You’ve bought the fleece, dreamed of the pattern, or found one that is already written, but you are still unsure just how much handspun yarn you will need for your project. There are a few ways to answer this question.
Working with a pattern is usually the simplest way to know how much yarn is needed. Check the pattern to see if it gives a yardage requirement. If it does, you’re set to begin, but what if it doesn’t? If the pattern specifies a particular brand of yarn, that can be converted into yardage with a quick search of the yarn shop or internet to see what the length of that yarn is, then multiply it by the number of skeins specified by the pattern.
If the pattern gives no details in regard to length, or if you are creating an original, there are a few easy steps you can follow. Begin by preparing a portion of your fiber to spin. Be sure this is a sizeable sample to give a good representation of the yarn you are trying to create. Spin and ply the yarn as you intend to for the entire garment. Finish the yarn in keeping with your intent for the entire project. This includes boiling, drying under tension, whizzing, or any other agitation you may desire. Once the yarn has dried, measure it and weigh it. Using the length divided by the weight you will determine the yards per ounce, or in metric meters per gram. This calculation can be used to convert your handspun to a standard yarn weight.
Baby Greater than 144 yards per ounce
Fingering 110 to 144 yards per ounce
Sport or DK 75 to 110 yards per ounce
Worsted 55 to 75 yards per ounce
Bulky 30 to 55 yards per ounce
If you are creating an entirely original garment, you may want to find one that is similar and use it to determine the yardage requirement. Break it down into manageable blocks. For example, a sweater would be a rectangle for each sleeve, then one for the front and one for the back. Measure the length and width of each block. Be sure to use the widest part of each rectangle. Measure the sleeve width at the shoulder rather than the wrist and be sure to go the whole way around. Multiply the length times the width to determine the area of each block, add these up to find the surface area of the garment.
Knit a sample of your yarn and measure its length and width. Take this sample apart and measure only the yarn that was included in the sample. The result will be the number of yards per area of the swatch. Say you knit a 10” x 10” (100 square inch) swatch using 40 yards of yarn. The yarn requirement would be .4 yards per square inch. Multiply the yards per square inch by the number of square inches in your garment to find the total yardage needed to complete your project.