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How Much Yarn Do I Need for a Crochet Project?

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Are you ready to start a new crochet project but not sure how much yarn to get? You’ve come to the right place! This article will teach you how to calculate how much yarn you’ll need for your crochet projects – even if you’re not working from a pattern.

With a little bit of swatching and some easy math, you’ll be able to figure out how much yarn you need for any project. So let’s get started!

balls of yellow yarn

Key Insights:

  • Calculating yarn requirements for a crochet project can be straightforward if you’re using a pattern, but it involves a bit more math if you’re creating your own design.
  • A small gauge swatch with your chosen yarn, hook, and stitch pattern will help you calculate how much yarn you’ll need for a larger project.
  • Your yarn requirements will depend on your gauge (how tightly or loosely you crochet), the stitch pattern, the yarn weight, and the size of your project.

How much yarn do I need?

“How much yarn do I need?” It’s a question that every crocheter has asked at some point. Figuring out the amount of yarn you need for a project can feel like a guessing game, especially as a crochet beginner.

In this article, we’ll show you exactly how to calculate how much yarn you’ll need for your project, saving you from unwanted trips to the craft store or being left with tons of leftover yarn.

We’ll start things off by explaining how to estimate yarn yardage with the help of a gauge swatch. We’ll walk you through crocheting a swatch, measuring it, and then using those measurements to calculate yarn requirements for your entire project.  From there, we’ll share a chart to help you estimate yardage for various types of projects. Let’s get started.

How to Determine Yarn Requirements

Your approach to figuring out how much yarn you’ll need will depend on whether you’re following a pattern or improvising your own design.

Are you working from a pattern?

If you’ve got a pattern, you’re in luck! Most patterns will clearly state how many yards or grams of yarn are required. For instance, if your project needs 500g of a specific yarn sold in 100g skeins, you just divide 500 by 100. That means you’ll need five skeins of yarn for your project. Simple!

Are you using a pattern, but substituting yarn?

Substituting yarn can be a bit tricky, but don’t worry. The best approach is to find a similar yarn in the same weight category as the original. If you can, try to choose a substitute with the same suggested gauge as the pattern gauge. Then, make a small test swatch to make sure you like the fabric created with the new yarn. 

Next, figure out how many skeins of the new yarn to buy. In this case, we’ll use the yardage measurement rather than the weight. 

For example, let’s say your pattern requires three skeins of yarn, each containing 500 yards. If you’re substituting with yarn sold in 250-yard skeins, you’ll need six skeins. 

Working without a pattern?

When designing your own pattern, the key is understanding how to make and use a gauge swatch. Armed with your swatch, a kitchen scale, and a little easy math, you can easily estimate how much yarn your project will require. Stay tuned; we’ll cover that next.

Calculating Yarn Yardage

Alright, let’s dig into the heart of the matter: how do you actually calculate how much yarn you’re going to need for your crochet project? Let’s break it down, step-by-step.

Step 1: Make a Gauge Swatch

After you’ve selected your materials and your stitch pattern, the next step is to make a gauge swatch. 

What’s a gauge swatch? It’s a small square of crochet (typically 4×4 inches) worked up using the yarn and hook you intend to use for your project. The gauge swatch serves two key purposes. 

  1. First, it lets you see and feel the fabric your chosen yarn, hook size, and stitch pattern will create. This is your opportunity to make sure you’re happy with the drape and texture of the fabric before you dive into your whole project. 
  2. Second, it helps you determine your gauge, or the number of stitches and rows you make per inch. 

Here are some guidelines for making your test swatch:

  • Use the same yarn, the same size hook, and the same stitch that you’re planning to use for your actual project. That’s important because different yarns, hook sizes, and stitch patterns can all change how much yarn you use.
  • Make your swatch large enough that you can get accurate measurements. I typically suggest at least a 4″ x 4″ (or 10cm x 10cm) square. But, the larger your swatch, the more accurate your yardage calculations will be.
  • Cut the yarn tails short. You don’t want the extra weight of the starting or ending yarn tails to skew your calculations in the next step.

Step 2: Measuring the Swatch

Once you’ve made your swatch (and are happy with the resulting fabric), it’s time to measure it.

  1. First, count the number of stitches across (width) and the number of rows (height). 
  2. Next, multiply the number of stitches (width) by the number of rows (height) to determine the total number of stitches in your swatch. So if you made a swatch 20 stitches wide and 10 rows high, you’d have 20 x 10 = 200 total stitches.
  3. Third, measure the weight of your swatch on a kitchen scale. For the most accurate results, record the weight of the swatch in grams or ounces, using a scale that can measure to the smallest decimal point possible.

Step 3: Calculating the Yardage

Now, we’ll do some simple calculations to measure how much yarn we used in the swatch, and how much yarn each stitch uses. Here’s what we’ll calculate:

  1. How much yarn per stitch
  2. Total stitches in the project
  3. Total yarn in the project
  4. Convert weight to yardage

Yarn per stitch 

First, we’ll calculate how much yarn we use to make each individual stitch. We do this by dividing the weight of the swatch by the total number of stitches. So if we used 10 grams for our 200-stitch swatch, that’s 20 ÷ 200 = 0.05 grams of yarn per stitch.

Total stitches in the project

The next step is to figure out how many stitches your entire project will have. We’ll calculate this by multiplying the project’s width in stitches by its height in rows. 

Let’s say you want to make a scarf that’s 8 inches wide and 60 inches long. Using your gauge swatch, you can calculate that the scarf will need to be 40 stitches wide by 150 rows long.

Stitch gauge: 20 stitches / 4 inches = 5 stitches per inch

5 stitches per inch * 8 inches = 40 stitches for the width of the scarf

Row gauge: 10 rows / 4 inches = 2.5 rows per inch

2.5 rows per inch * 60 inches = 150 rows for the length of the scarf

Multiply those numbers, and you’ve got 40 x 150 = 6,000 total stitches.

Total yarn in the project

Almost there! Now we find out how much yarn your project needs. We do this by multiplying the yarn used per stitch by the total stitches in the project.

0.05 grams per stitch x 6,000 stitches = 300 grams of yarn.

Converting weight to yardage

Great! So far, we’ve determined that our scarf project will require around 300 grams of yarn. Now, to convert that weight into yards, we’ll look at our yarn label. For this example, let’s say there are 185 yards in each 100-gram skein of our particular yarn.

So, how many yards are in 300 grams? Divide the number of grams we need (300) by the number of grams in a skein (100), then multiply by the yardage in a 100-gram skein (185) to get the total yardage needed:

300 grams / 100 * 185 yards= 555 yards

Therefore, we will need approximately 555 yards of this specific yarn to complete our scarf project.

a swatch of crochet shell stitch in gold yarn on a gray background

Calculating More Complicated Stitches

When working with more complex stitch patterns, like lace or intricate texture stitches, it can be more accurate to base your calculations on pattern repeats rather than individual stitches. 

To start, crochet a gauge swatch with several complete repeats. As mentioned above, a larger swatch will give you a more accurate estimate. Then, measure your gauge across a set number of repeats rather than counting individual stitches within a 4-inch square.

Next, calculate your project’s size in pattern repeats. For instance, if your project is a blanket, determine how many pattern repeats wide and long it will be.

Then, multiply the number of repeats by the amount of yarn used per repeat, following the instructions above. This will give you a good estimation of how much yarn your project will require.

Tip: Don’t Forget Extra Yarn

Remember, these calculations are estimates. It’s always a good idea to have a bit more yarn than you think you’ll need. Why? Well, maybe your swatch wasn’t a perfect representation of the whole project. Maybe you’ll want to add a border. Or maybe your pattern will require some extra yarn for seaming.

To be on the safe side, we recommend getting an additional 10-20% more yarn. So if our calculations say you need 300 grams, consider getting 330-360 grams instead.

Estimating Yarn for Different Types of Projects

With all this talk about calculations and swatches, you might be thinking, “But what if I’m working on something that’s not a simple square or rectangle? How do I calculate yardage then?” 

The basic steps are the same. First, you’ll make a swatch, weigh it, and calculate the amount of yarn in each stitch. Then, the trick is to calculate the number of stitches in the project. From there, multiply the total number of stitches by the amount of yarn per stitch to get your total yarn requirement.

Blankets & Afghans: For these rectangular projects, you’ll multiply the number of stitches in a row by the total number of rows in the blanket.

Scarves & Cowls: These are typically rectangular, just like blankers. And for infinity scarves or cowls, you can multiply the number of stitches in each round by the number of rounds in the project.

Hats & Beanies: Think of these projects like a small tube with a circle on top. For the body of the hat, you can use our normal stitches x rounds calculation. And for the crown of the hat, you can add up the stitch counts at the end of each round to get the total number of stitches.

But, if you just need a rough estimation, here is a yardage chart that you can reference.

Yardage by Project Type

Project TypeSuperfine (1)Fine (2)Light (3)Medium 
Bulky (5)Super Bulky (6)Jumbo (7)
Hat250-325 Yards250-325 Yards200-250 Yards200-225 Yards125-200 Yards125-150 Yards30-60 Yards
Scarf525-825 Yards450-625 Yards375-500 Yards375-500 Yards250-375 Yards250-375 Yards125-200 Yards
Socks350-500 Yards300-450 Yards275-400 Yards275-375 Yards250-350 Yards200-250 Yards175-200 Yards
Shawl550-850 Yards450-700 Yards400-625 Yards375-550 Yards350-500 Yards350-475 Yards300-400 Yards
Adult Sweater3375 Yards1750-2625 Yards1500-2250 Yards1125-1625 Yards950-1125 Yards825-1125 Yards825-1125 Yards
Baby Blanket1500-1625 Yards1250-1500 Yards1125-1250 Yards1000-1125 Yards875-1000 Yards750-875 Yards625-750 Yards
Afghan3750-4125 Yards3500-3750 Yards3000-3500 Yards2250-3125 Yards2000-2250 Yards1625-2000 Yards1375-1625 Yards
Table provided by Lion Brand.

Factors That Can Affect Yarn Usage

Before we wrap up, let’s talk about some factors that can affect how much yarn you’ll use.

Yarn Weight: Projects made with thinner yarn will require more yardage than the same-size projects made with thicker yarn. For more about yarn weight, check out our yarn weight guide here.

Stitch type: Different stitches do use different amounts of yarn. For example, shorter stitches, like single crochet, will use more yarn than taller stitches, like double crochet. And textured stitches like bobbles will use more yarn than flatter stitches.

Hook Size: Generally, using a smaller hook will require more yarn as it creates tighter, denser stitches. For more information about crochet hooks, check out our crochet hook size chart here.

Gauge: This refers to the tightness or looseness of your stitches. If you crochet tightly, you’ll likely end up using more yarn.

Project Size: And, of course, the size of your project will significantly affect the amount of yarn you need. As you can imagine, a small dishcloth will require far less yarn than a large blanket. 

What’s Next?

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Annie G

Saturday 28th of October 2023

Awesome article. How would you determine the amount needed on a corner to corner blanket?

Sarah Stearns

Monday 30th of October 2023

Hi Annie, I would crochet a swatch, say 6" by 6" or larger. Then weigh the swatch, and divide the weight in grams by the number of square inches in the swatch to get grams per inch. Then, mulitply that number by the total square inches in your desired blanket to get the total number of grams you'll need.

For example, if your 6" square swatch weighs 18 grams, then you'll divide 18/36 to get .5 grams per square inch. Then, if you're desired blanket size is 48 x 60, you'll multiply .5*48*60 to get 1440 grams. This gives you a good estimate of 1440 grams of yarn to make that size blanket.