Lion Brand Notebook

News, Ideas and Information for Crafting with Yarn

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Did You Know…? All About Yardage

December 22nd, 2010

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Looking at yarn requirements for a pattern can be confusing and, especially if you need to substitute yarns, trying to decide how much yarn you will need can be overwhelming. Often a pattern will call for a number of balls of a particular yarn and may or may not include additional information about those balls, such as the number of yards per ball or the weight* of each ball. BUT did you know that the only number you really need to know is the total yardage required for the project?

The number of balls required is useful if you are using the yarn called for in the project (and for working the math to determine total yardage), but otherwise can be misleading. The weight of each ball is almost useless for determining how much yarn you will need if you are substituting as different fibers, different thicknesses and even different yarn styles of the same fiber can have wildly different yardages for the same weight.

Let’s take a look at a few different Lion Brand yarns that have the same weight per ball but widely varying yardage. Pay close attention to the differences in fiber and weight category:

Vanna’s Choice (per ball): 3.5 oz, 170yds, category 4, 100% acrylic

Baby’s First (per ball): 3.5oz, 120yds, category 5, 55% Acrylic/45% Cotton

Cotton-Ease (per ball): 3.5oz, 207yds, category 4, 50% cotton/50% acrylic

LB Collection Organic Wool (per ball): 3.5oz, 185yds, category 4, 100% organic wool

LB Collection Superwash Merino (per ball): 3.5oz, 306yds, category 3, 100% Superwash Merino

Let’s say your pattern called for 5 balls of Cotton Ease, but you’d rather use Vanna’s Choice. These are both category 4 yarns, so substituting should be pretty straightforward (though you will , of course, want to do a gauge swatch). However, even though the Vanna’s Choice balls weigh the same as the Cotton-Ease balls, if you buy the “5 balls” required by your pattern, you’ll end up being about 185yds short – that’s more than another full ball of the Vanna’s Choice!

Just remember when you’re thinking about how much yarn you need for a pattern that yardage is what it’s all about when you’re deciding how much to buy and you’ll be all set.

For more on substitution and figuring out how many balls of a different yarn you will need when substituting, see our FAQ by clicking here.

*Please note that “weight” here refers to the actual ounces per ball, not the thickness of the yarn

  • Grace

    This is great information. I would also like to add that I wish all the lion brand patterns listed yardage requirements (or yardage per skein for the suggested yarn) as well as the number fo required skeins. Some of the older patterns will have the yrds/skein listed for the suggested yarn at the bottom of the pattern, but I haven’t seen that in a while. It would be very helpful if this information was included in the materials list.

  • http://crazyoldeshrew.blogspot.com Pam

    I always just look at the ounces. This explains why I sometimes end up running back to the store because I’m short a skein. Thank you for the info; I’m going to start looking at the yardage.

  • Oldlinda

    This post made me feel really good. I have been figuring out how much yarn I’ll need the right way all along and didn’t even realize it. Thanks for the little valildation.

  • Gail

    Wow, wish I had known this a few weeks ago. I substituted yarn for an Xmas present and didn’t have enough, so the present was late. :(
    Thanks Lion Brand for this helpful reminder!

  • Gail

    Wow, wish I had known this a few weeks ago. I substituted yarn for an Xmas present and didn’t have enough, so the present was late. :(
    Thanks Lion Brand for this helpful reminder!

  • Babbersbunny

    I ALWAYS go by the yardage.

  • Corr Mhaire

    Since I also weave, I’ve gotten to looking at yardage almost all the time. Very important when buying sock yarn, since some skeins will only make one sock and some will make a pair.

  • A1neta Kirk

    I also go mostly by yardage. I am high partial legally blind and often will make a scarf, etc., with a slightly heavier yarn than a pattern calls for, often use a bigger hook (or needles), and then figure out how to start with fewer chains or cast on stitches so a scarf doesn’t turn out too wide – LOL! Or sometimes I might want to make something a bit lacier and use a “3″ rather than a “4″ …. I’ve been crocheting since I was little but when someone wants me to make something for them, I tell them not only whether a worsted or whatever, but also the yardage – which comes in handy for someone who knows nothing about it! Thanks for a great post!

  • Mmesser_gcs

    This seems all pretty basic information. I am surprised that people do not think about yardage. I am always looking at the yardage information to check on the amount of yarn I would need. I find that yardage can vary considerably between different types of yarn, even in the same yarn catergory.

  • GSP

    Very helpful, especially for newbies like me! Thank you!

  • jorjanna

    Thanks for this info! I ordered and just got today the book “Quick Knits with Speed Stix” and can’t wait to try out the patterns. This is a perfect example of why I wish you listed needle size as an option to search by. I would love to see more patterns that used four strands of Vanna, etc., but searching just for Vanna or even super bulky won’t do the trick.

    • Anonymous

      Don’t forget that you can type “speed stix” into the search box on LionBrand.com to see patterns that feature these big needles!

  • Phillipbbrown

    How do you determine if it will work to substitute two strands of a finer yarn knitted together instead of a bulky yarn? I like to knit with multiple strands on big needles.

    • Anonymous

      Hi Phillipbbrown, click here for an FAQ with rough guides to a couple of basic substitutions. As always, be sure to always swatch for gauge to see if you like the resulting fabric!

  • Cathy B

    Great information. I also noticed Lion Brand patterns no longer have the yarn information at the end of the pattern. I have been crocheting for years and teach at our community college. I am amazed how many people think you can only use the yarn on the pattern. Keep up the good work! Happy New Year!

  • Marissafh

    Just a word of caution on yardage … I used the Hometown USA yarn in two different colours, and the labels indicated the same amount of yardage per skein. But I ran out of one colour before the other. So, yardage is a good measurement, but not an absolute in determining how much yarn you need. Get one more skein than you need so if there is less yardage in a skein than on the label, then you’ll have enough for your project.

  • Marissafh

    Just a word of caution on yardage … I used the Hometown USA yarn in two different colours, and the labels indicated the same amount of yardage per skein. But I ran out of one colour before the other. So, yardage is a good measurement, but not an absolute in determining how much yarn you need. Get one more skein than you need so if there is less yardage in a skein than on the label, then you’ll have enough for your project.

  • Missusmaczi

    I found a few balls of a yarn that is no longer made and could find no patterns for it. Having the yardage made it so much better to match up a suitable pattern :) I have found your entire site wonderfully informative (although sometimes find the differences between terminology different to how I was taught a challenge!)

  • WAM

    I seem to always pick a Lion pattern that does not have the yarn info included. A VERY helpfu; addition to this website would be a tab that lists each Lion yarn, yards, category, fiber content and recommended needle size. Since you put all of that info on the skein label, it can’t be that difficult to create a database with this ifo. Thanx.

    • Anonymous

      Hi WAM, to view that information, either go to LionBrand.com and click on the “Our Yarns” section — each yarn is listed their and when you click through to their individual pages, all of the yardage, weight category, fiber content, and needle size info is available. Alternately, go to LionBrand.com and under the “Learning Center” heading, there is a link to “Yarn Substitutions” which includes all of that info for current and discontinued yarns in alphabetical order as well.

  • knittingforever

    i always look at yardage as well – i guess it’s just common sense.  My problem has been when you find a pattern that you like that calls for some obscure yarn that is either foreign or no longer available and I can’t find the yardage anywhere – FRUSTRATING!

  • Tnh1999

    This a tip. I have made this mistake & the only thing that saved my project was that my yarn was not dye lot.

  • julieannie78

    Very helpful info, especially for someone like me who is recently self-taught and is learning as I go. I will definitely be looking for yardage info on my patterns!

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  • Wjmecca

    I always crochet a swatch before beginning a project, but I also wash it before beginning the project.  This helps alot, especially when I’m using a different yarn than called for.

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