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Hello PatriciaH53, yes I am in America. We also buy our skeins in balls/skeins/cakes, that are labeled with this information as well. The situations in which you use the Niddy Noddy is for when you spin your own yarn and thus need to determine the length ( this is the most common use for a Niddy Noddy) you have scrap yarn with which you have used some of it and want to know how much is left, or you were gifted yarn that has no label (which has happened to me a few times).
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A swift is what is used to help wind a skein into a ball. You see them a lot in yarn stores and they look kind of like thisIf you are just starting out with any yarn craft, I encourage you to visit your local yarn shop. I am sure the people who work there would be more than happy to help you with any of your questions :) and don't be scared of the Knitting Needles, they are fun to use and there is so much you can do with them :)
You are also correct. In the yarn store I worked at a majority of our yarn was in Skein form with only a few in "ball" form (they really looked like doughnuts) but as to the amount of stretch in "cake" form, I can not say. I have personally stored my yarn in both forms.
Good Question Lorddrake. You are correct, it is easier to work from a ball instead of a skein and a ball does tangle less. However, I have received yarn from stores and presents that are neither a skein or a ball or I have acquired yarn that I did not know the length for. This is where the Niddy Noddy comes in, you can wind it into a skein and know the length of the yarn you have. Also if you want to use a Swift to help you wind a ball of yarn, it needs to be in skein form.
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