Have you ever heard of weighing your yarn? If not (or if you have but have no idea why you would ever want or need to do this), then this blog post is for you! Weighing yarn helps you to know how many grams your current ball of yarn weighs (whether it be a full, unused skein or a partial skein). With this knowledge, you can estimate how much yardage you have and that can come in handy in lots of different circumstances. In this blog post I’ll talk about what these circumstances are and how exactly you weigh the yarn and make the calculations.
Here are some common circumstances where knowing the exact grams (and thus, knowing the yardage), can come in handy.
There are many more situations where a scale comes in handy with knitting, but these are three examples that I think you’ll find especially handy…
Reason #1: Do I have enough leftover yarn for another project?
If you have leftover partial skeins/balls from a previous project and you want to know how much yardage you have leftover, you can weigh your leftover in grams and then convert that to yards. Let’s say you’ve knit a sweater and you only used up a bit of the last skein of yarn to finish it up. There seems like enough of the skein is still left that you could use it for another project, but knowing the yardage amount will let you know for sure. Keep reading to learn how to make that grams to yards conversion!
Reason #2: Do I have enough yarn to finish my project?
Let’s say you’re happily knitting away on the body of a sweater. You’re on the last ball of yarn and, as you progress, that ball of yarn gets smaller and smaller and you get nervous – will I have enough to finish?? In this circumstance, you can weigh your yarn before you start a row (or a sequence), weigh it after you finish the row (or sequence), and then you’ll know how many grams you are using up in 1 row (or sequence). With this knowledge, you can estimate how many total rows you’ll be able to knit before you run out of yarn (and if you need to go ahead and purchase an emergency extra skein!). With this example, just keep in mind that if you are increasing (or decreasing) stitches in each row (like in a shawl), you’ll want to keep that in mind as you estimate how much you’ll need to finish.
Reason #3: How much yarn did I actually use for this project?
If you weren’t keeping track of how much skeins of yarn you used for a particular project and would like to know after the fact (either for future reference, to make note on your Ravelry project page, or because you are a test knitter for a new design), you can weigh your finished, final piece. By knowing how many grams your project weighs, you can then divide that number by the number of grams in each of the skeins you used in your project (this information is on the yarn label or online), and this will tell you how many skeins you used.
For example, my sweater above (Azalea) weighs approx. 325 grams. The yarn I used (Manos del Uruguay Feliz) comes in 100 gram skeins, so that means my scale is telling me I used 3 full skeins and about 1/4 of a 4th skein (so about 3.25 skeins). When I double-check this against the yardage listed in the pattern for the size I made, it definitely checks out! The yardage is listed as 1170 yds (for the size I made) and each skein has 350 yards, so 1170/350 = 3.3 skeins (so very close to what I got from weighing the garment!).
Now that I’ve outined some of the “why” of weighing yarn, let’s talk about the “how”…
What type of scale can you use?
I’ve used a variety of different small scales through the years. Often any kind of postage or kitchen scale will do the trick and there’s no need for anything too expensive. The key is that you can measure in grams and that the surface area is not too too small, and that it has a tare button so that you can use a bowl to put your yarn or project in if it doesn’t quite fit entirely on the surface area.
If you want the most accuracy then a scale that can measure in least in .1 gram would be a good idea (if you have that option when looking for scales). But if all you have is one that rounds to the nearest whole number, that can definitely work just fine as well for most circumstances. I’m often using a scale to just get an approximate gram amount and so the one I use just rounds it to the nearest whole number and that has worked well for me (and probably cost me under $15).
How to make the grams to yards conversion
So here’s the big question – how do you take the grams measurement and convert it to yards? Before you can make this conversion you’ll need to know the two pieces of information: 1) How many grams are in a full skein of that particular yarn; and 2) How many yards are in a full skein of that particular yarn. This information can usually be found on the yarn label, but if you no longer have it then you can just look up the yarn online.
Let’s say you have a leftover ball of Malabrigo Rios (a worsted-weight yarn), like in my picture above. I looked up the grams/yards in a full skein of this yarn and it’s 100 grams = 210 yards. I weigh the leftover ball and the scale says it’s 20 grams. Here is the calculation to figure out how many yards this approximately is:
Take 20 grams and multiple it by the total yards in a full skein of Malabrigo Rios (210 yards), and then divide this number by the total grams in a full skein of Malabrigo Rios (100 grams). So here it is in an equation:
So the leftover ball of Rios has approximately 42 yards left in it. Now of course this assumes that the full skein actually weighed exactly 100 grams as it’s supposed to, but sometimes that can be off by a few grams. So this 42 yards should be viewed as an approximate estimation. But it’s enough information to know about how much yarn you have and that can be super helpful information to know!
I hope this information about the why & how of weighing yarn has been helpful! And I hope it helps you to be able to reuse more of your leftover yarn or perhaps avoid running out of yarn in the future.