cloth, assortment of elbows, tees, and couplings.

Pipe cutters and gear needed
Pipe cutters and gear needed

Weekend 2

(1) Drain water from system: shut off water supply to boiler, valve between supply & return, and only open zone valve for zone to be drained.  Connect hose to drain outlet and open drain valve, remove water from system.

(2) Cut old pipes leading up to kitchen, remove baseboards and old pipe in kitchen.

(3) Cut new pipes for new layout planned in weekend 1, fit the pipes together.

Weekend 3

Solder pipes, refill water in system, bleed air, turn on heat.


(It was so not that easy..)