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Yarn Substitution Made Easy!!

Did you know there’s an online yarn database that will automatically find the best substitutions for almost any yarn?! Go to, enter the yarn you’d like to replace, and it will give you the top yarn matches based on length/weight, density, fiber, yarn construction, etc.

The standard for knit and crochet patterns is to list the required amount of yarn in length – meters or yards. This can help facilitate yarn substitution of a similar gauge, yarn weight, etc. It allows you to have more freedom of yarn selection while helping you to purchase enough yarn for your project. There are numerous times when you are unsure of yarn length. At those moments, it’s beneficial to know how to calculate yarn length by weight.

Every type of yarn has a yards per ounce or meters per gram value. It’s not something that is clearly listed on the yarn label, but the label gives you all the information you need to calculate the length/weight measurement yourself.

It’s a basic math formula and the operations are actually found in the measurement you are trying to find. Yards per ounce can also be defined as yards/ounce or yards divided by ounces. The same is true for meters per gram (meters/gram, meters divided by grams). So if you have those standards from your yarn label, you can get the yarn’s length/weight value.

Once you have that number, it’s easy to calculate your yarn length by weight that’s left in a skein (ball, hank, cake – I’m going to use skein as a generic term) or used in a finished project. To calculate your partial skein or project length, you take the weight of your skein or project and multiply it by the length/weight value.

I’m going to show you how to calculate yarn length by weight in a couple of examples, but don’t let it overwhelm you. Below the examples are online calculators you can use to input your data and let the calculator do the work for you! I wanted to provide more information for those who would rather understand how the calculations are performed. Plus, it’s handy to know in case you need your numbers but don’t have access to these calculators in the moment 🙂

Example – Leftover Yarn Calculation

I have a partial skein of Paintbox Yarns Cotton DK leftover from another project that I’d like to use to make a project requiring 40 yards (36.58 meters). How do I calculate if I have enough yarn?

I first need to calculate the length/weight value. To do so, I find the total length and weight of a full skein on the yarn label. For my yarn, it is 137 yards (125 meters) and 1.75 ounces (50 grams).

For U.S. Standard, I perform this calculation: 137 yards divided by 1.75 ounces to get 78.29 yards/ounces.

For metric, I perform this calculation: 125 meters divided by 50 grams to get 2.5 meters/gram.

Now I weigh my partial skein, which is .75 ounces (21.26 grams). To calculate my leftover skein length, I multiply my length/weight value from above by the remaining weight.

For U.S. Standard, it’s 78.29 yards/ounces times by .74 ounces to arrive at 57.93 remaining yards.

For metric, it’s 2.5 meters/grams times by 21 grams to get 52.5 meters remaining.

Yahoo! I should have enough yarn leftover to complete my new project* 🙂

I’ve been highly impressed by my Brifit scale. It’s an inexpensive, but highly accurate small scale that will allow you to weigh even small projects or partial skeins!

Example – Yarn Used in a Project

I made a simple coaster in Paintbox Yarns Cotton DK that everyone seems to love, so I’d like to share a quick pattern. But I have no idea how much yarn I used. Yikes! To calculate the project yarn length, I would do almost as above. Except, this time, I substitute my project weight for the leftover skein weight.

I’ve already got my length/weight value, so I weigh my finished coaster, which is .25 ounces (7.09 grams). I multiply my length/weight value by my project weight.

For U.S. Standard, 78.29 yards/ounces times by .25 ounces for an approximately length of 19.57 yards*.

For metric, 2.5 meters/gram times by 7.09 grams to get a length of about 17.73 meters*.

Now that you understand the mechanics, you can calculate yarn length by weight anytime on a pad of paper. Or, for a simpler method, simply enter in the required data below to let our calculators do the work for you!

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