Discovering New Tools

One of my favorite things to do when visiting local yarn shops is looking through all of the notions and tools. I'm a sucker for a new tool or a new color of stitch marker, or, as I recently discovered, temporary tattoos with a knitting theme!

A ball-winding tool called a Nøstepinde

A while ago I discovered a new-to-me tool for winding center pull balls. It's called a nøstepinde, and it's a beautiful, simple tool. As I mentioned, you use it to wind center pull balls, which are my preferred yarn balls to knit from. After winding a ball with a nøstepinde, the center end of the yarn comes out easily without pulling along that big mess of a tangle that I always seem to get. After winding a yarn with a nøstepinde, you get a lovely ball that closely resembles a commercial ball of yarn, but it's better.

I came across an article about nøstepindes in an old issue of Interweave Knits (fall 1997!), which is though you would find as interesting as I did.

A What? A Nøstepinde. A What?

So what is a nøstepinde? In Scandinavian languages, anøste, ornösta, is a ball of string or yarn. Pinde, pinna, or pinne, (all pronounced like "pinafore") mean little stick. Nøstepinde = a yarn-winding stick.

In past centuries, young men whittled nøstepinder for their sweethearts. On farms in Jutland, mountains of yarn skeins were changed to balls by hired girls winding busily on nøstepinder in the dark edges of light from the fire.

Today, most nøstepindes are turned on lathes and associated with twined knitting. Twined knitting's Swedish name, tvåändssticking, or "two-ends' knitting," refers to the two ends of any ball of yarn; the ends are knit alternately with a half-twist between stitches.

Two ends? How? The end on the inside of the ball is pretty inaccessible. We've all stuck an index finger into a machine-wound ball and pulled out a twenty-foot tangle which sometimes includes an end. The nøstepinde solves this problem. It's a tool for winding a ball with an easily accessible inside end.


While you can substitute the handle of a wooden spoon, a dowel, or even a mechanical yarn winder, there's something special about a handmade tool smoothed to silky perfection. There's pleasure in the winding, in watching each turn of yarn lay up against the turn before, over and over again, ending with a handsome ball of yarn.

I saw my first nøstepinde in Fredericia, Jutland, while visiting Danish knitting historian Ann Moller Nielsen. I bought a brand new nøstepinde the next morning, and on the way back to my in-laws' home in Copenhagen, I rewound all the yarn I had with me. Twice.

At first I wound slowly, laboriously copying the instructions Ann had given me. Then I realized the tool was like a thumb that I could rotate 360-plus degrees. The yarn flew, the ball began to form as if by magic into something wonderful, each turn laid perfectly beside the one before it.

When I got home to Maine, I rewound all my yarn scraps. I fell in love with winding yarn! I finally remembered that children can't wear balls of yarn and began knitting again. Eight years later, I too have a well-used, lovely oak nøstepinde polished by lanolin and years of use.

Nøstepinder are now standard equipment and regularly sell out at knitting fairs. Simple tools are, after all, the best. And if they're handmade by someone who cares, so much the better.

—Robin Hansen, from Interweave Knits, Fall 1997

There are so many oldies but goodies in these early issues of Interweave Knits. Lots of the patterns remain fashionable (ignore the hairstyles, though!), and the how-to-knit and knitting-technique articles are top-notch. Check them out in the Interweave Knits 1996–1997 Collection download from the Knitting Daily Shop.


P.S. Do you have a favorite knitting tool? Share it with us in the comments!

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