When planning a new project, the first question that comes to mind is “How much yarn do I need?”. Whether you’re substituting one yarn for another in a pattern or whether you just have a general sense of what you’d like to make, you can figure out the yardage by using yarn calculations.
How much yarn do I need?

Table courtesy of Lion Brand Yarns

A pattern will usually tell you how much yarn you will need if you’re using the recommended yarn for the pattern but if you decide to substitute a different type (making sure it’s the same weight) then you will need to recalculate how much you will need.

This is quite a simple calculation:

  • Number of skeins called for in the pattern × yards per skein (this will be given on the label or can be found online) = total yards needed for the pattern
  • Total yards needed for the pattern ÷ yards per skein of your chosen yarn (again, you can find this on the label or online) = number of skeins you need (round up to the nearest whole number)

So how much yarn do I need?

If you decide to go with a different weight of yarn but adjust the size according to the gauge, then this is a little more complicated. The table below give you an approximation of how much you will need. This table gives yardage approximations for various projects in a variety of gauges.

Estimated Yardage of Yarn for Projects
Yarn Weight Category Stitches per Inch Hat Scarf Adult Sweater
1 Superfine 7 to 8 300 to 375 350 1,500 to 3,200
2 Fine 6 to 7 250 to 350 300 1,200 to 2,500
3 Light 5 to 6 200 to 300 250 1,000 to 2,000
4 Medium 4 to 5 150 to 250 200 800 to 1,500
5 Bulky 3 to 4 125 to 200 150 600 to 1,200
6 Super bulky 1.5 to 3 75 to 125 125 400 to 800

Patterns usually call for a little more than you’ll actually use. However, because you want to swatch and account for the unknown (you may want to lengthen the sleeves or make the body length a bit longer), buy a little extra. Especially if it’s being discontinued. Different stitches also use more yardage than others. For example, a ribbed or cabled pattern takes more yarn than stockinette stitch, and your tension may vary.