For a number of years now one of the most used items in my knitting toolkit has been my nostepinne:
It’s a very beautiful piece of wood designed for winding centre-pull balls of yarn. As a lot of the yarn I use arrives in skeins I find my nostepinne invaluable. I do have a mechanical ball winder — the kind that clamps to a ledge and has a winding handle. Although with this I can create yarn balls much more quickly than with my nostepinne, I much prefer the balls I wind with my nostepinne. Because they are wound around a much narrower object they are much less prone to collapse as the yarn gets used up.
Centre-pull yarn balls are wonderful! Typically I sit and knit with my yarn ball gently clamped between my knees, giving me a steady supply of yarn with no tugging or rolling around getting dirty on the floor. They make knitting much more portable too - with a centre-pull ball nestling next to me in my project bag, I can knit almost anywhere. This is ancient wisdom by the way; for maximum portability Nordic knitters of old used to fasten their centre-pull balls to their shoulder with a gilli-hook, and the knitters of Yorkshire’s past used to fasten their ‘bump’ (yarn) to their belt in a ‘clue’.
Nostepinnes come in lots of different woods and designs. A simple search in Google Images brings up a delightful feast for the eyes of beautifully crafted nostepinnes, here. There are also many common objects in a knitter’s environment that can be substituted for a properly fashioned nostepinne. Here are a few items from around my house. From bottom to top they include a DPN tube (contains double-pointed sock needles), a fat pencil, a wooden spoon (hold the bowl end in your hand and wind onto the handle), and five weaving pirns from some of the historic textile mills in my native West Riding of Yorkshire.
Of course, a nostepinne is only any good once you’ve learned how to use it. I learned this from the wonderful Freyalyn during a twined knitting workshop she taught a few years ago. As you may not have access in person to similarly skilled friends, I’ve recorded a little demo for you. Though I wind left-handed, I’ve flipped the video to show the right-handed method. If you’re left-handed you’ll find the original video here in my YouTube channel.
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