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Spinning in Scandinavia with Silja Devine : Nostepinner and Spaelsau Fleece Giveaway!

by SiljaD on April 21, 2014

NF.1914-0390One thing I really like to do when I am about to make something from my hand spun yarns, is to wind the yarn into a center pull ball using a nostepinne. When you spin yarns, you ”touch” the fiber, singles and plies several times during the process and after setting the twist in hand spuns they often find their true form and even out or “bloom”. Using a nostepinne to wind the yarn by hand into a center pull ball makes me touch and see every little bit of the yarn I have spun and I can feel all the imperfections that makes a hand spun yarn the lovely thing it is. Taking the time to add this step into the process makes me appreciate the work I have put into the spinning even more. I can easily get a better idea on how the yarn will behave in my knitting than when I am using a mechanical ball winder.

NF.1913-1009

 

Before I go into the historic part of this, I want to give you some tips on where to find information on how to use a nostepinne. As usual Google and YouTube are your friends! Search for “nostepinne” or winding yarn on a “nostepinne”. When doing some research I also came over this written tutorial with tips and tricks from Memphis Fiberarts.

NF.1911-1532ABWikipedia says that The nostepinne, also known as a nostepinde or nøstepinde, is a tool used in the fiber arts to wind yarn, often yarn that has been hand spun, into a ball for easily knitting, crocheting, or weaving from. In its simplest form, it is a dowel, generally between 10 and 12 inches long and most frequently made of wood, around which yarn can be wound. Decoratively and ornately carved nostepinnes are common. The top of the nostepinne sometimes incorporates a notch or a groove, which allows one end of the yarn to be held secure while the rest is wound into a ball

 

NF.1899-0231The word “Nostepinne” has originated from Scandinavia and in Norway, it is actually called ”Nøstepinne” where the “ø” is pronounced like the “u” in the word “hurt”. In Sweden, it is often called ”Nystepinne”.

FYB.00609In Norway, nostepinner have a long tradition and have had more that one purpose during history. Nostepinner were often given away as gifts:  the first woman to step into the barn after the woodcarving had started just over Christmas or the first woman who came in to the barn after the logging had started just over Christmas got a nostepinne. Nostepinner were also very much used as an engagement present, or for the boy to let the girl know he was interested. The more ornate the nostepinne was, the better the craftsman the boy was. Many nostepinner have been carved out and have a few small wood balls inside the shaft.  This was a hard task to do and only the really good woodcarvers accomplished this because they had really good knowledge on how the wood behave and how to tweak it. These nostepinner were also often used as rattles for babies, and some stories also say that these kind of nostepinner were used by the housemaids because the sound from the balls inside the nostepinne would tell if the maids took more breaks than they should.

NF.1906-0211Some of the nostepinner that were given as engagement presents also had a carved lock on the end. Often these locks had the girl’s initials on two sides and the year on the other two sides. The boy’s initials were often carved into the top of the nostepinne.

NF.1922-0237The yarn balls that were made on nostepinner came out as center pull balls, and the women often had a “nostekrok” attached to the lining of their skirts where they hang the yarn ball for easy carrying when knitting on the go.

OB.Y4187All pictures used in this article are from Digitalt museum and are released with a creative common license. Other contributing sites to this article are WikiStrinda and Marta I farta.

Hopefully I have inspired some of you to try winding your handspun yarns on a nostepinne!

 

And just because spring has arrived in my part of Norway, I want to share some spring goodies with you! This freshly shorn spaelsau fleece is from a sheep that is only shorn once a year.  Spaelsau is a true Norwegian rare breed that has a double coat. Leave a comment by 5:00 PM EST on Sunday April 27th on this post to be entered into the random drawing for 100 grams of raw Norwegian Spaelsau fleece!  Best of luck to all!!

Photo 14.04.14 12 21 15

 

{ 79 comments… read them below or add one }

Cindy dell April 21, 2014 at 9:07 am

Love reading about the history!

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Kathy Kemp April 21, 2014 at 9:19 am

Wow, thanks for writing about this! Very interesting! (I’m a costumer, so also love all the little historical tidbits.) :)

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Ann Marie MacKay April 21, 2014 at 9:23 am

Thank your for this great information–and the opportunity to win some lovely fleece!

:)

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Nancy Gould April 21, 2014 at 9:30 am

Thanks for writing about the history, I have been wondering! I enjoy winding even commercial yarns on the nostepinne, and sell quite a few of them in my wool shop. When people see a demonstration, they love it, it’s such a peaceful way to begin your project. A nostepinne works better than any other ball winder for slippery yarns and superwash wool.

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Robyn April 21, 2014 at 9:39 am

I love the nostepinne, glad you gave this amazing little tool some attention.

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Kjirstine Prickett April 21, 2014 at 9:41 am

Thank you for posting this! Being a spinner of Norwegian heritage, I would love to learn more of the Scandinavian spinning tradition. I will master my nostepinne :-)

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Jinny McKenzie April 21, 2014 at 9:46 am

Great article and such gorgeous nostes!

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Kari April 21, 2014 at 11:12 am

Yes! I do agree, great article and our nøstepinnes is gorgeous! I have learned to use them, at least. And some weeks ago, I made nøstepinnes with my scouts. I asked a lot of grown ups, but they didn´t know what it was. Even my knitting friend didn´t know! So it´s too sad, we may loose our history! And this is a nice tool to use everyday and expecially when you don`t bother taking your wool winder with you.

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Susie April 21, 2014 at 10:12 am

Thanks for the great article. I just started to spin. :) I would love to spin and would enjoy trying this wool. Thanks.

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Kim Garver April 21, 2014 at 10:20 am

Thank you for sharing, I really enjoy the history of tools and the significance of each… I use this method when I have no ball winder, never thought to use with my homespun yarns after they are set. I will, now. Have a wonderful day, enjoy….

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Laurie April 21, 2014 at 10:22 am

I love the birdcage style of noste!! Thanks for the interesting history lesson!

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christine hart April 21, 2014 at 11:14 am

Thanks for the information about the traditions associated with nosepiece. I love mine and use it all the time. I find winding the balls by hand is very relaxing, and like you, it gives me a feel of what the yarn is going to be like to knit

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Dovile April 21, 2014 at 11:17 am

The antique nostepinnes look so decorative that I’d be afraid to use them:)

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Patty Johnson April 21, 2014 at 12:12 pm

When I found out the heritage I had to get a nostepinne! I love winding my yarn this way.

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virginia April 21, 2014 at 12:21 pm

Am eager to try using , thank you for enlightening!

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Aileen Sitero April 21, 2014 at 12:23 pm

Such an interesting post, thank you!

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Margaret M April 21, 2014 at 12:52 pm

The pictures are beautiful and make me want to try winding a ball by hand.

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susan April 21, 2014 at 2:35 pm

Such a wonderful blog! I appreciated what you say about looking at every inch of your yarn while winding it up, as a beginner, I am especially thrilled to do just that. Every inch is different and a work of art with the free spun yarn, and I love that quality. I found the information you shared about the nostepinnes intriguing, as I’ve seen them here and there, but had not yet investigated them. The word always made me think of a medieval nose gadget 😀 !! OH MY! so funny. Now I will have to look for one, as I’ve always been curious about how to make center pull yarn balls. I’ve wound plenty of yarn balls, and enjoy the process, but the tail, always on the outside. Such a pretty tool as well, Thank you!

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Carol April 21, 2014 at 5:52 pm

I love the learning about the history of fiber and all the various tools. The fleece looks gorgeous. Thanks for a great blog post.

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Rumpleknitspin April 21, 2014 at 8:34 pm

Wow this was such a cool article, I received one recently in a goodie bag and have been unable to work out how to get such a pretty looking ball. Thanks for the great article!

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Kyla L April 21, 2014 at 11:25 pm

Some of those nostepinnes are works of arts. I just started spinning and I’ve never considered that winding by hand would help me understand how my yarn will behave when I knit it. I will have to try it with my next yarn.

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Cass April 22, 2014 at 1:50 am

I adore my nostepinne and much prefer its little yarn packets to balls from a winder. More personal, less industrial. I have trouble remembering the name, though ;-). I’d love to know more about the spaelsau sheep, too.

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Jane April 22, 2014 at 4:12 am

Very interesting info with lovely tradition. I would like to see a video of these in use. And to win the beautiful fleece would be such a treat. Thank you for sharing.

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Carolyn Ramos April 22, 2014 at 7:54 am

Love the nostepinne details, especially the one with the balls inside.
Hope to get one from Bristlecone Arts!

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Ruthie Kyle April 22, 2014 at 9:29 am

Fascinating history! I was taught at my first spindle class how to use one! Now shopping for my first wheel! I am obsessed with learning all about spinning beautiful art yarns!

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Claudia April 22, 2014 at 9:39 am

Loved the history of the nostapinner. Thank you for the video link on how to wind a good ball. I spin because I love the imperfections, which give personality to the yarn. I use my handspun when I weave. It gives great texture to a fabric.

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Tara April 22, 2014 at 10:38 am

Those hand carved nostepinnes are amazing! Thanks so much for an interesting article, and a great opportunity to win a fleece breed which has intrigued me for a while now!

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Ellen April 22, 2014 at 10:45 am

As a new spinner I found this not only informative, the article was practical. Thank you for sharing: I didn’t know anything about nostepinne.

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Greta April 22, 2014 at 11:00 am

As a mostly Norwegian-American, I feel connected to my family’s history when I’m knitting and spinning. I would LOVE the chance to work with the Spaelsau fleece!

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Edith April 22, 2014 at 12:13 pm

Learning to use a nostepinne has been on my to-do list for a long time. Your article has just reminded me why!

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Sarah April 22, 2014 at 12:27 pm

I would love to try that special fleece!

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Lisa Belfield April 22, 2014 at 4:50 pm

I have often wondered how to use these. Now, thanks to your great article, I know what to look for when I purchase one! Thank you

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Taneli April 22, 2014 at 5:18 pm

Thank you for this visually informing article I love wood carving

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Donna C April 22, 2014 at 6:17 pm

I lived learning about the history of a tool that has been almost forgotten. Let’s bring it back!

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Annette April 22, 2014 at 7:28 pm

I, too, am of Norwegian stock. Loved learning some of my heritage. I have my great, great, and probably, at least another great, grandmothers handmade spinning wheel. Would love to spin some genuine Norwegian wool!

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Betsy April 22, 2014 at 9:11 pm

I am saving up to go to Norway in summer 2015 to visit my college roommate who is a professor in Tromso. Wouldn’t I love to spin Norwegian wool and take her something knit from it! At least now I can start dreaming of getting some of my own when I am there. Maybe a nostepinne too!

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Jessie Follett April 23, 2014 at 9:50 am

I loved the photos of the old ball winders. They are neat!

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Stefanie April 23, 2014 at 10:58 am

Thanks for such and interesting post AND the chance to win this incredible-sounding fleece! I would absolutely love to give it a try!

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Helen Hart April 23, 2014 at 10:59 am

Thanks for the wonderful historical info on the um nos–can’t pronounce it either:) But have one so will practice on it. Thank you, would adore some of your precious wool. Always interested in different breeds.

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Christina Coghill April 23, 2014 at 1:13 pm

OMG, those noste’s are awesome. I have never touched Spaelsau wool.

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Aimee April 23, 2014 at 1:46 pm

According to wikipedia, Spaelsa fleece was used in Viking sails! How cool is that?
Thanks for an interesting article.

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Angela April 23, 2014 at 4:32 pm

Great information and that fleece looks lovely.

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Serena April 23, 2014 at 5:24 pm

Gorgeous nostepinnes! I asked my 85-year-old grandpa to make me one (he was a carpenter). He is the best grandpa ever, and he bought a lathe specifically to do it. It’s awesome.

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Margaret April 24, 2014 at 9:06 am

I love all the old tools- they are worn because they have been used, and loved, and passed on….

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Sandy April 24, 2014 at 9:12 am

Very interesting article. The history behind our tools is a fascinating one, but sometimes obscure as “women’s work” often is not recorded. The carved nostepinne are beautiful works of art.

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Natalie Canfield April 24, 2014 at 11:08 am

I love spinning rare breed wools. It would be fun to try Spælsau.

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Michelle April 24, 2014 at 12:43 pm

I have used a nostepinne and love the center pull balls I make with it. And what a fascinating history they have! I am very happy to have found SpinArtiste! Keep the information coming please!

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Mare F April 24, 2014 at 2:02 pm

Thank you for the history. They are lovely and so is the fleece.

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Deborah April 24, 2014 at 2:31 pm

Thanks for such and interesting article. :)

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Juliann April 24, 2014 at 2:50 pm

Just today I saw a nostekrok on someone’s picture. They did not call it that, but thought they had created something new and unique. It was hanging from a belt loop on their pants. I have been spinning for almost forty years, and just in the last five have been trying out some heritage breeds that are somewhat rare. I haven’t tried this fleece. Thanks for the chance to throw my hat in the ring.

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Majella Kerr April 24, 2014 at 3:10 pm

Were these used across Europe or just around Norway? It looks like a very good way to wind the yarn and as you said really know your yarn. I know when I wind a ball it goes just as fast as I can crank it. Thank you for giving away the fleece. Are nostepinners readily available from fiber shops?

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Kitty April 24, 2014 at 3:17 pm

Wonderful article. Would love to work with the fleece.

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Lynn April 24, 2014 at 4:41 pm

What beautiful nostepinnes!! Thanks for the bit of history and the photos.

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asteride April 24, 2014 at 4:51 pm

How beautiful! I really enjoyed reading this! I learned to use a nostepinne from several videos on the net but these ones are truly precious.

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Michele Perry April 24, 2014 at 4:53 pm

Thank you for the informative article. I often feel like a throw back to my great grandmother’s time since she was the last spinner in the family until me. I would love to try the spaelsau fleece. I do have a few nostepinne, but my favorite is the one my Dad made for me.

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Evelyn April 24, 2014 at 5:09 pm

Great article. The history and craftsmanship for the nostepinne are amazing.

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Kim April 24, 2014 at 5:45 pm

Thank you for sharing the history behind the tool. I don’t own a nostepinne, but now I will search for a beauty to use with my handspun. I do love touching my creations so this is perfect news!

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Sharla Hunt April 24, 2014 at 5:52 pm

I loved reading this article! How fascinating! I want a Nostepeinne now! Beautiful pictures too!

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De-De April 24, 2014 at 6:35 pm

What a lovely article on nostepinner! I really loved all the pictures. I’d never seen such decorative ones before. Thanks so much! The Spaelsau intrigues me. It’s a fleece I’ve not yet met in my journey to spin as many types of fleece as I can find. If I don’t win, I’m going to have to be on the hunt for some.

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Myra April 24, 2014 at 7:08 pm

The nosetepines are amazing works of art in themselves…so celtic looking. Assuming the ball would rest in the hook of the nostekrok. Cool how things are devised to meet a need. I love being resourceful creating new ways to make a thing easier to manage. The wool of this breed (wonder what that word is in English) looks so soft and sounds luscious with an undercoat…! Thank you!

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Naomi April 24, 2014 at 10:01 pm

Great article! I love hearing about the history of our craft.

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Chris April 24, 2014 at 10:27 pm

Beautiful piece of equipment! Can not wait until I can purchase one and try it out.
The sheep looks like it has wonderful fiber.

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Melanie April 24, 2014 at 10:53 pm

Thank you so much for all the great history and the pictures. What a great site.

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Lisa April 24, 2014 at 11:23 pm

I have a lovely friend who is Norwegian. She sent some Spaelsau fleece to me some 15 years ago. I would love to work with it again! If you are reading this post, Anne, I miss you!

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kathryn April 25, 2014 at 6:13 am

I can’t believe I haven’t used a nostepinne before this. Its definitely going on my list. Thanks for a great article! I’d love to spin spelsau wool, my first weaving was done in Norway using spelsau weaving yarn and the pieces are still in use decades later!

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Cathy April 25, 2014 at 9:01 am

Wonderful article! I really enjoyed learning about the history of the nostepinne

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Celia April 25, 2014 at 9:45 am

What a gorgeous nostepinne. I’ve never seen one so elaborate. I just use my thumb since I don’t have one! Thanks for giving the history and the Swedish and Norwegian terms, too. And the fleece is lovely, I’m very intrigued!

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LindaR April 25, 2014 at 5:48 pm

This was fascinating. Thank you for sharing. And thank you for the opportunity to (maybe!) try some new wool to spin!

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sharon April 26, 2014 at 9:39 am

Beautiful nostepinnes and great information !!!

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Melisa April 26, 2014 at 1:33 pm

I liked reading about the history and seeing the very ornate carvings. love the idea of the balls inside the handle. way cool.

Melisa

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Brenda April 27, 2014 at 12:16 am

The history of the Nostepinne is fascinating. I really did not know the history of this until reading this article.

Brenda

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Laurie in Maine April 27, 2014 at 2:57 am

Sitting here with my new hand carders finger picking and carding a very old fleece given to me. Enjoying the process of learning! Using such a wonderful work of art to wind handspun would be an experience to treasure.

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Tracy H April 27, 2014 at 6:55 am

Thank you for sharing the historical information. This makes me want to purchase a nostepinne and hand wind my spun yarn. Very cool.

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agatha April 27, 2014 at 11:09 am

Very interesting history! I love learning the backgrounds and histories of this wonderful world we call Fiber. Thanks :)

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Dora Romanelli April 29, 2014 at 5:14 pm

As a beginner in fibers, I did have the chance to buy a nostepine from the girl who sold me my (chinese) Hiya Hiya circular needles… because it so happens that she was living in France , but was born in Iceland !
Reading about Majacraft’s circular loom (from New-Zealand !), via The Fibery Good and Woolwench (from New Zealand via Holland)… I ended up on your website !
The fiber world is a small world ! and I (a Mauritian girl from Chinese grand-parents, with an Italian-French husband…) would have been so happy to be the one to test that rare Norwegian fiber…

Too bad ! The date is over… but I couln’t resist sending a little Thank You word anyway for the info on the Nostepine… cos’ I did use it the wrong way round the very first time !

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Ann May 16, 2014 at 1:53 am

Pretty fleece!! It looks so cushy!

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Sara Martin May 19, 2014 at 5:21 pm

The nostepinnes are beautiful and are far more in keeping with winding some lovely handspun yarn than a plastic turny handle thing. Thanks for your great article about them. I’ll be looking on youtube to find out more.

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Carol Palmer August 31, 2016 at 1:07 am

Hi,
I am a Montessori Elementary teacher and I am currently writing a resource book for other teachers to help them include more handwork in their curriculum. Whilst in my dreams this resource will eventually be the go to book for all Montessori teacher worldwide (you have to dream big, right?!) I am not truly expecting it to make any commercial gains, beyond perhaps covering its cost. I have written lessons on the history of many aspects of processing wool and came across you blog post whilst researching nostepinner. As your style is very much in line with my other stories, I wondered if I might use your words, with some minor adjustment I would be happy to credit you in any way you like. Please let me know if this would be okay with you,

Thanks so much,

Carol

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The SpinArtiste October 30, 2016 at 4:19 pm

Yes, Carol, that would be awesome!

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