Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Figuring Out Yarn Requirments

Yesterday, I wrote about the new Japanese Vest KAL that is going on at the Japanese Knit and Crochet board on Ravelry for a Japanese Vest Knitting Pattern. One of the questions that came up was how much yarn is needed to make the vest.

There are several challenges in determining how much yarn to use to knit the vest with the language barrier being the biggest! But even if you get past that, there are still several other challenges. First, Japanese knitting patterns are usually sized for one, at best 2, sizes. Second, the yarn that is used in the patterns is typically not available in the US. And third, the needle sizes used in Japan are different then the metric or US sizes.

To get past the language barrier I use the translate feature on the Google toolbar on IE to help me. Here is what I get when I translate the page:

For the yarn requirements it states that you need 7 balls of the yarn used for the pattern. The yarn is 40 grams with 54 meters. So to knit the pattern for the size on the pattern you will need about 280 grams or 378 meters. So converting 378 meters to yards, I get about 413 yards.

413 yards doesn't seem like a lot of yarn. But then you have to remember that this is for a size 36 inch bust or really smaller because you have to figure in ease which in this case should be 2 to 4 inches. So we are talking a 32 to 34 inch bust measurement. I wear a 42 inch and with 2 to 4 inches ease, I need a vest that is 44 to 46 inches so that I can wear it over shirts and still be comfortable.

The yarn that is used in the pattern appears to be a worsted weight yarn. I can only guess this based on the needle size recommended for the yarn which is an 8 to 10 Japanese. Using a needle conversion chart, I see that an 8 to 10 needle is similar to 7 to 8 US needle. If I look on the Standard Yarn Weight chart, it suggests that a 7 to 9 US needle is used for #4 Worsted, Afghan, Aran yarn.

So knowing that I need to use worsted weight yarn, I need to figure out how much yarn to buy for this pattern. I could convert the pattern and try to estimate based on that, but I'm not ready to do that. So instead, I'll use a yarn estimator from Elann.com.

The chart is the amount of yarn needed to make a sweater and they suggest using 20% less for a short sleeve one. Since this vest has cables on it which uses more yarn then stockinette stitch, I'll use that to make a conservative estimate.

So for me, using worsted weight I need 1800m to 1600m for a sweater and 20% less is 1400 to 1280 meters. In yards this is 1531 to 1400 yards. If I use Aran weight I need 1600m to 1425m for a sweater and 20% less is 1280 to 1140 meters. In yards this is 1400 to 1247 yards.

So now I know that I need about 1300 to 1400 yards worsted weight yarn. I'd like to find one with wool/nylon blend like in the pattern but I don't know of one off the top of my head. But if I was to use a 100% wool yarn like Cascade 220, I'd need about 6 skeins.

Okay, enough for the match today. I started on a swatch of the chart last night and ran into problems with one of the symbols. So I need to figure that out next.


Trang said...


this website offer a free download pdf of interpreting japanese knitting patterns which i found fairly useful. I'm not adventurous enough to try out one by myself yet. good luck

Farahana said...

Thank you for your info regarding the japanese hooks. I also found myself in a difficult situations where I thought that the number mentioned is the hook size in mm, that is why my projects for baby is larger than it should have been.
Now, I know the real hook sizes for japanese pattern.