Kristin Omdahl’s Guide to Yarn Estimates

Yarn yardage estimate for any knit or crochet project

Kristin Omdahl’s Guide to Yarn Estimates

Estimating how much yarn will be needed for a project is a topic that I am frequently asked about.  As both a crocheter and knitter, this is invaluable information for a variety of reasons, and even as a designer this is really important information for me, too! As always, I am happy to share my knowledge with you!

Why Do I Need to Know About Yarn Estimates?

There are so many reasons you may want to learn about yarn estimates, or at least keep this information handy for when you do! Here are some common reasons:

  • yarn shown in pattern is discontinued
  • yarn shown in pattern isn’t budget friendly for you
  • yarn show in pattern isn’t fiber friendly for you
  • yarn shown in pattern doesn’t come in colors you like
  • you want to modify the pattern to work with a different weight yarn
  • you want to modify the pattern to work with a different fiber content yarn
  • you want to create without an existing pattern

What are the Determining Factors for the Yarn Estimate Ranges?

Knitting and crochet require different amounts of yarn, generally speaking. However, types of stitches used and gauge are also important facts to consider. Bobbles, cables and textured stitches require more yardage, lace and open work require less yardage, and simple stitches would be closer to the mid-range (double crochet or stockinette for knitting).

Your own personal gauge is an important factor as well. Are you a tight or loose knitter/crocheter? If you are tight, look at the higher side of the yarn yardage estimate range. And if you are loose, look to the lower end of the yarn yardage estimate range.

How to Use Yarn Estimate Information

Once you know the estimated yarn yardage for your project, here’s how you can use it.

Total yards needed for a pattern ÷ (divided by) yards per ball/hank/skein of your chosen yarn = (equals) the number of balls you’ll need (always round up to the nearest whole number if the math doesn’t work out evenly).

For example, let’s say you estimate you’ll need 900 yds of yarn to make a shawl. The yarn you want to use is sold in balls that are 200 yds per ball.

900 ÷ 200 = 4.5 balls, rounded up to 5 balls

Another common issue: what if a pattern only tells you how many balls of yarn you need, but not the total yardage.

For example, let’s say the pattern calls for 10 balls of yarn. Check the yarn label to determine how many yards are in each ball/hank/skein.  In this example, we will say it is 150 yds per ball.  You may even need to search online to find out the information about the yarn, if it is not provided in the pattern.

10 ball x (times) 150 yds per ball = (equals) 1500 yds.

Armed with this information, you can now choose a different yarn if you want.

Kristin Omdahl is the best-selling author of dozens of knit and crochet books; designer of almost 1000 knit and crochet patterns; producer of award-winning videos; and curator of gorgeous yarns and products. You can join Kristin LIVE 5 days a week for The Kristin Omdahl Show on YouTube and browse through thousands of tutorial videos there, too. Kristin donates a portion of every sale to help survivors of domestic violence. Learn more about Kristin’s charity, Project Kristin Cares HERE.

Shop Kristin Omdahl Crochet Patterns HERE

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I look forward to seeing what you create!



10 thoughts on “Kristin Omdahl’s Guide to Yarn Estimates

  1. Debora Duff says:

    Could you set this guide up as you would a pattern so that I could buy it and print it. This guide would be very handy to have.
    Thanks, Debora Duff

  2. gakadams791 says:

    Thank you his is so helpful when picking different weight yarns , you are amazing ,this is a Great tool. Thank you Karen A

  3. Patty says:

    Thanks so much for this very useful guide… PDF would be awesome, btw. Also would really like to hear you discuss European (?) yarn weights and compare them to US. I am exploring yarns from some overseas mfgs and am struggling to easily identify what “8/4” etc. really mean. You mentioned on your podcast yesterday (another Happy Birthday shout out btw, cuz birthdays last more than just one day ) that you might talk about this subject someday. Hopefully soon ‍. Thanks as always for your depth of knowledge

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