Friday, July 2, 2010

Question from Reader: Short On Yarn?

Last week I received an email from Susan:

Dear Dee,
I found a crochet pattern I love and bought yarn for it, only to discover I didn't have enough yarn! I bought the exact yardage the pattern called for. Do you know why I ran out? Baffled, Susan

Yes, Susan, I do!

I've discussed this "yarn shortage" issue on my blog here a couple of times, and I think it is always a good topic to keep coming back to as there is nothing worse, imho, than being short on yarn!

There are a few reasons why we would be short on yarn:

  1. our gauge is off. Not all crocheters crochet alike. Some make tight stitches, some make tall. Some even "rob" yarn from stitches by yanking on the (feed) yarn as each stitch is made. After teaching crochet for a number of years and watching others crochet, I came to label these styles as "Riders," "Lifters," and "Yankers." In 2009 Doris Chan wrote an excellent article, called "Gauge Crashers" for Interweave Crochet magazine, and followed it up with this blog entry. We also discuss these crochet styles often over at the website. Knowing what type of crocheter you are AND matching the designer's gauge is important, so if your gauge is off, you could be burning through more yarn than you should.

  2. Dee's project is short on yarnnot all yarn is created equal. This has to do with the actual dye that brings color to our yarn. The more dye used, say for a red, blue or black yarn, the less yardage you will get per skein/hank when compared to a white, cream or yellow yarn because the dye adds weight to it. When the yarn is weighed, the dye used takes up the weight of yardage; the more dye, the less yarn we get per skein/hank. And certainly, this can differ from skein to skein, even within the same dye lot. (in the picture is a project I am working on (ignore the color variance as that is sunshine poking through the tree leaves when I snapped the picture) -- using the same yarn from a factory sealed bag, one piece is short 3.5 rows worth of stitches! This is why I'm happy I have more yarn!)
  3. knots, knots, knots, otherwise known as "unwanted gifts from the yarn manufacturer." Since we need to cut the knots out of our skeins/hanks rather than work them into our projects, we could find ourselves short on yarn with each rejoining we need to do. (OK, why do we want to cut the knots out? Because knots eventually come undone and will cause a big hole in our work. And prior to the knots coming undone, they'll keep popping up in our work like big ugly pimples. And who wants ugly pimples in their crochet work? Eww!)
    Are the knots in our yarn legal? Yes. Yarn isn't the same as say Ben & Jerry's ice cream where when they mess up they sell the goofs as "Seconds." Are the knots a pain in the neck? Yes. Fortunately, if you find a skein/hank with WAY too many knots (hey, it happens!) most yarn manufactures will be happy to replace it. Unfortunately, not always are they able to match the dye lot.

What this means, Susan, is that when you shop for yarn for a given project ALWAYS buy one or two skeins/hanks more than what the pattern is called for. This will ensure the dye lot matches AND that you will have enough to finish your project.

Thanks for writing in! :)


Cami said...

That's interesting. I didn't know about the dye thing. Sad to think we have to buy more yarn to make up for these issues- especially for the more expensive yarn. But oh well. :) Thanks!

Sandie said...

Righto, Dee. I try to always buy extra yarn if I have a particular project in mind. Also, another culprit of the run-out-of-yarn could be that the designer miscalculated the amount of yarn needed. That probably doesn't happen too often, but could happen on occasion.

digifigi said...

After Chainlink I'm not short on yarn, yet, but I am short on hearing from Dee. You've had two weeks to recover, what's new with you?