Tying a 2-Yard Skein

Spinners often wonder is there a "right" way to tie a skein? Follow these steps for tangle-free hanks of handspun.

Pat Noah Nov 19, 2020 - 4 min read

Tying a 2-Yard Skein Primary Image

Is there a "right" way to tie a skein? Photos by Joe Coca

I’m often asked, “What is the proper way to tie a skein?” It is a good question—because a properly tied skein helps avoid tangles and frustration when you process the yarn to set the twist.

After you have spun and plied your singles, you need to take your yarn off the bobbin or spindle and make it into a skein. A niddy-noddy simplifies skein-making. Niddy-noddies are designed to produce different sizes of skeins—the most common size makes a 2-yard skein.

If you are going to enter your yarn into a skein competition, most judges prefer a 2-yard skein tied in several places to secure it. You can make figureeight ties out of the same yarn as the skein or use a contrasting color yarn to make the ties easier to find. It has been my experience that this does not make a difference to most judges as long as the ties are neat and all one type of yarn. After tying the skein, trim the ends of the ties to about 1 inch.

Step 1

Wind the yarn on the niddy-noddy following the path shown here. Measure the length of the yarn as it goes around one time and that will tell you what size niddy-noddy you have. Measure the yarn as tensioned on the niddy-noddy, and be aware that changing the tension as you wind will affect the actual yardage.

Step 2

To start making your skein, hold onto one end of your yarn and then begin winding it onto the niddy-noddy.

Step 3

When you come to the end of the yarn, tie it to the beginning of the yarn with a bow tie.

Step 4



Left to right and top to bottom: Before taking the yarn off the niddy-noddy, space four figure-eight ties (with a square or overhand knot) evenly around the skein. Select the section of the skein to be tied, divide it in half, and weave the tying yarn around, through the center, back around, and through the center again, making a figure-eight shape. If you want to dye the yarn later, do not make these ties so tight that they prevent the dye from completely saturating the yarn. If you have wound a very fine or slick yarn (such as silk), you may need six or eight ties. If you have wound a thick skein, you may need longer ties to weave two or three figure eights through the skein.

Step 5

Remove the skein from the niddy-noddy.

After retirement and learning to spin from Maggie Casey, Pat Noah of Gill, Colorado, has been involved in many spinning activities.

This article was published in the Fall 2007 issue of Spin Off.