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Buying Enough Yarn for Your Sweater

Buying Enough Yarn for Your Sweater

This week on the Bellish Blog we’re sharing our best tips for buying enough yarn for your sweater and how to determine if you should calculate your yarn according to yardage or balls.

You’ve probably noticed that some knitting patterns tell you the number of balls (or skeins) of yarn you’ll need to complete the project, while others provide the suggested yardage or meterage. It’s not unusual to see it both ways, and there’s a reason for each one. Keep reading to learn more!

Many knitting patterns are produced or sponsored by yarn companies to inspire knitters to use the recommended yarn for their projects. In these instances, the pattern is written for one specific yarn and - in order to make it easy for their customers - these projects will often suggest the number of balls or skeins needed per project. This makes it easy to select your yarn without having to do the math on your own.

However, not every pattern is designed for only one specific brand or style of yarn, and not every yarn – even if it’s in the same weight class – has the same number of yards/meters per ball. For example, let’s say your pattern suggests 6 balls of yarn for your size. Depending on the number of yards per ball, the result can vary depending on which yarn you choose:

Yarn A: Worsted Weight (#4) 220 yards in each 100 gram ball (220 yards x 6 balls = 1320 yards)

Yarn B: Worsted Weight (#4) 200 yards in each 100 gram ball (200 yards x 6 balls = 1200 yards)

Yarn C: Worsted Weight (#4) 190 yards in each 100 gram ball (190 yards x 6 balls = 1140 yards)

If the pattern was written for Yarn A, but you select Yarn C, the result is a difference of 180 yards between them (almost a whole extra ball of yarn). But if you know the number of yards you need you can grab that extra ball of yarn so you’ll have enough. 

How do you figure out how much yarn to buy if the pattern tells you yardage instead of the number of balls? Here’s a quick example:

  • Your pattern says you’ll need 1350 yards of worsted weight yarn.
  • Look at the yarn label to see how many yards are in 1 ball. In this example, we’ll say that each ball has 200 yards. 
  • Take the total number of yards you’ll need (1350) and divide that by the number of yards in each ball (200). 1350/200 = 6.75 balls. This means you’ll need 7 balls of that yarn to have enough for your project.

Should you buy extra yarn?

Knitting patterns generally include enough yarn for your project and to knit a swatch or two, but if you’re at all worried about running out of yarn, buy an extra skein to be safe. This is especially true if you think it might be hard to find that same yarn again later, or if you tend to add length or customizations to your projects. 

One of the keys to knitting success is having enough yarn to finish the job; knowing how to use yardage to your advantage can help.

Check out the Bellish free sweater pattern generator for your next knitting project!

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