Determining Yarn Yardage from an Unlabeled Skein

Yarn yardage calculator method to determine length of yarn from an unlabeled skein in knitting.It’s fairly common that once one has a SABLE (Stash Amassed Beyond Life Expectancy), some of the yarn in said stash loses its label in one form or another. As a good stash-knitter, I try to use yarns from my shelves whenever I can for various projects and I, too, have unlabeled yarn in my rather gargantuan collection. That’s why this yard yardage calculator method below saves me tons of time.

This particular yarn wants to become a sweater, but without knowing how much yardage I have on my hands, I won’t know which sweaters I can attempt. I’m going to show you how to find out how many yards of yarn you have with some simple, household tools.

Tools Required:

  • WPI measurement device (rulers work well for this)
  • Scale
  • Your Brain (or a calculator)

Great yarn yardage calculator method for determining amount of yarn from an unlabeled skein.First, I’m going to verify that this is, in fact, a worsted weight yarn by using my Wraps per Inch device. Much like with a swatch, you want to be careful with how tightly you wind the yarn and how close together the wraps are to each other. You don’t want to wrap them too tightly or push them too closely together–the wraps need to be touching but not bunching. Also, you don’t want to try and wrap a single inch. You don’t knit swatches by the single inch do you? (if you do, you shouldn’t) I wrapped the yarn around to about 3 inches and divided the total number wraps by the number of inches. I did this twice-once with the grey and once with the green yarns and my average Wraps Per Inch (WPI) were about 13, so I confirmed that I do have a worsted weight yarn.

Great yarn yardage calculator method for determining amount of yarn from an unlabeled skein involves weighing your yarn.After I verify the gauge of the yarn, I’m going to weigh my cakes to see how many grams of each I have. I ended up with about 291g of the grey and about 244g of the green. Because I have a handy dandy card that gives me rough calculations of how many yards are in a pound in any given gauge of yarn, I converted my gram measurements to pounds (which you can do by asking your favorite search engine to help you) and found that I have about .64 lbs of the grey and .54 lbs of the green. According to the chart below, there are an average of 1050 yds of worsted weight yarn per pound. I multiplied this average by the weights I now know I have in each color. This gives me roughly 670 yds of grey and 570 yds of green.

Handy dandy card that works as a rough yardage calculator of how many yards are in a pound in any give gauge of yarn.

Summary of Yarn Yardage Calculator Method:

  1. Determine the gauge of the mystery yarn by wrapping it around a measuring device and dividing the total number of wraps by the total inches wrapped, compare this number to the above table.
  2. Determine the weight in pounds of the mystery yarn.
  3. Multiply the weight in pounds by the average number of yards per pound given in the above table.
  4. Knit on in confidence.

With all that information, I can finally pick a sweater to knit! I was thinking perhaps either the Gooseberry Cardigan from Interweave Knits Weekend 2009 or the Emerald Isle Cardigan from Knitscene Fall 2009. Which knitted sweater would you make?

—Holly P.

If you’d like to purchase either of these knitting patterns, you can do so in the Interweave Store. The Emerald Isle Cardigan can be purchased as an individual pattern download, while the Gooseberry Cardigan can be found (on the cover) in the digital version of Interweave Knits Weekend 2009.

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