A Nostepinne is the grandmother of the yarn ball winder. People hundreds of years ago used it at home and in factories. Wondering what these are? Want to learn how to use it? I answer these questions and give recommendations below.
They’re hand-carved quality wood pieces to ones made from bamboo. Winding with these takes a bit of practice, but it’s relaxing and meditative.
I reviewed, fact checked and updated this post on April 21, 2023
Table Of Contents
- Which Is The Best Nostepinne?
- Handmade Beech Nostepinne Ball Winder
- Nostepinne – Oak/ Red Cedar/ Ammonia Fumed Oak Ball Winder
- Your Questions Answered
Which Is The Best Nostepinne Available?
CHIAOGOO – Make Great Gifts
It was created by the popular knitting and crochet notions and tools company, Chiaogoo. This nostepinne is made from a pale, unspecified hardwood. It has a smooth, gripped finish. This product is carved with notches and grooves to make it easier to hold and use.
- Made in China
- Carved handle with grooves to help you grip it
- 11 inches long
- Made of a smooth hardwood
- Instructions on how to use it included
- It has a notch at the top of it to help keep the yarn in one place
- Works as well for left-handers as it does for right-handers
- 5-star reviews praising the functionality and ease of use
- Smooth and easy to grip without slipping
- Only ships to the states in Mainland US, not Alaska, Hawaii or US Territories
- Doesn’t ship internationally either
- Takes a bit of time to master
Handmade Beech Nostepinne Ball Winder – Suits A Knitter Or Crocheter
Made in Scotland by a small family woodworking business called AnyFink, this is a real work of art. Made from spalted beech, spalting is the natural process of aging the wood, and it changes color as it does so. It’s carved with a smooth finish and a good grip, an area to rest your thumb, and a tapered shaft to hold the yarn.
- Hand Carved
- Very beautiful with the different pigments of wood grains
- Made from Scottish Spalted Beech, hand processed by the same people who make it
- Each piece is unique
- 10 inches long
- Made in Scotland from local materials
- As much of a piece of art as a functional tool
- Clearly defined handle
- Natural wax finish to make it smooth but still grippable
- A little expensive but worth the investment for such a beautifully crafted item
Nostepinne Yarn Winder
A nostepinne made from a choice of oak, red cedar, and ammonia fumed oak. These unique items come in lovely color variations. Created by Derek Grieve of Muddy Duck Workshop, a one-person small woodworking business in the USA.
- Handmade, whittled and sanded all by hand
- Available in three different kinds of wood, Oak, Fumed Oak, and Eastern Red Cedar.
- 11 inches long
- Made in the USA with local woods
- Price includes free shipping in the US
- Made to order
- Lightweight and very smooth
- A little more expensive than the other options available, but worth it.
FAQs About Nostepinnes
What Is A Nostepinne?
A nostepinne is a carved piece of wood in the shape of a curved, short stick that looks like a thick bobbin. Before the invention of yarn winders as we know them today, this was the tool our ancestors used to wind yarn into a center-pull yarn cake.
The word nostepinne comes from the Scandinavian word meaning “nest stick.” It’s also known as a nostepinde or nøstepinde. They’re usually about 10-12 inches long. It’s not uncommon for them to be ornately carved or decorated. A lot of them are made by hand too.
It’s divided into three parts, the handle, shaft, and the slit at the top. The handle is where you hold it, the shaft is where you wrap the yarn. The slit is for securing the thread before winding.
Another version of the hand yarn winder resembled a thin, long bobbin in the shape of a cross. There’s evidence of it being used in the 1500s, when it was depicted in a religious painting of the Madonna by Leonardo Da Vinci.
How Do You Use Nostepinne?
Here is a list of step-by-step instructions on how to use this ancient method of winding yarn. Your ancestors probably did this, so a little history for you as you do it!
- Prepare the hank for winding. (If you’re using a skein or ball, don’t worry about this step.) Untwist the hank and remove any of the scrap yarn ties that prevent it from tangling.
- Untwist it completely, so it’s a ring of yarn, and place the ring around something to stop it turning into a yarn monster 🙂 The back of a chair is a good option. Or a willing person’s outstretched arms!
- Hold the end of the yarn in one hand and the nostepinne in the other.
- Place the yarn through the groove at the top of the handle. Loop some of the yarn around it. Make sure the last of these loops is an upside-down one to prevent it from slipping when you’re winding.
- Take the yarn down to the middle of the stick and begin creating the core. Wrap the yarn continuously side by side along 1.5” of the shaft.
- Make sure you don’t wind too tightly as this can stretch the yarn.
- Now you’re ready to begin winding the rest of the cake.
- It’s recommended you do the winding with your dominant hand and hold the stick in your other hand.
- Take the thread diagonally and put it back towards the other side. Wrap it around the shaft for a half wrap and take the yarn back to the other end. Repeat that step, but reversed.
- Continue this process about 8 to 10 times.
- To make the cake evenly and make sure it will sit flat when finished, continue the outlined pattern. You’ll need to add more wraps in different directions, so it becomes more solid.
- If you want to make it grow lengthwise after you’ve completed a cycle of wrapping, wrap it once around the stick. Create another cycle from that angle.
- When you’re finished, slide the yarn cake off the nostepinne.
- Tada, your first wound cake is ready!
Here are some important things to remember when you’re using a nostepinne.
- Be patient with yourself. It’s going to feel very strange at first, but with time and practice, it becomes easier.
- Once you’ve mastered this method, experiment with the method of wrapping the yarn to see what feels most comfortable.
- Remember these aren’t definite rules. Feel free to change as necessary to make it better for you.
Using a Nostepinne to Wind Two Styles of Center-Pull Balls of Yarn
For visual learners or people who prefer to learn new hands-on skills with videos, here is an excellent tutorial by Andrea of Mielke’s Fiber Arts, LLC. In this short and informative tutorial, she shows you how to create two different styles of center pull yarn balls.
Should You Roll A Skein Of Yarn Into A Ball?
It’s not strictly necessary to roll a skein of yarn into a ball. If you prefer working from yarn cakes, it’s best to wind them first. But you can work straight from a skein if that’s what you prefer.
How Do You Wind Yarn Without A Ball Winder?
There are a few methods you can use to do wind yarn without a ball winder. Here are a few options to consider.
- Use an inner toilet cardboard roll and wrap the yarn around that.
- Buy or make a nostepinne and use that.
- Use no tools but your hands and the back of a chair to hold the ring of yarn. Follow the instructions for one such method here.
Nostepinne are beautiful reminders of the past. A chance to slow down, relax, and enjoy the process of winding yarn. Hopefully, you learned something new today, or this post helped you learn how to use it. Did these recommendations help you find one to suit your preferences?
Have you ever heard of these before, or have you been using one for quite some time? Are you considering one now you’ve read this post? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
- Möller, Emil. “Leonardo’s Madonna with the Yarn Winder.” The Burlington Magazine for Connoisseurs 49, no. 281 (1926): 61-69.
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