Her Handspun Habit: 3 Reasons to Reskein Your Handspun on a Niddy-Noddy

With bated breath, we tie off our newly skeined handspun, carefully slide it off the niddy-noddy, and marvel at its beauty. After a little wash and time to dry, we consider our skein of handspun yarn completed. But is it really finished? That depends on who you ask, but industry insiders will tell you that technically speaking, you should reskein your yarn before you consider it complete.

You might not have known this, or if you did, you might’ve just skipped it—I’ll admit that until recently, taking time to reskein my handspun yarn was a final step I simply chose to ignore. But then I did my own testing, and I discovered why I do need to reskein, and just how much time that actually takes.

niddy noddy

Handspun sample before I took the time to reskein.


1. It All Came Out in the Wash

Wet finishing causes an organic shifting within the yarn itself; that’s why we do it. Soaking the skein allows the individual fibers to open up, relax, and resettle into their more natural crimp. When dry, handspun yarn often looks fuller and feels softer. You might also find that your hank loses a touch of twist and some length. After all of these changes, you might want to reskein.

2. Fresh Skein, Wonky Loops

Along these same lines, the yarn’s relaxing and resettling will likely cause your once carefully tensioned loops (wound onto your niddy-noddy or skein winder) to look less perfect once dry. Does it really matter? That’s up to you. If you’re selling handspun or entering a fiber-related competition, then yup, it sure does. Both customers and judges deserve your best efforts at skeining—and so do you. After all the energy and time you’ve put into your handspun, why not take that last step and avoid points off in scoring? In this case, taking time to reskein could mean all the difference in taking home a ribbon and prize money.

3. Better Now Than Later

Some shorter fibers, as well as purposely fulled skeins of yarn, have a tendency toward self-stickiness upon drying. If you’ve spun a fine, fulled yarn, for example, and don’t intend to use it right away, it might be easier to reskein now rather than after it has languished in the bottom of a basket.

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Handspun sample after reskeining—wonderful!


So, how long does all this rewinding and reskeining take? Depending on my level of focus and the yardage of the yarn, it takes me about twenty minutes.

First I wind a cake using a ball winder and swift, and then I reskein that cake onto my niddy-noddy. Depending on your yardage and other factors, your results will vary, but probably not by more than a few moments. I recommend trying it out for yourself, at least a couple of times. There are certainly rewards to be gained from the investment.

Will I reskein all of my handspun going forward? Probably not all of it, though the fact that it makes for a far prettier finished photo is indeed compelling. (We all have our vices.)


Featured Image: Go from this, to this! Photos by Deborah Held.

Fine Tune Your Handspun


  1. Anonymous at 6:49 pm September 14, 2018

    If you already have a skein winder and a niddy noddy, is there any reason not to go right from the the skein winder to the niddy noddy – skipping the winding it to a cake step?

  2. Anonymous at 9:35 am September 17, 2018

    . . . or put it on a swift, and re-wind it on the niddy noddy?

    • Anonymous at 7:57 am September 19, 2018

      No reason whatsoever! If you have that setup, go for it. (I envy your skein winder.)

  3. Anonymous at 12:34 pm September 17, 2018

    I usually reskein and when I do I always make a (even slightly) different size skein to that which was used for dying. This moves and blends the colours in wonderful subtle ways, apart from making a tidier skein as that is now what you are focusing on. I don’t have a niddy noddy but do have several swifts so it is easy to just spin from one to the other.
    If I’ve dyed on a long painted skein measured out on warping posts then the difference in the overall appearance from the colour shifts is amazing, but here I will wind into a cake first then back to a skein. Be careful doing this because unless you wind off the side of the cake (so the cake is turning) you are adding or removing twist depending on which way up the cake is.

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