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Calculating Yarn Substitutions - How much is enough? 

How many balls of your substitute yarn will you need to complete your chosen project? The answer is just a few easy calculations away.

Step One: Determine the quantitiy of yarn needed to complete the project in the yarn listed in the pattern.

Find the number of balls required for each color and then find the number of yards (or meters) per ball or skein of that yarn.

Multiply the number of yards (or meters) in each ball times the number of balls.

Example: Let's say the pattern requires 9 balls of yarn, and each ball is made up of 200 yards (182 meters). Multiply 9 times 200 = 1,800 yards (or 9 x 182 = 1,638 meters). The total yardage required is 
1800 yards (or 1,638meters).

Step Two: Figure out the new quantity

Determine the number of yards (or meters) per ball or skein of your new yarn. The yardage should be listed on the ball band or skein tag. Divide the total yardage required (from Step One) by the yardage of your new yarn.

Example: If the new ball of yarn has a yardage of 109 yards(100 meters) divide the total yardage by that: 
1,800/109 (or 1638/100)=16.5 balls.
Since you can't buy half of a ball, you need 17 balls of your replacement yarn. 
If more than one yarn is used in the pattern, repeat steps 1 and 2.


Make sure that you are consistent when you use yards or meters. Stick with one system. If you multiplied yards times the number of balls, make sure you divide by yards, not meters, for the replacement ball.

Some patterns are double stranded, or they are knit by holding to strands of yarn together.The gauge of these patterns is often measured by swatching the two yarns together.

When substituting a yarn, take care to find a yarn that is either the same gauge as one strand of the yarn used by the pattern or find a heavier yarn that matches the gauge of the pattern.