Lewis Carroll Was Here: Diz, niddy noddy, and other crazy spinning words.

I’ve just fallen down a rabbit hole. The SPINNING rabbit hole.  It’s a crazy, wonderful obsession, made even crazier and more wonderful by all the flavorful terminology that spinners use.

Say these words with me. Say them out loud. And try not to crack a grin when you do.

Not to mention the odd names for parts of the spinning wheel. Words like “treadle” and “tension knob” seem pretty normal and descriptive. But…maidens? Mother of all? Footman? Are we in the court of the Queen of Hearts?

Image from http://www.JoyofHandspinning.com
A. Fly Wheel   B. Drive Band  C. Flyer 
D. Flyer Whorl   E. Maidens   F. Mother-Of-All
G. Tension Knob  H. Bobbin   I. Treadle 
J. Footman  K. Orifice 

For goodness sake, it’s as if we spinners hired Lewis Carroll to name our crafting tools.

Now there’s an idea…

Lewis Carroll was famous for coining fabulous new words and portmanteau words.  Here are a few of his words, selected at random. If these were crafting terms, what would they refer to? Are they tools? What do those tools look like?

“This is the oddest drop spindle I ever saw,” said Alice.

I’ll go first:

Bandersnatch A colloquial term for the fast “take up” action of bobbin-lead system. Pressure on the treadle gets the drive band going so quickly that the bobbin literally snatches the fiber out of your hand.


Ok, now it’s your turn.

Post your definitions or descriptions in the comments. Or feel free to come up with  your own terms.

  • Gimble
  • Mimsy
  • Snicker-snack
  • Tulgey



  1. Q – I really have to work on my bandersnatch! There’s been a lot of that going around! I LOVE words. This is another laugh-out-loud post.

    gimble – thimble used on the drafting thumb to prevent blisters when using rough fiber

    snicker-snack – those darn pieces of “junk” that get caught in the fiber as you are doing an until-then-beautiful-job of drafting.

    tulgey – the very ugly tug given to the fiber while trying to draft that actually breaks the fiber so it has to be reattached.

    mimsy – the little “puff out” of fiber that one sometimes gets where new fiber has been attached.

  2. snicker-snack could be my new curse word. As in “Snicker-snack, I have to rip out this row again!”

    She looks at her favorite furball.

    “What say you, Mimsy?” 🙂

  3. ‘mimsy’ could be a ‘mindful whimsy’ – as when related to all the patterns I’d still like to knit, or, maybe even better, to yarn purchases; the kind you make with no specific pattern in mind just yet ( but will of course ‘need’ sometime ) 😉

  4. I think gimble could be the special thimble you have to wear when you’re temporarily a “gimp” (injured) and wouldn’t otherwise be able to spin. Not sure one of those actually exists yet, but it should.

    Snicker-snack sounds like the song of the wheel to me.

  5. Brilliant post! Can’t believe I hadn’t put Caroll and spinning together before – they just work so well. Put a smile on my face for this evening. Wish I could come up with some witty possibilities, but spinning is still too much of a mystery to me, lol.

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