Niddy Noddy

By Admin Tuesday December 8, 2015

What is a Niddy Noddy

Niddy noddy is a tool that can quickly transform your yarn into skein. It consists of a central piece with a T pivoted at each end so that they are offset by 90° to each other. This presents you with four ends to wrap your yarn around thus creating a loop of yarn that is considerably longer than the niddy noddy itself.

Niddy Noddy
Niddy Noddy


Though the origin of the tool is shrouded in mystery, we can find its traces in history. In the 1501 Leonardo da Vinci painting, Madonna of the Yarnwinder, a niddy noddy is held by child Christ. According to some authors, the tool symbolizes the crucifix or Christ’s death. In days of yore, the name suggested any bobbing object. Since they have been used down the ages, interesting vintage designs of the tool can be found at flea markets, antique shops, even e-commerce sites.

What Does a Niddy Noddy Look Like

Though these tools are predominantly made from simple wood, their composition varies from all sorts of materials ranging from luxurious solid cherries to white PVC pipes. Some plans feature three upturned ends along with a flat fourth. While the former ends prevent your yarn from slipping off the frame, the latter assists in pulling off the skein at the end of the process.

Size and Length Measurements

The commercial ones come in various sizes. They are built with the capacity to hold around 36-inch to 85-inch skeins. Though most of the modern versions create hack lengths between two and three yards, mini niddy noddies can make small samples of around 24 inches. This is useful for many spinners as they can spin a sample yarn, ply it and then skein it using them. After washing it, the spinner can check if the sample yarn is as desired or not. While most niddy noddies are of a fixed length, some adjustable or collapsible varieties fit different lengths of hacks.


Spinners, knitters and weavers find it easy to manage their fiber during the soaking, washing and dyeing process with this. Apart from keeping your yarn tangle-free, it also plays the role of a yarn measuring tool. You simply need to keep a track of the number of times you wrap your yarn around the niddy noddy. Then, multiply it by the length of the tool. This helps to form a rough idea of the yardage of handspun yarn. It is also advantageous to crocheters and knitters who might occasionally find an unmarked ball of yarn in their stash.


Colonial Niddy Noddy
Colonial Niddy Noddy

How to Use a Niddy Noddy

After securing one end of your yarn by tucking it beneath your hand, grasp the central bar like a baton. Put the yarn up and over the left side of the top cross-arm. Bring the yarn down and under the right side of the lower cross-arm. Bring the yarn up and over the right end of the top cross-arm and then down and under the left of the lower cross-arm. You have completed one full wrap.  Repeat the process for the desired length of skein.

Niddy Noddy Pattern
Niddy Noddy Pattern

A Niddy Noddy in Use – Video

Instructions to Make a Niddy Noddy

  • Use a basic small-tooth saw to cut four pieces of 6-inch length from a PVC pipe. They form the top and bottom of your skeining device.
  • Use sandpaper to smoothen the cut edges. Then attach them to the tops of a couple of half inch T connectors.
  • The central part can be of any length depending on the length of your skeins of yarn.
  • Link the central piece to the inner parts of the T connectors.
  • When you want to use it, rotate one end by 90° from the other.
  • You might glue the pieces of PVC together, but then you cannot twist it according to your wish.
Niddy Noddy DIY
Niddy Noddy DIY


Another similar tool that helps in dealing with yarn is a swift. It holds your yarns securely and spins them as you wind them into balls. Some manual alternatives include winding your yarn around your forearm from hand to the elbow or using the back of a chair for making the hacks.

The niddy noddy, owing to its strategic design is easily one of the favorite spinning accessories till date. Its fast winding up of yarn into skeins with a typical steady to and fro nodding motion suits its name perfectly.

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