Stash Secrets: How Many Yards Are Left in That Skein of Yarn?

Let's say you have some yarn leftover from a sweater project and you want to use it to make a hat. It looks like you might have enough, but you're not quite sure.

You could take a chance and play what we call "yarn chicken." But what if you get almost all the way to the top, but run out before finishing? If you want a guarantee that you'll have enough yarn, the only way to know is to find out the yardage.

In a previous post, I showed you how to weigh your sock to determine if you have enough yarn left to knit another sock. So many of our readers loved the idea, so we thought we'd take that one step further and explore how to figure out how many yards are left in a partial skein.

Before we start, let me warn you: There is some math involved, but it's easy! I mean, sure, you could slowly pull out the yarn from the skein, measure it, and find the yardage that way. But that could take a really long time. This math only takes a few minutes.

What you'll need:

  • Postal or food scale
  • Partial skein of yarn
  • Partial skein's yarn label

Tip: If you don't have the yarn label anymore but you remember what kind of yarn it is, just search for the information online.

Step 1: Gather intel

Before starting the math, you need to get some info. Track down and record the following numbers:

  • How many yards were in the full skein? Check the yarn label info for this number.
  • How much did the full skein weight? Check the yarn label for this, too. Note that for this math to work, you need to stick with the same weight system when you're recording the numbers. For example, if your scale weighs in ounces, record the full skein's weight in ounces. If your scale uses grams, then write down the grams instead.

Step 2: Weigh your skein

Next, place your partial skein on a kitchen or postal scale. Write down how much it weighs, using the same weight system you used in Step 1 for the total weight of the full skein.

Step 3: Math!

  1. Multiply the total yards of the full skein by the weight of the partial skein.
  2. Divide that number by the total weight of the full skein.

This is how many yards are left in your partial skein!

Here's an example to demonstrate...

I have a partial skein of Cascade 220 in Plum that's left from a sweater project. I want to knit a pair of mittens that requires 80 yards of worsted-weight yarn. I'd love to use this leftover skein, but I'm not sure if I'll have enough to make the mittens. Let's see if I have enough.

Here's the yarn info:

  • Total weight of the skein: 3.53 ounces
  • Total yardage of the skein: 220 yards
  • Weight of partial skein: 1.4 ounces

And here's the math:

  • 220 (yards in full skein) x 1.4 (ounces in partial skein) = 308
  • 308 ÷ 3.53 (ounces of the full skein) = 87.25

So my partial skein has 87.25 yards of yarn left, which means I can make the mittens that require 80 yards with this yarn.
As you weigh your partial skeins and calculate the yardage, it's a great idea to write the yardage down and store it with the yarn. That way, if you can't use the partial skein for the project you're working on now, maybe you can use it again in the future. Recording that yardage number will save you some time when you're looking for yarn stash options next time!

Have you ever played yarn chicken and ran out of yarn near the end of the project?

Tell us your horror story in the comments, and let us know if you'll be using this calculating method next time!

November 12, 2017
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Stash Secrets: How Many Yards Are Left in That Skein of Yarn?