The Many Ways of Measuring Yarn

measuring yarn

measuring yarn

Knit Together with Cynthia MacDougall

A beginning knitter recently observed that the yarn for one of her knitting patterns was listed in yards and grams. She observed that these are two different methods of measurement and she asked me, “How do you know if the weight the pattern says will be enough to make a sweater?”
Both, yards (or metres) and grams (or ounces) are systems of measurement. Yards and metres are linear measures; grams and ounces are measures of mass. Used together, these two measures offer clues about the third way to measure yarn: thickness or grist. Grist is a broad enough topic for another article, so, this article will focus on linear and mass measurements.
So much about knitting is variable. Yarn weight and yardage information in patterns are usually estimated. A difference in the tension, or gauge, will impact the take-up of yarn, and affect the amount of yarn needed to complete the project. Adjustments for the wearer – sleeve length, for example – may require more or less yarn. Substituting a different yarn than the one called for by the pattern may change the amount of yarn needed to complete a project. Some of the information on ball bands is estimated. In short, individual results may vary.
Designers usually create patterns for one size and make adjustments for other sizes using a process called ‘grading.’ Unless the knitter is making the size the designer used to create the base size for the pattern, both the grams and yardage of yarn given in the pattern are estimates. Sometimes a pattern will be test-knit in more than one size, but, generally, the yarn amounts are estimated by using mathematical calculations based upon the amount of yarn used to make the sample garment.
Read more in our Spring 2011 issue.

Cynthia Macdougall

Article by Cynthia MacDougall
blog: cgknitters.blogspot.com
ravelry name: macknitnow

Canadian Guild of  Knitters Logo