Weekend with Niddy Noddy

What the heck is a niddy noddy… I didn’t have a clue until Madgeface (feel like I am mocking her when I call her that)  told me that I was missing a step in my wool spinning for my weaving project.   This week not only did I make a niddy noddy, I tried for the first time to ply some wool yarn (hmmm….niddy noddy…sounds like made up words….  similar to saying I made a thingamabob).  If you are looking for expert advice… this is probably not the place… but if you are curious or if you just want to “mock” a novice…  keep reading.


I had some left over natural brown/black wool… from my  Human Hair – Wool yarn (whair) project… So I spun it on a bottom whorl drop spindle (that is a mouth full) which you can see from the picture above.


I wanted to ply two colors so for the second color I had some left over black bean dyed wool.  This was an earlier experiment and I loved the cool gray/blue color that was created from the beans.   I will not go into detail on the process but it is very simple… in fact here is picture from that experiment.

Here are the beans that have been soaking over night.   I removed them and added the wool (that had been soaked in a mordant) to the beanwater and let it sit over night.   That is practically all there was to it…

The next step is to ply the two yarns… (and hope the two colors don’t look horrible together).   I fortunately always spin my singles clockwise… This means that when I ply I should spin in the opposite direction… counter clockwise.   Wished I could say I am incredibly coordinated and this was simple… but it took a bit of time to get use to spinning in the “wrong” direction and having two threads.

plying yarn.jpg

Sam (my 12 year old son) took this photo while I was plying the two threads together.  (thank goodness… I don’t look uncoordinated in the picture…and I know you are wonder about the duck… I got it at a yard sell…).  When I ran out of one of the threads (the brown one) I stopped and started winding the thread around my niddy noddy (that almost sounds dirty).


I made the niddy noddy out of a copper tube and two copper tees.   I was going to cut dowels for the ends where the yarn wraps around… but I got lazy.  I will do this in the future (if it seems necessary… not sure if it is or not).   The niddy noddy height is  only 10 inches… I didn’t think about making it a standard size so it would be easy to determine how many yards of yarn I had.


Here is all of the yarn wrapped and washed waiting to dry.   I am not sure about the color but it seems to be “ok” and for my first two ply yarn I do not feel horrible.

first two ply yarn.jpg

Here is the yarn off of the niddy noddy and after measuring the length and counting the threads I calculated about 50 yards… hmmm what can you make with 50 yards…  I guess it could be a stripe in some sweater… (of course I would have to learn how to knit).

By the way… if you are an expert in this and see any mistakes or things I could do better or should have done please leave a comment.  I would love to get some advice.





29 thoughts on “Weekend with Niddy Noddy

  1. Heeeyyyy! Your niddy noddy & finished yarn look great! It does feel kind of awkward to ply, especially with a spindle, but the more you do it, the more you’ll get used to it (just like spinning). You got much better results with black beans than I did; I stupidly used heat and ended up with a grayish brown. I’ll have to try it again sometime. And I don’t feel mocked at all by you using my username; it was a term of endearment that an old friend used for me and I uncreatively ended up using it as my default username everywhere.

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      1. The only problem with the black bean dying is that it’s fugitive – not as light-fast as woad or indigo and it will likely fade quickly. There are other things that give blue, though (other than those 3) – you might want to see if your library has Wild Color by Jenny Dean (or spring for it on Amazon) – it’s my go-to for natural dye.

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  2. I love that you thought saying playing with a niddy noddy sounded dirty! lol oh, a little history lesson…in the early 1600’s a niddy noddy was used to the rhythm of a song, the opening line of which ran, ‘Niddy-noddy, niddy-noddy, two heads and one body.” Just a bit of wierd history for ya this weekend!

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  3. Quintessential you….oh, how intriguing and entertaining. I never know what you will come out with/up with next. 🙂 By the way, I really like the colour of the yarn. Shout-out to Madgeface for helping you out 🙂 Thanks for another great post!

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  4. Great niddy noddy, I made mine out of plastic pipes. I made two middle bits, one 6 inches and one 12 inches so I can make mini skeins. I am no expert on these matters but your playing looks very neat to me. 😊

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  5. Did you dry the yarn on the Niddy Noddy? If so, then your yardage count is probably wrong – you stretched the yarn (what knitters call “blocking”) which means that, as soon as you soak it, the wool will shrink back to its original size.
    My advise with such an instrument is: never forget to wind the wool with a little bit of slack if you intend to have a more accurate yardage, otherwise you’re stretching the yarn and getting a wrong count 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Leonor… I did dry the yarn on the niddy noddy… so I am off… and from what you just said I have even less than I thought… hmmm… sure makes you appreciate all of the hard work that goes into making yarn…

      Thank you so much for taking the time to give me the advice… I love getting all of this “free advice”…

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I have no advice. Nor do I understand how you research, learn and then create all of these elaborate things…well, elaborate to me! Was wondering, how true is the coloring from the photos? The spin of the two colors looks pretty interesting.

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  7. When you take your plied yarn off the niddy noddy, you want it to have a slight twist to the ply direction… Basically it will look like you overplied it. Then let it have a nice soak for 10 to 15 min or longer if you are like me and forget it. Anyway, then squeeze our your water (roll the yarn in a towel) and give it a nice pop the hang it. It should then look “balanced”. If it comes off the niddy noddy balanced before you finish it in a soak it’s probably under plied. Generally the only time you finish a yarn on your niddy noddy is when you are finishing a single. Then you need to wash it and block it on the niddy noddy or it gets all wildly cray because it has so much energy.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much….I am still trying to figure all of this out… So I really appreciate your comments….I have been weaving with single ply strait off of the whorl… And you are correct too much energy in the thread


      1. Cool, if you email me the address where you would like it sent I will pop it in the post – my email is claire(dot)norton(at)stmarys(dot)ac(dot)uk – does that make sense? What do you fancy – alpaca or Jacob sheep – I have some yearling fleece from the sheep left (that is the wool from the first shearing, but you probably already know this ….sorry)

        Liked by 1 person

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