How to Determine the Amount of Yarn Needed

So, I have been watching the Elizabeth Zimmermann discs and following along in the book and I'm going to attempt the "Seamless Sweater" (Thunder and Lightening begin as Geoff barely speaks the words).
I love all the percentages, being a math teacher; however, she doesn't tell you how to calculate the amount of yarn needed. Is there a nice easy ratio or formula out there? It would have to be based on the gauge but when you add in things like cables or other colours you need more or less yarn. What's the secret.


QueerJoe's picture

Whenever I buy yarn in fingering, DK/Sport or Worsted weight, I try to buy enough to make a sweater that would fit me.

My sweaters are usually about 52 inches around the chest and about 26 inches from shoulder to bottom.

Worsted weight - I buy about 1500 yards
DK/Sport weight - I buy about 1750 yards
Fingering - I buy about 2000 yards

If the yarn is tweedy or made of some Shetland wool, I may add about 15% more in case I decide to do cabling or pattern work that will take up more yarn.

stef's picture

I knit a swatch of about 1" by 1", mark the beginning of the swatch and the end, unravel it, then measure the yarn. You should know the finished measurements of the project and you should be able to calculate it from this

albert's picture

Very simple, but sensible; I'll try this method.

RareSteek's picture

Also, Interweave Press publishes a little yarn amounts folder written by Ann Budd in which she calculates the amounts needed for sweaters in various sizes and gauges. As a rough guide it is pretty handy, although if you are doing a lot of cabling etc. you need to add to the suggested amount. It is available in a lot of yarn stores. Somewhere around $6 I think.