If you’re anything like me, you have a lot of partially-used skeins (or balls or cakes) of yarn lying around. So you’ve probably found yourself in a situation where you think you have enough yarn to make a particular pattern, but even though you can weigh the partial skein to find out how many ounces are left, your pattern only lists required yardage.
What’s a girl (or guy) to do?
Luckily, this is a pretty easy thing to figure out once you know the equation. It’s the same equation I used to teach you to how to figure out the yardage of a finished product (read that blog post here), except we’re just changing out some of the information we need to plug in.
All you need is your partial skein(s), a calculator, a scale that weighs in ounces or grams (a food scale or a postage scale will work), and the information on the label of the skein you used (or if you’re like me and threw it away long ago, you can look up the yarn’s stats on the company’s web site). Using the diagram below, follow the directions to quickly find your answer. (If you aren’t a fellow math nerd, don’t let the diagram scare you away. Just follow the directions. It’s easy, I promise.)
So, let’s walk through this with an example. I’ll use a partial skein I have right here with me. It’s Lion Brand’s LB Collection Superwash Merino (a #3 light yarn). I’ve just finished designing a new pattern with it (coming soon), and I have quite a bit left, so I’d like to know if there is enough for me to make a pair of Comfy Squares Boot Cuffs, which calls for 160 yards of #3 light yarn.
Step 1: Fill in the info for the pink and blue boxes. According to my food scale, the partial skein weighs 1.6 oz, so I’ll plug that into the pink box on the bottom left. I also have the skein’s label right in front of me, which tells me that one full skein has 306 total yards (pink box on the top right), and it weighs 3.5oz (blue box). (If I didn’t have the label, again, I would look up the yarn on the company’s web site.)
Here’s what I have so far:
Step 2: Multiply the numbers in the pink boxes together. 1.6 x 306 = 489.6
Step 3: Take the total from step 2, and divide it by the number in the blue box. 489.6 / 3.5 = 139.9
Step 4: My total yardage for the partial skein is about 140 yards! Unfortunately, that’s not enough for the boot cuff pattern. So instead, I’ll probably wrap a blank sheet of paper around the skein and write the yardage right on that piece of paper so I’ll know for next time.
Easy peasy, lemon squeezy (as my 5 year old would say)!
Oh, this will be so handy, Thank you.
I was just thinking about this very thing today! Thank you for providing the answer.
Do NOT believe the weight on the ball band!! I’ve found that very few never-used balls/cakes/skeins/hanks of yarn ever weigh what the ball band says. Most are overweight; some are a tad underweight. So, feel free to lose the ball band, just remember to keep track of the weight of the yarn before and again after using it. It’s a lot easier to do now that accurate digital scales can be had on Amazon. Back before the internet, I used to bring my odd balls of yarn to the supermarket – Tuesday mornings were best, not many customers – and ask if I could weigh them on the digital scales they had just installed in the deli-meats section. They looked at me funny, but let me play anyway. 😉
Haha yes, this is definitely true. But, the yardage vs. weight on the LABEL should be accurate, and that’s all we care about for this equation. Whether or not the full skein you’re looking at is missing a few of those yards isn’t an issue (at least for this trick).
Thanks, Rebecca, very helpful. Could have used this a few weeks back. Ordered some yarn, cause I wasn’t sure I had enough and before it arrived I finished the item! Turns out I had enough after all.
This is the best thing ever! I’ve always just guessed on the amount of yarn I’ve had left and luckily I’ve had enough to finish a certain project… but this is something I will definitely do in the future! Thanks so much.
Wow, wow, wow! This is so amazingly helpful! Thank you so much for posting this!!
First I really like your patterns, I did the All Access pass. I do have a question, do you have any tips for slouchy hats if I want to use a lighter weight yarn than your pattern calls for? Hats are new to me so I am figuring out how to adjust the pattern.
Thank you so much
Switching to a different yarn weight will mean reworking the pattern because it will take more stitches to cover the same ground. It would be different for every hat. 🙂
Love this – so logical when you think about it – thank you!
Love the information on your site.
Thanks for this awesome info. I’ve always struggled with this. I can’t believe I didn’t remember how to use ratios.
Thank you for shedding light and offering a good solution to this problem.
We all have a bunch of adds and ends of yarn, but we can only think of the
use of color pattern knitting or stripes, when it doesn’t matter if we run out
of any of the colors. But this way one can actually plan a project with the leftover ball of yarn. I saved your site, so I can see what other things you will come up.
This is such an excellent tip! It is also making me remember to save the wrappers around the yarn! I have so many skeins that are RH with no wrapper, but at least they are all pretty much the same kind of yarn, so any skein should tell me the original # of yardage, etc. I know yardage differs from colors to multi color in the RH line too. Love your patterns.
This is a great tip – BUT! It’s not going to help in a situation in which I find myself.
I was given three large blanket boxes full of yarn….most of the skeins therein had NO labels. There is a yarn which I figure is probably lace weight which had been wound into ‘cakes’ – if I were going to guess, I’d say it’s probably a wool (feels like) and there are two largish ‘cakes’, center pull ready to go – but I have NO idea how many yards – nor where to find a yarn matching this. I would not be able to judge from online photos if something is the same….
So still no way to guesstimate how much yarn I have. I had thought it would be beautiful made up as your hooded vest pattern…but once started, if I don’t have enough, I’d be stuck with no way to match exactly. It’s not a solid – looks like a hand-dyed type yarn as the dye is unevenly absorbed so creates “shading” in color. quite pretty and made into a small swatch I really like the color effect. But it does not frog easily, since the “fuzz” tends to tangle within the stitches.
Is there any other way to figure out at least approximately how much I might have?
Thanks for all you share with all of us…This site is a true “gold mine” of tips and patterns….and you need to know that it IS truly appreciated!
In your case, I would take a ruler (or better yet, a yardstick) and wind it around to find out how much was left. That’s about your only option :/
This is what I do: (full yards / full weight) x remaining weight = remaining yards.
(306 / 3.5) x 1.6 = remaining yards
87.43 x 1.6 = 139.9
Love your patterns, right now having a strong relationship with the sc-hdc pattern. Great granddaughter coming in February!