Monday, February 20, 2017

DIY Niddy Noddy

wool yarn reclaimed from thrift shop sweaters
before washing
Since I'm presenting a program at the March Fiber Guild meeting on reclaiming yarn from wool sweaters, I thought it would be a good idea to start gathering the items I'd need and deconstruct a sweater to refresh my mind.

I started reclaiming the wool in 2007 from wool sweaters that were purchased (some shown in this earlier post) in Denver thrift shops.

Once washed, the reclaimed wool could not be distinguished from that purchased in a yarn shop. Some of the wool I reclaimed can be seen in this post. The reclaimed wool has been used in a variety of projects for charities and for gifts.

Projects I made using reclaimed wool: 
    Vests for children in cold climates - here, here, here, here
    Cowls - here and here
    Hats and helmet liners for the military - herehere and here
    Christmas stockings   here and here
When I first started reclaiming wool, I tried every possible way to wind the wool into hanks so it could be washed. My first attempts were time-consuming, and I've since discovered that a niddy noddy can reduce the time investment considerably. What? You've never heard of a niddy noddy?

.5 inch PVC pipe
(4) 4.5 inch sections, (1) 12" section
(4) caps and (2) "T" sections
A wooden niddy noddy can be expense, so I made my niddy noddy for less than $5, and it took less time to assemble it than it took to purchase the components. The gentleman at ACE Hardware even cut the pipe to the specifications I found on this post.
three assembled sections of the niddy noddy
The center section is the one that determines the length of the hank and is interchangeable. I measured my swift and determined that I needed no larger than a 60" hank, so the center section of pipe is 12" in length.
forming a hank on a niddy noddy
note that one end is turned 90 degrees
The yarn will be crinkly and curly when it is raveled from the sweater. The niddy noddy provides just enough tension to create the hank length desired. At the four "legs" of the niddy noddy, the yarn will be secured with a figure-eight tie. This keeps the yarn from tangling when it is washed.

Directions on how to use the niddy noddy can be found here.
four-ounce hank of wool, reclaimed from one sweater sleeve.
The hank of yarn shown in this photo has been washed and the kinks have been removed. All of the yarn in the hank was reclaimed from one sleeve of the sweater. The yarn on the niddy noddy is from the sweater front and will be more than 4 ounces. The strand of yarn shows how kinky/curly it is after raveling. Soaking the wool in soapy, warm water for about 40 minutes removes most of the kinks. Do not agitate the wool while washing, rinse and gently squeeze the excess water from the wool. It can be spun in the washer (inside a mesh bag) to remove more water and to speed up drying time. Hand Wash and Line Dry only.

gauge can be determined before reclaiming yarn
It's a good idea to determine the gauge of the sweater before raveling all the pieces. From the gauge, I can also determine the approximate needle size - this knit was probably done with size 7 or 8 needles.


  1. Interesting. Sure hope we are home before the March meeting. Sounds like it will be very informative.

  2. Have you ever run into a reclaimed wool sweater that was not a continuous strand? I had read that some are sewn sided and the yarn is actually not one long piece. I wonder if there is a way to tell before you purchase it.

    It's sort of a moot point since I don't think I've ever seen a wool sweater in a thrift store here.

    1. Dee brings up a good point - look for seams that show the actual edges of the knitting, not ones that are serged. The sweaters with serged edges have been cut from a large piece of knitted fabric. Sweaters with crocheted seams are THE best for reclaiming yarn. Google "reclaiming wool from sweaters" and you'll find a lot of tips.

  3. So much great information. I gavemy Niddy Noddy to a friend because a I just wasn't using it. After your post, I'm kind of regretting that decision! :-)

  4. I've never heard of this - very clever!

  5. Nancy, Teacher, this is an amazing post. I WILL TRY THIS. I will have fireman make me a Niddy Noddy! Im excited about this!!!!!

  6. Great information.. Makes me want to have the hubby make me one...except I have at least 4 boxes of yarn in the studio....and I really have no reason to buy wool sweaters to use the yarn from... And when summer hits I really won't need wool anything. But I love the concept. Of course, I would need a swift too but...

  7. Wow, I am always learning something from you! Thank you Nancy for sharing your Niddy Noddy:)

  8. Wow Nancy, has anyone ever told you, You are a genius ? I'm wondering you mentioned you found out the needle size that was being used? do you guestamate and put a needle into a couple of loops or do you use the gauge some how? thanks again

  9. You should start a you tube page with all of your great ideas!!!


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