Posted by: Leslie | July 25, 2010

Skein competition how-to, Part 2.5: How to make a niddy noddy

One of the most important parts of a skein competition is presentation, which largely entails winding it to a certain circumference and tying it properly. I’ll go over this in detail in my next post, but for this extra entry I’d like to emphasize the importance of a niddy noddy in the process.

A niddy noddy is a device for winding yarn into a skein, consisting of a central bar and two crossbars offset by 90 degrees. As for where such a silly name came from, I’m guessing Middle English is to blame but as both American Heritage and Merriam Webster failed me on the etymology, I’ll have to post the answer to that when I next get access to the OED. Anyway, if you’re not familiar with how to wind yarn on a niddy noddy, I’ll go over that tomorrow, but know that you can use one to determine the circumference of your skein as well as measure the length of the entire thing–again, more on that in my next post.

There are lots of lovely handmade wooden niddy noddies out there, but I like my DIY PVC version for four reasons:

1) It’s cheap
2) You can block a wet skein or hand paint yarn on it without damaging it (unlike wood)
3) You can change the circumference of the skein by using central bars of different lengths (see below)
4) It’s portable (disassemble and go)

I can’t claim ownership of the PVC design, and don’t even remember where on the web I found the instructions several years ago, but here’s how to make one. You’ll need 1/2″ PVC pipe and 2 T-joins (to fit 1/2″ diameter), seen below:

Home Depot, Lowe’s, and the like often sell PVC pipe in lengths of about 5 feet. Have the sales staff cut the pipe into four pieces measuring 6″ (for the arms of the crossbars) and one or more longer pieces for the central bar. The length of the central bar should be 1/4 of the desired skein circumference (or just a bit less, as the T-joins add an inch or two). So, if the competition calls for a 2-yard skein, the central bar should be half a yard, or 18″. A 1-yard skein requires a central bar of 9″, and so on. Here’s an 18″ bar with one of the 6″ arms:

The pipe and T-joins usually don’t run more than about $3-4, and for that you’ve got a very useful tool to add to your spinning collection.



  1. […] I’m winding a 2-yard skein, using an 18″ (1/4 of 2 yards) central bar in my niddy noddy. I start by holding the free end in the middle of the bar and passing the yarn up and over the top […]

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