Fiber Fool

Follow the feats and foibles of a fiber fanatic.

How to Use a Nostepinne

Filed under: Knitting, Spinning, Dyeing, Tutorials — Kristi at 4:56 pm on Wednesday, January 10, 2007

It seemed there were a number of people who commented, e-mailed, or left Flickr comments yesterday that they thought my nostepinnes were beautiful but had no idea how to use one. So, today I took step-by-step photos (and a quick video) so I can show you how to use them.

If you don’t have one there are many substitute options. The cheapest and easiest option is to use an empty tube. This could be from paper towels, toilet paper, a cut down wrapping paper tube etc. I preferred the paper towel tubes because it gave me plenty of room to grip. Your mileage may vary. Others have just used good sized doweling from the local hardware store. If you have a DIY PVC pipe niddy noddy you could use one of the pieces from that as a nostepinne as well. Get creative!

For larger views of the following step-by-step photos please click on the image and you will be taken to Flickr. Some images have notes associated with them as well.

Step 1:

Step 1: If you are using a true nostepinne, make a slip knot in one end of your yarn. Keep the loop large enough that you can slip it over the nostepinne. If you are using a paper tube you can skip this step. Instead, make a small cut in the end of the tube and anchor the yarn in that cut. Put the end of the yarn to the inside of the tube in that case.

Step 2, Option 1: Step 2, Option 2:

Step 2: You have two options if you are using a true nostepinne. You can tighten the slip knot in the groove nearest the handle, or the one at the narrow tip. Some experienced nostepinne users skip the slip knot altogether and instead just keep it anchored in their hand holding the handle of the nostepinne. I prefer anchoring in the wider groove because then you are removing the yarn through the wider opening in the center pull ball. Also, right now I’m getting a much flatter face of the ball towards the narrow top of the nostepinne than I am getting at the wider end. That flat end helps the ball sit still and not roll away from you so it is good to pull the yarn from the end opposite of your flatest edge of your ball.

Step 3:

Step 3: Begin wrapping the yarn around the shaft of the nostepinne a bit closer to the handle than the tip. Wrap slightly loose so the yarn isn’t under too much tension and wrap perpendicular to the nostepinne. You can use your fingers to align the wraps neatly.

Step 4:

Step 4: Continue wrapping perpendicularly around the nostepinne shaft until you have 1-1.5 inches of wraps.

Optional Step 5:

Step 5 (Optional): If you are using particularly thin or slippery yarn (here I’m using fingering weight with a good silk content) you may wish to make a second layer of perpendicular wraps working your way back towards the handle end. It give you a bit more base for the yarn “hook” on when you wrap it.

Step 6:

Step 6: Now begin wrapping the yarn at a 45 degree angle to the nostepinne shaft.

Step 7:

Step 7: With each wrap turn the nostepinne slightly towards you so the next wrap is ~1/4 inch over. Continue until you are back near your very first 45 degree wrap.

Step 8:

Step 8: For the next pass of wraps, lay them right up against the previous round. They shouldn’t be right on top, but they should be quite close. This helps make the yarn ball more uniform. It takes practice so don’t get discouraged. Even ugly balls wrapped this way are easy to work from.

Step 9:

Step 9: Continue as in step 8. However, as the ball grows start catching the yarn on the edge of the forming ball rather than wrapping it up against the nostepinne shaft. This is what will help form the flat bottoms so the ball doesn’t roll. You want to catch it similarly on the bottom of the wrap as well.

To see the wrapping and turning in motion click below. Please excuse the lack of fluidity, but I had my arms wrapped around the tripod to make this video. A bit of a tricky maneuver to say the least.

Step 10a: Step 10b: Step 10c:

Step 10: Loosen the slip knot and gently slide the yarn ball off of the nostepinne.

Step 11:

Step 11: Here is the finished ball. Note how the yarn ball doesn’t automatically collapse into the center. If you are winding the ball and immediately working with it stop here.

Optional Step 12:

Step 12: If you are going to store the yarn balls for a while I recommend giving it a gentle squeeze in a few different places to encourage it to collapse slightly. This eases the tension on the yarn and is better for the yarn if it will be in storage. When stored under too much tension yarn looses its elasticity.

That’s it! It is that easy! I’m certainly not faster winding the yarn this way than the crank ball winder (yet), but the yarn is put under less tension and I don’t have to clamp a swift and a ball winder somewhere. Also, a nostepinne slips right into my luggage which means I can enjoy new yarn immediately while I’m traveling or at wool festivals!


Comment by Kara

January 10, 2007 @ 5:19 pm

haha…I am glad I wasn’t the only one who was nostepinne-clueless. Thanks for the tutorial!

Comment by Debi

January 10, 2007 @ 6:23 pm

I love my nosties!! Great tutorial Kristi!!

Comment by --Deb

January 10, 2007 @ 9:15 pm

Your nosti is beautiful. My balls never look very good, but it really is such an easy way to make a center-pull ball. Still, I have to admit, if I’m dealing with any real yardage, I much prefer my ball winder . . . otherwise, I have to stretch out the winding over several days out of sheer restlessness (grin).

Comment by terby

January 10, 2007 @ 9:21 pm

Great tutorial, Kristi!

Comment by Carole

January 10, 2007 @ 9:32 pm

You make it look quite simple!

Comment by Deborah Robson

January 10, 2007 @ 9:37 pm

Carole: It’s *very* simple. Try it. I bet you’ll like it!

Thanks for opening up the world of the nostepinne for a bunch more people, Kristi!

Comment by Sharon

January 10, 2007 @ 11:44 pm

How cool is that!

Comment by Hillary

January 11, 2007 @ 6:40 am

Great tutorial. I too was among the nosti-clueless. You make things look so easy.

Comment by Chris

January 11, 2007 @ 7:43 am

Thanks for the tutorial - I’ve always wondered about that.

Comment by AmyP

January 11, 2007 @ 10:08 am

Great tutorial - thanks. And good tip about improvisation. Really good for those of us who spent all our money on yarn and now have to use kitchen and toilet roll cardboard for eveything! :D

Comment by Cindy

January 11, 2007 @ 10:21 am

You are a fount of information. I have a lovely notespinne, but usually haul out the winder (sheer laziness). I think there’s something meditative about the process, though. Oh shoot. You’re making me re-evaluate. Cut it out:)

Comment by Rebekah

January 11, 2007 @ 11:02 am

Thanks for the great tutorial! I finally understand.

Comment by Stephanie

January 11, 2007 @ 5:35 pm

That’s awesome. Thanks for the wonderful tutorial.

Comment by Birdsong

January 12, 2007 @ 1:42 pm

You are so nice to take the time to produce such a thorough tutorial!

Comment by April Bangert

January 16, 2007 @ 11:12 pm

Kristi! Thank you!!! That was the best instruction I have seen online for that so far. It makes me wish I still had a noste…lol. I gave mine away in a swap as it looked so lonely and unloved. I shall have to get a new one now. Thanks for the hard work you put into that instructional!

Comment by Shana

January 20, 2007 @ 3:42 pm


Someone posted a link to your tutorial on Craftacular aims to become a central repository for tutorials, patterns, techniques and general crafty knowledge. With that as our mission, we’d like to make sure that all tutorials are hosted on our server, so that if the sites we link to go down, we don’t lose the tutorials. Would it be okay if I posted this directly on our site? Of course, you will still be credited as the author, and given a link back to your site.

Comment by Wanda

January 21, 2007 @ 12:06 pm

Thank you for the tutorial. I’ve never known how to use a nostepinne. When Estes rolls around this year, I may actually look for one.

Comment by The Purloined Letter

February 15, 2007 @ 11:48 am

Thanks for allowing me to post this on Yarnival!

Comment by Abigail

February 15, 2007 @ 2:03 pm

Reading via YARNIVAL

Wow, I absolutely love your tutorial!

I learned how to use a nostepinne a while ago, but my sources weren’t very easy to understand and I had many a messy ugly ball until I was able to figure out the motions on my own. How I wish that I had your tutorial and video when I was starting out!

(p.s. I use an old size 50 knitting needle for my nostepinne until the day I can convince somebody to buy me a beautiful wooden one like yours.)

Comment by Dorothy B

February 16, 2007 @ 12:06 pm

Awesome tutorial! Thank you for showing us how easy it really is.

Comment by Nora

February 16, 2007 @ 3:46 pm

Thanks, now I can stop using my thumb!

Comment by Marilyn

March 23, 2007 @ 1:20 am

Thank you for posting such a clear explanation of how to use a nostepinne. I used Google and I am grateful that your tutorial was there.

Pingback by Procraftinating my ass off » Blog Archive » Enjoying the view from my soap box

April 30, 2007 @ 5:42 pm

[…] You simply do a slip knot where the handle ends, and then wrap it straight for about and inch and a half before starting to go diagonally. Awesome picture tutorial can be found here. Another description on how to do it is available here. It’s tricky to do it right, and my hand still hurts from gripping it too tight! […]

Comment by Glaistig

July 3, 2007 @ 6:24 pm

Thanks for the instructions!

Comment by Becky

August 25, 2007 @ 12:03 pm

Thank you for posting a video - it helps so much to actually watch it being done. I haven’t been able to find good visuals anywhere else.


Comment by Nan the sock knitter

October 8, 2007 @ 11:20 am

Thanks for the great tutorial. I had just bought several skeins on-line and was wondering how to get them into center-pull balls. Perfect timing! I showed your video to my DH, he disappeared in the direction of his shop, and about an hour later I had my 1st nosty! Works great, I wound a couple of balls and I’m ready to start the next pair of socks (2 on 2 circs). Thanks again!

Pingback by I’m not Dead. « smallhawk in stitches

March 26, 2008 @ 8:01 am

[…] I have spent the last couple of days looking up cheaper alternatives to some of the things I have decided I need in knitting. Namely a ball winder and a swift. I feel that I found the perfect ball winder for myself and my current life. It’s a beautiful hand made Nostepinne . Not made by me, but ordered from someone else on etsy. Now, I am trying to be patient and wait for it to arrive in my mailbox, but it is difficult. I saw this great tutorial and knew it was just what I needed to save my thumb without hurting my wallet. Now, I just need a good alternative to a swift. So, I located three viable options but I’m pretty sure which one I really want to use. […]

Comment by Tanja

August 12, 2008 @ 2:30 am

Thank you so much for your instructions and video. I found you through the ‘Nosty Luv’ group on Ravelry. Your video helped me to finally wind a ball which doesn’t fall apart as soon as it’s off the nosty. Mwah!

Comment by susie

December 14, 2008 @ 11:15 am

Many years ago my sister taught me how to wind yarn balls on my thumb. I didn’t even know there was a tool for this but it turns out I had one in my collection of vintage sewing items. I thought it was a handmade glove darner. Thanks for the instruction!

Comment by Marsha

December 23, 2008 @ 11:06 am

Where did you get the Nostipenne I can’t seem to find one to buy like that looks with the grooves to tye the yarn how big is it

Comment by Sarah

December 23, 2008 @ 2:31 pm

Thank you! I found some instructions online and have been trying to get the hang of it, but the instructions were quite different from your simple method. I am gonna rip this ball out right now and start over your way! I found you via youtube…thanks for the video.

Pingback by Nostepinne - a knitter’s tool at An Exaltation of Larks

January 12, 2009 @ 6:34 pm

[…] Yes, a ball winder is faster, but a nostepinne is portable, and the natural wood feels very nice in the hand.  It is easy to use once you get used to it, and makes nice self-pulling balls, especially handy if you knit on the go, looping your ball onto a holder, then on your beltloop and knitting while you walk around.  You can only do this with a self-pulling ball. […]

Pingback by Yarn Maraca, Yarn Egg « doublepointed

March 9, 2009 @ 4:49 pm

[…] I am too poor for a ball winder and swift, so I recently got it in my head to buy a nostepinne. This one is walnut wood, handmade by Birch Creek Naturals, who are lovely. It fits perfectly in my hand and is a pleasure to work with. With the help of directions from Fiber Fool and Hatchtown Farm I was able to create, well, this: […]

Comment by Heidi

May 2, 2009 @ 10:46 pm

So now I’m regretting buying a ball winder and swift. Especially because the ball winder seems to be really crappy. sells nostepinnes and swifts, and i chose wrong, it would seem. I got the nostepinne confused with the niddy noddy. Silly me!

Comment by Ramona

May 22, 2009 @ 9:22 pm

This was an excellent tutorial. Thanks so much.

Comment by chris price

July 23, 2009 @ 12:47 am

This is the best tutorial for using the Nostepinne that I’ve seen. Thanks a bunch. I’m going to link to this if you don’t mind.

Comment by Lyne

August 10, 2009 @ 8:27 pm

Great demonstration, you make it look to easy. Your instructions are so much clearer than those I received with my Nostepinne. Thank you for your help.

Comment by Janne

September 14, 2009 @ 6:07 am

Thank you for this tutorial! I can’t afford a ball winder at this time, but this is a fantastic alternative for all my yarn recycling. I can’t wait to try it out.

Comment by Teal

September 14, 2009 @ 10:42 pm

Thank you so much for this great tutorial! I have been using a Noste for just a few months - have wound a total of 6 hanks into balls.

What I particularly find useful is the suggestion to build more than one row for the foundation before winding on the diagonal. My next project (they say the yarn is in the mail!!) will use a lace-weight cashmere-silk blend. I will use this new (to me) technique with gratitude.

Must say how impressed I am to see you winding without using finger and/or thumb to guide the process. I will have to work hard to progress to that level.

Thanks again. I found your site through a link on ravelry. Now I’ve bookmarked it.

Comment by Sinclair

October 13, 2009 @ 4:09 pm

I had never heard of this gadget, but I may have to invest in one. I usually don’t even bother to ball my yarn, but I might like to have the option.

Pingback by do stuff! » Halloween ‘09!

November 2, 2009 @ 2:51 pm

[…] When I got home, I wanted to try it out right away, of course!  So I found a nostepinne how-to on a blog (Fiber Fool), which I glanced over quickly then proceeded to not really follow the steps when I stepped away from the computer to try it out.  It was fun, but a bit of advice: when trying a new fiber winding technique for the first time, don’t use a freshly spun fuzzy alpaca single! […]

Comment by Amanda

January 1, 2010 @ 1:00 pm


Someone showed me once, but I’d forgotten how to do it!

I have a couple of Nostepinne, so next time I want a small centre pull ball, I’ll sit here in front of the computer and work along with you!

Pingback by “A Noste-whaat…?” « Seeking Equipoise

January 12, 2010 @ 9:00 am

[…] There is a little bit of a learning curve to using a nostepinne, but it is easy once you get the hang of it.  I could explain, but Fiber Fool has already done an excellent job of that, complete with pictures and a video, here. […]

Comment by Hannah

January 12, 2010 @ 9:04 am

Thanks for this great tutorial! I’ve linked to this post on my blog here:

Comment by heather

January 12, 2010 @ 1:46 pm

this tutorial is exactly what i needed, thank you for sharing!!

Comment by Elianastar

May 8, 2010 @ 9:25 pm

I just got a nostepinne earlier this week and this tutorial is, by far, the best I found to begin to master “mechanical ball winder” cakes of yarn! After I ordered my nostepinne, I searched for every blog/article/video I could find on the best way to use it. This is the one that covers it all the most clearly. By the time my order arrived, I was very familiar with the process and wound my first several balls reviewing this tutorial and the video.

I’ve only made four or five balls of left over yarn with a project I’ve been working on using a bunch of different colors, but I am VERY pleased with my progress so quickly! THANK you!

I’ve always enjoyed winding my balls by hand… it’s soothing and therapeutic, just like knitting itself, for me (more so, depending on the project!)… but I’ve envied those flat-bottomed-cakes from the mechanical winders. The ONLY reason I’ve considered investing in a machine winder has been the shape of the cakes they make. Now, I can make balls of yarn shaped just like them and not have to give up hand winding my yarn! The best of both worlds! :-)

(”Elianastar” on Ravelry and the Knit Picks Community.)

Comment by Kimberly

June 16, 2010 @ 11:06 am

Thanks for the tutorial. It was the first one I looked at, and now I can use the lovely Nostepinde I bought at a craft fair this weekend!

Pingback by Miss Jackson if You’re Nosty « molting yeti

July 3, 2010 @ 11:45 am

[…] Miss Jackson if You’re Nosty July 3, 2010 A crucial piece of the yarn ball winder has gone missing somewhere in MoltingYeti HQ – the cats probably found it and chased it under the couch. I know for a certainty that as soon as I spring for a new winder the missing part will resurface, so I’ve been boning up on my nostepinne skills instead. A nostepinne or “nosty” is basically just a fancy tapered stick you use to wind center-pull skeins by hand. There’s a great tutorial on how to wind them here  on the FiberFool blog. Etsy plug – I got my Nosty from ThreadsThruTime, and I love it. olive cotton candy anyone? […]

Pingback by Bubo Sweater (No, not like the plague) « The Knit Life

July 28, 2010 @ 9:12 am

[…] I had a portion of a skein already balled up that was yet unused in the long forgotten crochet project and I’ve already nearly used it up so I’m now ripping the crochet project to reuse the yarn {no one can say I’m not green} And thanks to finally learning to use my nostepinne, [INSTRUCTIONS] I’m making center pull balls that aren’t tighter in the center than being between a rock and a hard place…  {When ever I think the word ‘nostepinne, I say it in my head as if I were Lidia Bastianich visiting with family in the homeland…  Should I have just admitted that?  Perhaps not.} […]

Pingback by My Creative Space: Make a Nostepinne | The C Side

August 18, 2010 @ 5:35 pm

[…] I found this blog which explains the process of winding using a nostepinne in pictures and a video. […]

Comment by RobinKR

August 19, 2010 @ 8:33 pm

FF - Thanks for this information! I’ve been using a papertowel core and can definitely use some of your technique to make my yarns cakes better. Now i also may need to get a ‘real’ Nostipinne! : )

Pingback by Nostepinne « Izznit

August 28, 2010 @ 11:05 pm

[…] I read rave reviews about nostepinnes and the yarn cakes they help produce. I wanted to see what all the fuss was about! I didn’t have a nostepinne on hand so I grabbed a toilet paper roll which I heard worked just as well. I used this tutorial and started winding! […]

Comment by Tricia M. Ward

September 19, 2010 @ 12:33 am

Thank you so much for an excellent tutorial! I looked at several others online, but until I found yours, I couldn’t get the hang of it. Thanks very much for your help.

Pingback by Dye Day 2010 « Unravelling Argyle

October 21, 2010 @ 2:12 pm

[…] I think that means I either need a nostepinne to better control the 1 sock/1 ball creation (I finally broke down and rewound around a thick pen which I’m hoping will give me enough space to center-pull), or a second ball winder so that I can create two identical balls at once. […]

Comment by MEG

February 11, 2011 @ 1:53 pm

Thank you for a clear set of directions to use this Nostepinne Yarn Ball Winder that I just purchased on eBay!

Comment by Rick

March 2, 2011 @ 12:20 pm

Thanx for the great write-up with photos, Miss Kristi.

Yours was the first website Yahoo brought up and I went no further. I intend to make a Nostepinne for my new-spinning wife [she just got a Rose] and I had not the slightest idea what one looked like or even what it was used for.

During my much younger kite-flying days, we used that method to wind the kite string around a dowel…the motion of turning the Nostepinne [dowel] in the fingers while winding comes naturally to me.

I have printed one of your fine, hi-def photos to design my working sample. This is my second effort making spinning accessories [my first was a sitt] and I am using some exotic woods for eye-appeal and unique-ness.

Thanks again.

Comment by Sparrow

March 14, 2011 @ 10:40 am

LOL I didn’t know that there was a tool for this! I have been using my spurtle for years for the same purpose as it is a bit tapered on one end so the yarn ball slides off more easily when I am done.

Pingback by cakes (no, not that kind….) | play with string

July 17, 2011 @ 12:18 pm

[…] The other day, I was reading about nostepinnes over on Ravelry, and became curious about how they worked. I read further, and then checked some local shops to see if these wooden gadgets were sold nearby. A couple of places did have one or two, but they were a bit expensive, and so I decided to see what alternatives people had tried. It turned out that a number of people had used various easily obtained items, like the cardboard rolls from paper towels, pens and fat markers, and wooden spoons. I gave it a try, and found that a marker was too slippery for me to get the yarn wound onto, and that a wooden spoon or pen was too narrow for me to easily manipulate. Since I had no paper towel rolls handy, I took a piece of scrap paper and rolled it into a tight tube and taped it shut. Following the excellent instructions shown on Fiber Fool (which I found via Nøsty Luv, Ravelry’s nostepinne discussion group) I was able to wind a decent cake of yarn after just a couple of false starts. […]

Comment by Trix

August 30, 2011 @ 7:12 am

Thanks for your clear instructions. I have lots of skeins of wool from learning to spin, and now have started to wind them into nice center pull balls using your instructions, and the nostepinne I nagged by husband to make for me.

Comment by Anne Finch

March 9, 2012 @ 3:49 pm

What a fantastic piece of magic!
I bought one on ebay and had no idea
untill I saw your video.

Comment by Alice Campbell

April 21, 2012 @ 3:23 pm

I have a nosti my husband made from a piece of dowelling, and I use an elastic band to anchor the yard while winding. I can then use the elastic to hold the outside of the centre pull ball together and keep it from unwinding in my knitting bag

Comment by aelle

July 19, 2012 @ 6:54 am

Thanks for this, I’d never heard of this before, didn’t know I could wind my own cool balls like that. I happened to have a plastic ring sizer and it works great. It’s long, so I wind near the end. It’s fun, too, kind of zen.

Comment by Donna

July 30, 2013 @ 11:54 am

I am looking for a nostepinne like you have in your photos and video. Where can I get one? Thanks!

Pingback by WIP Wednesday + Hair Brush Nostepinne | chez lysa

September 1, 2013 @ 9:01 pm

[…] Without a ball winder and swift, I was getting rather bored of draping my yarn over a chair, my knees, my boyfriend, and then winding endless yards around my thumb as I usually do. Instead, winding the third color skein into a center pull ball today, I improvised a nostepinne out of my hair brush.My brushtepinne gets bonus points for smelling like coconut too.Of course, now I see that I am not the only one turning an object lying around the house into an object with yarn wrapped around it. You can also make a center pull ball using a knitting needle or a thread spool. This entry was posted in Crafts and tagged Knitting by chezlysa. Bookmark the permalink. […]

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a comment

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>