A swift can be as simple as four rods fixed into an axis, with bands connecting them. By sliding the bands the effective diameter changes, for different sized hanks. However, most swifts are more complicated than this.
The 'umbrella swift' is one of the more common varieties, the advantage of it being that it folds up when not in use. Wooden umbrella swifts are the most common type of swift in use. They are preferred by hand spinners because they fold up, which is good for storage, and they are generally more stable, of higher quality, and look nicer than metal umbrella swifts.
Another type is the 'Amish style' swift, a rotating cross with positionable pegs to adjust for different diameters of hanks.
A spinners weasel is similar to a swift, however it does not adjust to various sized hanks. While today this is a big disadvantage, as different manufacturers don't always make hanks the same size, it was not an issue when all yarn was hand spun. At this time hanks from one spinner would all be the same size, as they would have been made on the same niddy noddy, thus only one diameter was needed.
Read more about this topic: Swift (textiles)
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