How To Use Up All Your Yarn In A Knitting Project

Would you like to be able to tell if you have enough yarn left to knit another row? Maybe you’d like to make sure that your project uses up as much yarn as possible? Or perhaps you’d like to know if you have enough yarn left to make your project bigger?

If so, then I’ve got you covered, and the answer involves a set of weighing scales!

The jewellry scales featured below are probably one of my most used pieces of ‘knitting equipment’ and not just by me – a week barely goes past without someone at my Wednesday Knit Night asking if they can borrow them! The great thing about them is that, since they can measure to .00g, much more accurate than a set of kitchen scales, they are incredibly useful for working out how much yarn you have left and whether you can eek out another repeat or not.

I bought this set from Amazon several years ago for less than £10 and I reckon that I use them nearly everyday! You might find them handy too, as it’s lovely to be able to make the most out of your beautiful yarn, and not have too much leftover.

I’m going to use my latest shawl pattern Loanin, (Ravelry link) as an example but you can use the same principle to calculate amounts for other patterns.

Loanin asks you to knit ten repeats of Rows 1-24 of the main pattern, so just before you embark on the last repeat, weigh your yarn and write down the number (I always think I’ll remember and then I don’t!) – let’s call this number X.

Work the repeat (24 rows), and weigh the yarn again – let’s call this number Y. To work out how much yarn has been used by one repeat of the pattern, do the calculation

X – Y = Z grams, where Z is the amount used in one repeat of Rows 1-24.

Doing this might let you work out whether you can knit another repeat of the 24 rows or not, but it’s handy to do a further calculation to establish roughly how much yarn is used in each row. For Loanin, the repeat is 24 rows, so if I take Z and divide it by 24, I have the approximate amount used up by 1 row.

Loanin has a 10 row garter stitch border before the cast off so I would need to multiple that last amount by 10 to account for the border. Also think about how much you would need for the cast-off, usually 3 rows worth, so multiple the last amount by 3 to account for that!

For Example (I’ve made these amounts up so please don’t use them as a guide when you’re knitting your Loanin!):

  • X (first weight of yarn, before last repeat) -> 23g
  • Y (second weight of yarn, after last repeat) -> 15g
  • Z (amount used in one repeat/24 rows) -> 23 – 15 = 8g
  • Amount used by 1 row -> 8 divided by 24 = 0.33g
  • Amount needed for 10 row edging -> 0.33 x 10 = 3.33g
  • Amount needed for cast off (3 rows worth) -> 0.33 x 3 = 0.99g

So here, if I’d worked my 10 repeats of the pattern and I had 15g left, I could work another repeat, which would use 8g, leaving me with 7g. I would need approximately 4.5g for the edging and cast-off (4.32g), so an extra repeat would be possible!


CAUTION! If you’re working a pattern with an increasing stitch count, then each row will use slightly more yarn than the previous row, so it’s important to keep an eye on how much yarn each row is using as you go, and adjusting your plans as necessary.

I hope that’s helpful and means that you feel a bit more confident about making shawls (or other knits) bigger – I can’t recommend a set of jewellery scales enough! If you have any questions then please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Top 5 Shawl Edging Tips

If you’ve ever been bothered by the way the edge of your shawl looks, then have a little read below: some of these tips might give you a solution!
1. Smooth Garter Stitch >>> Lots of shawls have a garter stitch border, which is great because it stops the edges of the knitting from rolling, but many people aren’t so keen on the bumpy edge that this produces. For a sleeker edge, slip the first stitch of each row purl-wise (as if you were going to purl it) with the yarn in front, then move the yarn to the back of your work (between the needles) to work the rest of the row. This creates an edge stitch that is smoother and looks more like stocking stitch than bumpy garter stitch (have a look at my project page here (Ravelry link) to see what this looks like).
2. Loosen Up! >>> If you find that the edge of your shawl is a bit tight (when you pull it lengthways it doesn’t have much stretch), then you could work a yarn over in-between the edge stitches on the right-side row, dropping it off the needle on the wrong-side row. For example, if the edge was three stitches wide, work the first stitch, make a yo, then work the other stitches as per the pattern. Then on the wrong side drop the yo off the needles and work the other edge stitches as usual. This helps to create a bit of extra yarn within the edge stitches, thereby making them stretchier.
3. Loosen Up Some More! >>> It’s really easy for i-cord edgings to become tight, since each stitch is only being worked every other row (it is slipped every alternate row). You can use the above method within the i-cord stitches to help loosen off the edge.

4. Carrying That Yarn >>> If you’re knitting a shawl with large stripes (wider than 2-4 rows), then it’s a real pain to have to cut the yarn in-between stripes. Try carrying the non-working yarn up the edge . After working the first stitch of the row, loosely lay the non-working yarn over the top of the working yarn, then continue working the rest of the row. This twists the yarns together and means that the non-working yarn will be carried up the back of your shawl as you work those wide stripes. (See photo above)

5. Carry Some More >>> You can also carry yarn within an i-cord edge, using a similar method as above. Just remember to keep the stitches and yarn pretty loose so that when you come to block your shawl, the i-cord will stretch in a similar way to the ‘body’ of the shawl, and is not restricted by the ‘carried’ yarn pulling tight.

Comment below if you have any more tips for edgings – I’d love to know!