Are you planning a large crochet project and trying to figure out how much yarn you need to buy? If you’ve ever asked yourself (or Googled ad nauseam) how much yarn you need for a particular project, this article is for you! I have been using this method for determining how much yarn I’ll need for years, and it is always fun (and remarkable) to see how close I get!
How Much Yarn Do I Need?
Trying to determine how much yarn is needed for a blanket, scarf, baby blanket, or other crochet project can be daunting. You don’t want to overbuy but you certainly don’t want to risk not having enough yarn, especially when it comes to matching dye lots and product availability. There are many charts online that have general yardage estimates based on intended blanket size, but there are so many other factors that contribute to yardage that these charts are simply not as accurate as they could be. For example, some crochet stitches require much more yarn than others, so while those estimates can be close, the method below is a sure-fire way to determine how much yarn you need to buy.
One question that is posed over and over again is “How much yarn do I need for a blanket” (or baby blanket, or scarf, etc). The truth is that you can estimate yardage with little more than time and a kitchen scale.
How to determine yardage
This method works best when you’re starting from scratch. If following a pattern, and your gauge closely resembles that of the designer’s, the amount of yarn needed should closely resemble that of the designer.
If A (gauge) = A and B (pattern) = B , then it’s safe to say that C (yardage) will most likely = C.
First you’ll need to decide which yarn to use, then decide which crochet stitch (or stitches) to use, then work up some swatches to nail down your hook size. For the sake of this tutorial, we are going to pretend that we are making a 50″ wide x 60″ tall blanket using the double crochet stitch.
By nailing down your yarn choice, hook size, and stitch, you can easily determine how many yards you’ll need to finish said blanket.
2. Decide which crochet stitch you’ll use. In this tutorial we are using double crochet, but perhaps your blanket will contain a stitch set worked in multiples, either by stitches or by row. While this method of determining how much yarn you’ll need can be used with virtually any stitch/yarn/hook, the simpler the stitch, the easier it is to calculate. We will discuss more in-depth stitch sets below.
3. Work up a swatch using your intended yarn, hook size, and stitch. This is very important in any project, not only because it allows you to see the drape of the fabric (how stiff or flowy it is), but because this is how we know how much each stitch weighs. The larger the swatch the more accurate your calculations will be.
When determining yardage, you want the most regular stitches possible (not turning chains, or outside stitches as they are differently shaped) in order to get an accurate depiction. For the sake of math, I personally like to keep my stitches an even multiple of 10. As stated above, the larger your swatch, the more accurate your yardage estimate will be. Start with 30 double crochet stitches.
Row 1: Ch-32, dc in 3rd chain from hook and in each to end. (30)
Rows 2 – 10: Ch-2, turn, dc in each st to end. (30)
Once you’ve got a swatch, and you’re happy with the fabric, hook size, yarn, etc, it is time to calculate the weight of each individual stitch. To get as accurate a read as possible, make sure that the loop left over from the last stitch made is not super long (so as to not skew the weight).
If we have 30 stitches per row and 10 rows, we have 300 stitches total. Take the total weight of your piece and divide by the number of stitches in your swatch.
weight / number of stitches = weight per stitch
.61 oz / 300 stitches = 0.0020333333333333 per stitch
Because of how small this number is, keep track of all of the decimals. Allll of them. Now that we know the weight of each individual stitch, ask yourself how large you want your blanket to be. In this tutorial we are pretending that we want a blanket that is 50″ wide and 60″ tall. Because most gauge swatches are measured in 4″ squares, that is what we’ll use to determine width and height of each stitch.
If, in 4″ of double crochet stitches, we have 13 stitches, each stitch is approximately .307″ wide. We want our blanket to be 50″ wide, so we divide 50″ by .307″, telling us that we need about 162 stitches to equal 50″ width.
If, in 4″ of double crochet rows, we have 7.5 rows, each row is approximately .533″ tall. We want our blanket to be 60″ tall, so we divide 60″ by .533″, telling us that we need about 112 rows. (More on counting your crochet rows here.)
This means that we need 162 stitches per row for 112 rows, or 18,144 stitches total. Now all that is left is to multiply that out using the weight of each stitch.
18,144 x 0020333333333333 = 36.89 oz (or about 1950 yards, more on that calculation here)
Red Heart With Love comes in 370 yard, 7 oz skeins, so we will need approximately 5 and one quarter skeins. Ta-da!!!
For more difficult stitch sets, or those that span many stitches and/or rows (such as the Argyle Shell), you’ll still work up a small swatch and weigh it. Instead of going off of total number of stitches, you’ll want to determine the weight of the repeat, preferably several repeats and/or several rows of repeats. Again, the larger your swatch here, the more accurate your estimate will be.
Using this method of estimating yardage for projects, I am usually off by no more than 20 yards in either direction. Pretty darn sweet if you ask me! 😛 Let me know how this method works for you!