New Hampshire Glossary: Niddy Noddy

Two hundred years ago, every self-respecting New Hampshire woman

used a niddy-noddy, or at the very least she knew what it was.

Niddy-noddy – a wooden device used while hand-spinning to measure the length of newly spun thread or yarn.  One full winding around the niddy-noddy equaled two yards.


While using this device, to keep track of the length, this rhyme was often recited:
Niddy-noddy, niddy-noddy,
Two heads, one body,
‘Tis one, ‘taint one,
‘Twill be one, bye and bye.
‘Tis two, ‘taint two,
‘Twill be two, bye and bye

According to folklore, “niddy” comes from a nickname for grandmother, who would often spend a lot of time knitting.  “Noddy” may refer to how the grandmother would often “nod off” (or fall asleep) while thus occupied. More probably the term “noddy” comes from the way the tool moved when used–the person winding the yarn would dip or nod the cross bars with an elbow-wrist movement.


Further Reading

– New Hampshire Glossary –
– As the Yarn Turns: How to Construct a Niddy Noddy [using PVC]-
Interactive Activity: Niddy-Noddy – [movie shows how a Niddy Noddy is used]
– What does a Niddy Noddy Do? –
Using a Niddy-noddy –
Making A Skein with a Niddy-Noddy

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