The Souvenir Skein – Is There Enough Yardage for a Scarf?

The guild exhibit and sale season is upon us and souvenir skeins are beckoning!

I was recently at a yarn marketplace with a couple of friends. Susan, who is a newish weaver, was interested in a skein of yarn and asked me if there was a sufficient amount in the skein to weave a scarf. I walked her through a short math lesson, but the moment got me thinking that maybe other weavers wonder about the same thing. Of course, you could just go ahead and buy that pretty hand-dyed skein and hope for the best; but with a little math you might be able to actually use it as you envision.

Here are the elements I use in my calculations:

  • A 3-yard warp is sufficient for a 72″ scarf, allowing 1 yard for take up and loom waste, including fringe, on a shaft loom. On a rigid heddle loom, a 2.5-yard warp is sufficient.
  • Scarves are generally between 4 and 10 inches in width.
  • Sett is hard to determine, although you can usually wrap a few strands around your finger to roughly figure out how many strands are in one half inch.
  • Weft yardage is about two thirds of the warp yardage.
Yardage

Do your best to estimate a sett by wrapping a finger for about a half inch. Photo Credit: Susan E. Horton

I normally do the math in my head but you could use your phone’s calculator to do a better job.

If you want to use the skein only for warp: Divide the number of yards in the skein by 3 yards for a shaft loom or 2.5 yards for a rigid-heddle loom. That number divided by your sett will determine the width.

An example: A skein of 250 yards divided by 3 yards yields about 80 warp threads. If you sett it at 10 epi, that would mean an 8-inch-wide warp. The same skein of yarn would yield about 100 warp threads on a rigid-heddle loom, or a 10-inch wide warp (250 divided by 2.5).

If you want to know how many yards you need for warp and weft, approach the calculation a little differently. Multiply your estimated sett by the desired width; then multiply by 3 yards or (2 .5 yards) to see how many yards you need for the warp. For weft, estimate two thirds of the warp yardage. Add the 2 together for the total number of yards needed for a scarf.

An example: If your estimated sett is 10, and you want a 10″ scarf, multiply 10 by 10 to get 100 warp threads. Multiplying 100 warp threads times your 3 yard warp length equals 300 yards. Two thirds of 300 is 200. Therefore, you need 500 yards (or 2 skeins of 250 yards each) to weave a 10 x 72″ scarf on a shaft loom.

For a rigid heddle loom, multiplying 100 warp threads times your 2.5 yard warp length equals 250 yards. Two thirds of 250 yards is roughly 160 yards. Therefore you need 410 yards to weave the same scarf. You’ll still need to purchase 2 skeins but you’ll have more left over for your next project.

These types of calculations are estimates at best but if you are at all flexible in length and width they will help you buy your next souvenir skein or skeins with more confidence.

See you at the marketplace!

Weave well,
Susan

Featured Image: Hand-dyed skein Photo credit: Susan E. Horton


Here are some books and magazines that will inspire your next weaving project using that souvenir skein!

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