Hot Tip: Weigh it

Hot Tip: Weigh your yarn

Let’s say you finished a project awhile ago and need to know but can’t remember how many skeins of yarn you used. Or you want to wind one skein of yarn into three equal balls. Or you have most of a skein left over from your last project and think it miiiight be enough for that hat pattern you’ve got your eye on, but aren’t sure. How do you solve these problems and others like them? With a kitchen scale. Every yarn is labeled with the weight of the skein and the yardage, so with those two numbers, the weight of whatever you’re questioning, and a calculator, you can get to the bottom of anything.

Scenario 1 up there: Let’s say the yarn you used came in 50g skeins. If your sweater weighs 460g, you used 9.2 skeins of yarn. (If each of those skeins was 140 yards, and you have .8 of a skein left, you have 112 yards.) Scenario 2: Wind until your first ball weighs 1/3 of the skein, repeat for the next two balls. Scenario 3: That little nubbin of yarn in the photo above is all that was left when I finished Bob’s sweater! It’s O-Wool Balance which is 130 yards per 50-gram skein. I have 5g left, one-tenth of a 50g skein, so that’s 13 yards. (Enough to knit a new neckband if needed? Dicey! But more than I would have guessed from looking at it.) If you know what the yarn is but no longer have the label for the weight and yardage, consult the yarn company’s website or the Ravelry yarn database.

Although I can’t find any supporting evidence, I’m pretty sure the very first time I ever saw mention of weighing yarn was Jane Richmond (a role model where maximizing yardage is concerned) blogging about how to use every inch of your yarn for a Rae shawl, which is a long triangular shawl knitted from one wingtip to the other. She said to knit until your ball weighed exactly as much as your knitting, which would mean you were exactly at the halfway point of your skein, so that would be the exact center of your shawl (in this scenario). I was a brand-new knitter at the time, and the notion of weighing anything seemed like the most brilliant thing I had ever heard! No more guessing at how much yarn was used or left over when filling in Ravelry projects, or casting on with leftovers without knowing how far they would go.

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24 thoughts on “Hot Tip: Weigh it

  1. I did this recently when beginning to knit my first pair of socks from a single ball of Cascade Heritage Waves sock yarn. It appeared that the beginning and end of the skein started with the same color. Wanting the socks to match, I wound from one end until it weighed half of the total weight. Then wound the second ball from the other end. I am knitting toe up and am just above the heel of the second sock. So far, so good. Can you recommend a particular scale that I can dedicate to yarn?

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  2. Great tip! I do that all the time, my small digital scale is a key knitting notion. Not only do I know exactly how much yarn I used, my stash is completely up to date, which helps accurately plan my next projects.

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  3. I use my kitchen scale for fiber more than food – both for yarn calculations as you describe and for raw cashmere from my goats. Before I bought my own scale, I once brought a sock WIP and the attached ball of yarn to my local post office to beg the Postmistress to weigh both so I could decide how long the leg could be. She was a knitter. And it’s a very small town.

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  4. The other thing it is great for is socks. I hate that guessing that happens on the first sock – is the leg going to be too short, or can I keep going without risking the leg of the second sock not matching. :-) For this reason the most prized Christmas gift I got this year was a digital kitchen scale. Family thought I was crazy to get so excited about it, but now my socks will be long enough, the same and I will know how much (if any!) yarn is left. :-)

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  5. I usually weigh yarn when I get it, almost every ball or skein is slightly different. Then I can accurately weigh for dividing or for socks.

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  6. BUT: i weigh almost every skein that enters my stash because hardly any skein/ball weighs as much as it says on the label. often, there’s more yarn but i’ve also experienced many times that there was less weight.

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  7. A digital scale is also invaluable in figuring approximate yardage of handspun. Find a similar commercial yarn in the Ravelry data base for comparison. My scale is in constant use for all the ways you described. It is also great for improvised stripe, stash busting projects when you want to make sure you have enough to get to the end of a stripe.

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  8. I’ve heard that some brands of yarn are short of what is indicated on the label. Weighing the yarn after purchase and before use might be helpful.

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  9. I use a little scale all the time because I love knitting hats with sock yarn held double. But I never thought to use it to weigh left over yarn balls to determine how many yards are left in them! What a great tip.

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  10. I read about this ages ago, but had forgotten about it…thanks for the reminder! I have far too many skeins of partially used yarn! My scale isn’t digital…can you recommend one as I’m sure they’re not all created equal? Many thanks, Karen!

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  11. This is the reason I really wanted a scale for Christmas, haha. I got a book a couple years ago and Cirilia Rose has a pattern in it (I think it’s called New England Knits?). It’s square shawl and she suggests you weigh your yarn so there’s enough for a shawl for you and a friend. It was a real eye-opener for me, but I never really used this tip until I started making socks a lot. It’s so helpful! It’s great since I know exactly how much I used and helps me plan what I can use so I can destash.

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  12. Funny, I just did this! I’m finishing a project with lots of leftover colors and I want to keep my stash current. But here’s the coolest thing. When you enter the portion of the original skein that’s left, in grams, and enter it onto your project page yarn, it gives you the grams and calculates the number of yards that remain = no math to mess with!

    I know tha actual weight of commercial yarn skeins isn’t always exact, but having an approximate is good enough for me.

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  13. The thing to remember is, if you’re working with lace-weight yarn, you’ll likely need a digital scale that measures to 2 decimal places. It’s called a scientific scale and it’s often used when creating skin care, wherein every hundredth of a point is relevant. The reason for this scale, with lace-weight, is that a kitchen scale will generally not be able to determine the weight accurately, if at all (in small quantities). Ask me how I know! Fortunately, I also make skin care products :-) BTW, these are easy to find at cosmetic ingredient supply stores.

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  14. Pingback: Hot Tip: Make it match | Fringe Association

  15. I’ve never weighed my yarn, and always laugh when I see knitters and crocheters doing it. I’m like, just buy more yarn than you think you’ll need. The rest you can stash, I mean, extra yarn is NOT a bad thing. The first time I saw someone weigh their yarn, I thought she’d lost her mind, until she told me how much it cost. I just shook my head in sadness. If the pattern calls for 10 oz of yarn, I buy 15. The extra usually ends up in an afghan, or as socks, or a hair band….

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  16. Just to affirm; I have a finished project. Want to make it again in the same yarn. If I weigh project and then weigh yarn if they are equal or I have more in unused ball I can go for it?

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