Over the weekend, several of you asked me how much of a particular yarn you should buy, when there wasn’t a project in mind. Its also helpful to have some general guidelines when out of town and visiting the LYS in that area. You may have found the most amazing hand dyed cashmere but without a particular project in mind, how much do you buy? During the upcoming Knit-a-Gogo sponsored trip to Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival, we will focus on learning how to buy hand dye and hand spun yarns when you have no idea what you might knit with them!
Interweave Knits published this great folded and laminated guide to help buyers decide how much yarn is needed, in general, for different projects on each gauge of yarn and at several sizes. This guide can be found at almost any yarn store (for purchase and for “borrowing”). It wouldÂ be good to know your “numbers” and memorize how much yarn a sweater in your size would require at dk, worsted and chunky weights.
In general, the following are some rough guidelines to help you through the next sale (I know it can be overwhelming to see all that great fiber for so cheap!)
Lace yarn: this stuff usually comes in giant hanks that are enough for a wrap, so just buy one and go from there. If it is lower on the yardage, you can at least make a scarf from it.
Sock yarn: typically a pair of socks requires one 400-450 yard hank or two smaller hanks.Â If the yarn is absolutely gorgeous but there is only one small hank, you can always make a pair of wrist warmers, baby socks, or baby hat with it.
Sport and DK weight yarns: I wouldn’t buy less than 200 yards (typically two balls) of this yarn, as a baby hat or other infant garment will require at least this amount. If the yarn is particularly cheap, refer to the guide above, as a sweater in this gauge could require between 1000-1500 yards or more.
Worsted: now here is a versatile yarn. I have been known to buy only a hank (200 yards) of a very beautiful and very expensive worsted while traveling because I know that this amount will make, at the very least, a skinny scarf. I know that in my size, 600 yards will make a sleeveless sweater or camisole (quite safely) and that 1000-1200 yards will make most long sleeve pullovers or cardigans. If the yarn is a solid color, wonderful and cheap, I will pick up 1200 yards of it to be on the safe side and then worry about what I am going to do with it later 🙂
Chunky: chunky is just as versatile as worsted, although it just doesn’t work for baby garments. Given this, I tend to buy a bit more of chunky weight yarns. I love making sweaters from this gauge because it is so fast, so I keep my “numbers” handy so that I know just how much to buy.
Superchunky and bulky or thick and thin yarns: As you know, my beanie hat pattern is made from a superchunky yarn and requires only one ball (aprox. 70 meters) of yarn. One hank of the thick and thin Neighborhood Fiber Co yarn can make a hat or neck warmer or even a funky pair of mittens. Sweaters in this gauge tend to look awful on anyone larger than a size 6, so the majority of knitters won’t buy bags of this gauge.Â I would say around 150 yards is a good amount to be on the safe side, as this will make a scarf and is plenty for mittens and hats as well.
So there you have it… Your next step is to buy the guide above or memorize some yarn requirements for the following in your size:
cami / vest in dk and worsted weight yarn
sweater in dk and worsted weight yarn
shawl or wrap in worsted weight yarn
That and the hints above should provide you with plenty of information for your next giant sale!