One 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.
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.
Wikipedia 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
The 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”.
In 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.
Some 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.
The 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.
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!!