How many of your knitting conversations (with yourself, your knitting friends, your local yarn shop) contain the question, “How much yarn do I need?” At best, until you make a swatch you cannot know. You need that yarn. Do you need how much yarn the pattern says, or do you need some other amount?
How Much Yarn
This week I had a question on an old blog post. I love people who ask questions. I mean, how else am I going to know what you need to know? This question asked was so up the alley I’ve been visiting lately! I will answer it here.
If I can’t achieve row gauge – is there a method to calculate how much additional yarn will be required…
So glad you asked Christine, because there is a way!
There are a couple of ways, but depending on where you are in the process you may need to rely on one over the other. This will help almost all of you, and you can also find links to things I have written or done that are similar, linked at the end of this post. So how much yarn will you need?
How Much Yarn If You “Can’t Achieve” Gauge?
Let’s say you know that your row gauge is always tighter than usual. When a pattern row gauge is 6 rows to the inch, you might get 6.25 rows/in. For many things it is easy to figure out adding length, because the pattern will tell you to “work to X” / cm or to the desired length from the cast on.” But, that isn’t the question that was asked. It is specific to yarn requirements.
Let’s try a more specific example:
If 6 rows/in is 100% or 1 (using one just eliminates some zeros — and gets you to the same place), then how much yarn do you need if you get 6.25 rows/in. Use my favorite cross-multiply and divide to get a relationship between the two gauges.
Multiply 6.25×1, then divide the result by the original gauge of 6 to get 1.0416666 or 104.2%.
If you were making something that called for 250 yards then you need 104.2% of 250. 250/100 = X/104.2. Cross-multiply and divide results in 260.5 yards.
Done with other numbers: 6 rows in pattern, your row gauge is 7.5.
Same 250 yards using 125% results is 312.5 yards.
How much yarn will you need without knowing what your gauge difference will be?
Or, I’m looking at my stash and wondering if I have enough . . . ?
So our two examples are quite different. One was 10.5 yards, and the other was 62.5 yards difference. You can track how close your row gauge is in projects you work. Likely you will begin to notice a trend:
- Always just part of a row off (large or small),
- On gauge, or
- Never even close.
You will need to adjust what you anticipate using based on this trend:
- When you are always slightly off (0.04%) you can always get 5% more (or less!) yarn.
- If you are on gauge, you know what to buy.
- Your gauge is always not close, then you should look at buying 25% or so more (or less!).
Look at a project using 50g (1.75oz) skeins that have 140 yds (128 m) that needs 250 yards.
2 skeins will yield 280 yards. 280/X = 250/1.
- That is 1.12, so likely you’ll make it if your difference is 0.04.
- The yardage called for.
- 112% isn’t going to work where you are apt to be 25% off.
That same project using five mini skeins of 86 yards per 1 oz skein. How many of those skeins will you need?
- If you are likely to need 5% more you will need 262.5 yards. That will mean you need a little more than 3 full skeins.
- The yardage called for.
- At 25% more or 312.5 yards, it is 3.6 skeins.
How Much Actually Used
Either way, you probably need that third skein. This is why I include the actual amount of yarn used in my sample, at the gauge I call out. Then you can run some numbers and see what might turn out differently for you. Plus, it is very specific instead of generalizations, which the skein numbers or yardage are likely to be. I do not usually knit my samples. My knitters can match my stitch gauge, but rarely my row gauge.
How Much Calculator
Because I love doing these, I have created a little calculator for you. You have to buy it (it is free) from my website, but it will allow you to run these numbers as often and for as many yarns as you like.
How Much Calculator
Good intentions prevented me from posting to my blog since early March. Almost mid-April, and I can’t imagine what else would be standing in my way!
I always lack time, and I’ve been doing a lot lately. Not usually what I should have been doing; if this surprises you, you haven’t been paying attention. I get carried away on tides of interest, and everything else falls by the way side. Compound this with the pandemic, having some adverse side effects from my estrogen blocker (are there good side effects?), and just doing the same thing day in, and day out, and I’m guilty of following my bliss instead of my intentions.
But time is a huge factor for me right now. This is what it took to put this blog post together:
- First draft of a blog post? 60 minutes
- How much time to create the calculator? 30 minutes (of which 15 is trying to protect the sheet!)
- How much time to create/find graphics? 20 minutes
- How much time to edit? 1 hour
- Time spent spinning my wheels or doing other things. 30 minutes
- Creating product page. 30 minutes
- Adding links. 15 minutes
- Creating a video. 30 minutes
- Checking everything. 2 hours
- Lyon and Lyon Traboules is a Möbius cowl pattern with a calculator to help you create it in any gauge, and any size. It costs $2 through the end of April 2021 (worth about $20).
- French Quarter Tank has a calculator for adjusting waist or bust shaping. $18 for a single pattern in 7 sizes (obviously, adjustable).
- Yarn Remainder Finder will help you see how much yarn you have left.
- Sleeve Length Calculator will help you adjust the rate of increase (or decrease) on the underarm.
- Positano and Steps to Positano is another möbius cowl in Super Bulky with a with a calculator to help you create it in any gauge, and any size. It costs $10 (worth about $20).
- Almost Plaid is a scarf. I can’t even remember what this calculator does. Here is the pattern.