I was blessed to come into a mother lode of undyed yarn from a dear teacher who is also my friend. She had bought the yarn years ago with the intention to dye and weave it, but has since lost interest in using wool. When I first saw the amount of yarn she was giving me, I could hardly breathe! First, because I was so grateful, but also because my mind starting RACING with all of the projects that I was envisioning for the yarn. When I got the yarn home (contained in a large garbage can converted to wool yarn holder), I saw that the hanks of yarn were huge! I immediately got out my niddy noddy and made 20 hanks of yarn that were 450 feet long a piece. (I of course did this over several days) Since I got SO much practice using my niddy noddy, I thought that it might be helpful for others to learn how to use a niddy noddy. It’s one of my new favorite handwork tools!
First, if you don’t have one already, get a niddy noddy at your fiber arts store or my favorite go-to “Dharma Trading Company”. They’re really not expensive–around $20 for a standard size. If you’re really serious about dyeing yarn, it’s definitely worth the investment. The other option of using the back of a chair takes so much longer and does not keep the yarn as neat.
Practice your first pass around the niddy noddy. I like to start on the bottom left corner in the front–leaving a tail that is a couple inches long–holding the end of the yarn tightly with my thumb. The first destination is the right hand corner. (Once you do a few rounds, you can let go of the tail or tuck it under so that your thumb is free and you can hold the middle bar easily.)
(As a note, starting in the left hand corner is my personal preference. A lot of people start on the middle bar, but I found that the tail kept getting in my way and I went faster starting in the left hand corner.)
Go around the right hand corner from the front and go straight down to the bottom right hand corner. Hook around the front of the bottom right hand corner and go diagonally up in back to the top left hand corner. Hook the left corner from the back and come straight down the left to where you start.
You’ve completed one round!
When you buy the niddy noddy, it will tell you what “size” one round is–for example, my niddy noddy is 5 feet or approx. 1.5 meters. You now have to do a little math to determine the length of yarn you want to have in your hank. Since I was working with huge hanks to start with, I wanted to split them in half which was about 450 feet. Doing the math, I knew that I had to do 90 passes around the niddy noddy. I know it sounds like a lot, but once I got the hang of how to use a niddy noddy, it went really quickly! Even though these were big hanks, they took me less than 10 minutes each!
To finish the hank, complete a full round, cut the yarn (with an inch or two extra) and tie the start and end together. I like to use a big bow so that I can easily see it.
Next, using acrylic yarn or synthetic string, divide the yarn in half and go in a “crazy eight” around the yarn to bind it. You need to do this in at least one other place on the hank, but 3 or 4 times is ideal. I like to use a contrasting color to bind so that I can easily see it. This is really helpful when you’re washing or dyeing your yarn and need to take it out of the liquid. Always grab the yarn by the binding! (or you’ll have a tangled mess!)
Here’s a picture of most of the hanks that I did. I’ll do a couple posts later to show you a second step in preparing on my way to dyeing the yarn!