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When you are new at knitting, knowing how much yarn for a sweater can be tricky. Some patterns will tell you exactly how many skeins of yarn you will need, while others may only suggest yardage. In other cases, the pattern is made for one yarn in specific, which can be difficult to translate into other types of yarn.
Regardless, if you want to make a sweater and need answers, then follow these tips. We will also take into account that not all yarns are weighted or measured the same way, so you can make an accurate decision.
These are the 8 tips to follow for when you wonder how much yarn for a sweater:
Tip #1: Consider the characteristics of your sweater
Before you begin knitting a sweater, there are many factors to take into account. Some things to include are what the fiber is, the weight of the yarn, the gauge, size, style, and design.
Tip #2: Watch out for the fiber content
Whether you are knitting wool, cotton, silk, alpaca, or cashmere, you need to know that each of these has its own properties and will result in different amounts of yarn needed.
If you are going with wool, then you need to know what breed the sheep is, as this can change the fiber. Each breed of sheep will result in different width, length, toughness, and softness. This means that you may need more or less to complete your sweater.
On the other hand, cotton yarn is strong for long-lasting sweaters, but can be extremely hard to substitute in patterns that were not made with cotton in mind.
Other yarns, like wool, silk, or cashmere, will also alter the way the sweater fits and feels, so you may need to combine them to create a better sweater.
Tip #3: Take gauge into account too
The gauge, which refers to the number of stitches and rows per inch, is what will give you an idea of how much yarn you need. The gauge will affect how your yarn works, if you want to use more or fewer stitches, for example, you may need to adjust how much yarn you need for the sweater.
Tip #4: Consider the elasticity of your yarn
Depending on what yarn you buy and how it was manufactured, some yarns will have a tighter twist than others. The twist also affects how stretchy the fabric is, and if it is tighter, it will stretch less and require more yarn.
Less stretch means your sweater will fit tighter and not expand as easily. The elasticity of the yarn also affects the weave of the stitches, which means if it is looser, it can also be see-through.
Tip #5: Think about the size of the person
This is an obvious point, but it goes beyond finding out what size clothing the person uses. What we mean here is that you should also look into what the person likes to wear. Does the person wear many layers under their sweaters? Do they like tight-fitting clothing? Do they have a problem with certain fabrics? These are all factors that affect how clothes fit and how they feel, so they will certainly affect how much yarn you need to make a sweater.
Tip #6: The style of the sweater also changes the amount of yarn you need
Not all sweaters are the same, so looking closely at the pattern will determine how much yarn you need. Ask yourself whether you will be knitting the sweater from the top or bottom-up? If so, no seams will mean that you need less yarn.
Are you going to be using various colors? That may mean more yarn but less cutting on each color for weaving later.
What about the length of the sleeves? A close fit sleeve sweater requires fewer yards of yarn than those that are more baggy or open. Using a smaller needle on the cuff will also require less yarn than using the same-size needle.
You may also want to think about the neckline. Are you using a crew neckline? V-neck? These use less yarn than other styles, but they may require another pattern of knitting that changes the overall yardage as well.
Tip #7: The stitch type also affects your yarn
For most sweaters out there, the main stitch pattern is stockinette, and it is the easiest to use to determine yardage. This style means using less yarn because it is a very simple stitch and very long, which means a longer stretch.
If you use a cable stitch, your pattern will surely turn out beautiful, but you will need to buy more yarn than when you use a simple knit or purl stitch. A cable needle and its number of stitches determine the amount of working yarn you need. Also, remember that with cable, you will need extra stitches added to the row because of the “pulling in” that cable stitches create.
A garter stitch creates shorter and wider stitches, but that may mean more yardage needed if you are making a longer sweater. Using this type of stitch means that you should account for the extra yarn that each row requires since it will be a shorter height than the normal stitch.
Tip #8: There are some basic guidelines you can use
Depending on whom you are making the sweater for, there are some basic yardage guidelines out there. For babies under two years old, you will need about 500-700 yards. Toddlers aged two to six years old will require an average of 800 yards with a maximum of 1,000. Children under 12 years old need about 1,000-1,200 yards.
Women with a 32-40 bust size will need an average of 1,500 yards with a maximum of 1,700 but go up to 1,900 if you want a loose-fitting sweater. Men with 36-48 chest sizes may need between 1,700-2,000 yards, but up to 2,400 if you want a loose-fitting sweater.
Time to start buying your yarn!
There is no going back now; you are all set to start making the sweater that you always wanted. While there is no one-answer-fits-all kind of situation here, you know what to expect and how to calculate your yarn better.
Enjoyed reading this article? Why not check out this article about the 8 tips to follow when you want to substitute yarn.