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.

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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!

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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.

4 thoughts on “How To Use Up All Your Yarn In A Knitting Project

  1. Ellie says:

    Jewellery scales are easy to get on amazon and ebay, as you say. I call mine my “drug dealer” scales as the “people who bought this also bought” links made it quite clear that was the main market for them!

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