Metal Collapsible Niddy-Noddy

Ever walked into a yarn store and gazed longingly at those coiled hanks of brightly-colored yarn, perplexed as to how they got into such bundles? Enter the niddy-noddy! These tools (shaped like a capital 'I' but with the short arms perpendicular to one another) are used by hand-spinners and home yarn-dying operations to:
-Obtain approximate yardage of the yarn
-Prepare handspun yarn for finishing and dying
-Create a large loop of yarn that can then be twisted into a hank for easy storage or display

A little bit industrial-primitive, a little bit steampunk, a whole lotta awesome: this niddy-noddy was designed to stand out in the crowd of wooden and PVC niddys.  All parts were sourced from your average big box hardware and craft stores, with the exception of the leather scraps and gate hooks (which were left over from a long-since-forgotten project).  Total cost was roughly $30 (but that includes enough material to may two niddy-noddy bodies and three pairs of arms).

This Instructable assumes that you have general mechanic competence and know the basics of niddy-noddy design and use.

(Qty x Item)
1 x Aluminum tube (square), 1" x 1" x 3'
1 x Aluminum (flat), 1/8" x 1-1/4" x 3'
1 bag (6 pcs/bag) x Machine screws, #6-32 x 1-1/2"
1 bag (6 pcs/bag) x Cap nut, #6-32
1 bag (30 pcs/bag) x Washer, #6
1 bag (5 pcs/bag) x Cotter pin, 1/8" x 3/4"
2 bags (2 pcs/bag) x Nylon spacer, 1" long, 1/4" OD (cut into eight ~3/8" lengths)
2 x Small gate hooks (1" total length)
8 x Metal grommets
Scraps of leather

Pencil and paper
Utility knife
Glue (water-soluble)
Hack saw
Metal files
Sand paper
Drill press (or hand drill) and assorted drill bits

Step 1: Arms

1a: Using paper, pencil, ruler, and compass, draw and cut out four guides in the shapes of the arms (two right arms and two left arms - they are not exactly identical).

1b: Glue the guides to the flat aluminum stock.

1c: Cut arms to size, cut and file the teeth, cut and file yarn notches, and drill holes.

Step 2: Body

2a: Cut the square tubing to size and mark arm slots.  (NB: Remember that arm slots at one end of the niddy-noddy will be perpendicular to the arm slots at the opposite end.)  Drill a row of closely-spaced holes along the center line.  Mark and drill holes for the machine screws that will anchor the arms.

2b: File arm slots to size, ensuring the arms can clear the tubing sides.

Step 3: Dressing the Ends

3a: Mark and cut two leather pieces to reinforce the niddy-noddy arms and cover the latch mechanism.

3b: Apply grommets according to package directions.

Step 4: Latch Mechanism

4a: For one pair of arms, insert a plain cotter pin into one arm and a cotter pin attached to a hook into the other arm.  Repeat for the second pair of arms.

4b: Bend and trim the cotter pins to secure them once in position.

Step 5: Assembly

Attach one arm to the body a machine screw. 

Long version: Place a washer on one machine screw.  Slide the screw through one grommet on a leather piece.  Insert the machine screw partially through one of the holes on the square tubing.  Slide one nylon spacer over the machine screw.  Insert the arm through the slot in the side of the tubing and line up the hole with the machine screw.  Place the second nylon spacer between the arm and the other side of the tubing and push the machine screw through (it should be pretty snug - needle-nose pliers help).  Fold the leather over the top of the tubing and slide the opposite grommet over the machine screw.  Secure with a cap nut.  Repeat with remaining arms, making sure to align the teeth appropriately.

Step 6: Finishing Touches

Give all of the edges a thorough buffing with fine-grit sand paper to remove anything that might snag the yarn.  Clean off any grit or metal dust that may have accumulated and admire your fine niddy-noddy.

Step 7: Using Your Collapsible Niddy-Noddy

7a: To use, raise the arms and latch into place by securing the hook over the cotter pin.  Cover with the leather cap and secure in place with a cap nut.  Repeat for other end.

7b: To remove a hank of yarn, reverse the above steps.

7c: Unscrew the cap nuts and lift leather flap.

7d: Lift hook and lower arms to release the tension on the wrapped yarn.



    • Organization Contest

      Organization Contest
    • Paper Contest

      Paper Contest
    • Warm and Fuzzy Contest

      Warm and Fuzzy Contest

    10 Discussions


    7 years ago on Introduction

    It would be nice if you mentioned, in the introduction, what a niddy-noddy is, and what it's for, rather than leaving folk to work it out from the hints in the last step.

    3 replies

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks for the feedback! I originally was only intending this to be used by hand-spinners and knitters already familiar with niddy-noddy design, but it is rather poor form to be so exclusive. I have included a brief description in the introduction.


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Cool - there might have been somebody who knew what they needed, but didn't know what it was called, maybe to make as a gift for a friend.


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    I have added a brief description to the introduction that may edify you. Thanks for your feedback!


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Why not make it from wood in the same way - Much cheaper and for this application just as durable.

    PS never heard of this before so +1 for Kitemans observations.

    1 reply

    I agree - wood would be much easier on the wallet and require less elbow grease during construction. I used metal partly because I've never seen a metal niddy, and also because I designed this for a steampunk swap on Ravelry (the Facebook of the knitting/crocheting community), so I wanted the more industrial aesthetic that metal provides. My design evolved during construction and has strayed from its steampunk roots, but it is sure to be well-loved by its recipient.