How Much Yarn Do I Need to Knit a Sweater?

There's nothing more frustrating than playing "yarn chicken" or worrying about whether you have enough yarn to finish a project.

This is especially true for SWEATERS.

And doubly true for sweaters that you want to fit beautifully and wear in public!

First, how thick is the yarn?

For some reason, yarn manufacturers refer to yarn thickness as "weight." Heavyweight yarns (jumbo, super bulky, bulky) are thicker, and lightweight yarns (DK, sport, fingering, lace) are thinner.

Medium weight yarns include worsted and Aran weight. These are generally considered to be the best yarn for beginners. Worsted weight also comes in "light worsted" or "heavy worsted" just to complicate matters.

We'll be using super bulky yarn for the 12 Day Sweater Challenge

When combined with US size 15-19 needles (10-15 mm), sweaters made with super bulky yarn practically knit themselves.


Next, make these design decisions

I knitted the Striped Raglan with stash busting in mind.

So I wasn't too concerned about running out of yarn.

I'd simply add another yarn that more or less coordinated with the color scheme. In this case, raspberry and creme with hints of gold:


I tracked the yardage on Ravelry as I went along. The result? 1300 yards, including brushed alpaca (held doubled), Loopy Mango tweed with hot pink and gold flecks, and a delicious hot pink-to-white gradient yarn from Freia Handpaint.

Here are the design decisions that will influence your yardage:

  1. Long sleeves or short sleeves?
  2. Fluffy sleeves (as in my sample sweater) or more fitted sleeves?
  3. Long sweater body, hitting along the waist, or cropped?

 How many yards in each skein/ball of yarn?

Using Loopy Mango Mohair So Soft and US size 19 needles for a long sleeved, fluffy sleeved, waist length sweater would require:

6 balls for size small

8 balls for size large

10 or more for sizes 2X and up.

Each ball is 65 yards. 

Number of balls X yards per ball = your sweater yardage

Small 390 yards
Large 520 yards
2X and up 650 yards and up


 Note: sizes in women's wear are notoriously... ahem... fickle. (I wanted to write "effed up" but this is a PG rated blog.) The best way to knit sweaters that fit you well is to give it a try. It's sort of like being a knitting scientist. 

Hypothesis: Using X pattern and Y yarn with Z needles, I'll end up with a sweater that fits me beautifully.

Pattern designers will give you all the tools they can -- some with more clarity and care than others -- but in the end it's your experience and practice that will yield the best results.

*** Join us for the 12-Day Sweater Challenge on June 6th ***

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