How Much Yarn Do I Need To Buy For My Pattern?

Author: Ewe-Nice   Date Posted:3 August 2023 

One of the easiest ways to make a pattern unique is to substitute the yarn and it is also the question we are asked the most- “I want to make this pattern but how much yarn do I need to buy?” 

Firstly, it’s the number of meters needed not the number of balls or the physical weight that’s important. Not all yarn is created equal, for example, 100g of an 8ply can have between 180m and 260m of yarn. If your pattern says 5 balls and they used yarn with 260m of yarn and yours only has 180m you will be 400m short!  

If your pattern gives the meterage needed then finding the amount to buy is easy. Take the total meterage needed and divide it by the meters on a ball/skein and you have your answer. However, many traditional patterns, give the number of balls or a physical weight of yarn. While this still allows for substitutions, it requires a little maths. 

Firstly, you need to work out the meterage needed by finding out the details of the yarn used in the pattern. I tend to use Ravelry for this and search for the yarn in the “Yarns” section. Once you know the number of meters on a ball you can work out the meterage needed using the formula below: 

If weight is given:

Total grams needed / Grams per pattern ball = Pattern balls needed 

Pattern balls needed * Meterage on pattern ball = Total meters needed 

If number of balls is given: 

Pattern balls needed * Meterage on pattern ball = Total meters needed 

Then you work out the number of balls you need using this formula: 

Total meters needed / Meters on substituted yarn = Balls needed in your yarn (always round up) 


Many people often also buy an extra ball to make sure they have enough. For myself, if my maths means I need 3.5 skeins, I will buy just 4 skeins, however, if my pattern says I need 3.9 skeins I may consider the extra and get 5, especially if I may want to add some length. I may also consider buying just 3 skeins if the pattern says it needs 3.1 skeins. I can maybe lose a row or 2 in lengthn or do 3/4 or bracelet length sleeves and save a little money, but this does mean I run the risk of running out of yarn!  

If this all sounds too daunting, then please just get in touch with the yarn you want to use, and the pattern name and we will do the maths for you! 

Hope you find this information helpful!

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