A Weighty Subject

I’ve been made aware (in a traumatic way) that not all skeins of yarn are created equal – they don’t all weigh what the label says they do.

Recently, I was knitting this lovely small shawl

Blue Lagoon Scarf/Shawlette

and I ran out of yarn long, long before I should have.  The only reason I caught on is that this was the second time I used that yarn to knit the same pattern.

The yarn was Knitpicks Chroma fingering weight.  I called the nice Customer Service queen and she apologized profusely and immediately dispatched another ball at no charge.  She asked me to let her know if there was a problem with the new ball, because that might indicate there were short weights for the whole dye lot.

The new ball was fine, but this whole experience made me think (uh-oh) and I began to weigh many different yarns.

Here are some results.

Yarn

Labeled Weight (grams)

Actual Weight (grams)

Noro Kureyon             100               99
            100               90
Noro Kochoran             100               92
            100              107
            100              107
            100              103
            100              97
            100              92
KnitPicks Gloss DK             50              47
            50             49
            50             50
            50             52
Karabella Soft Tweed             50             53
            50             50
            50             50
KnitPicks Stroll             100             102
Noro Silver Thaw             100             97

What I discovered:

1.  Yarn weights are all over the place.  8 were under weight, 6 were over weight, and only 3 were accurate.

2.  Some of the underweight balls were very short, up to 10% less than labeled.  This can cause a big problem if the weight indicates that there is less yardage than labeled.

3.  Noro was the worst offender.  The reason I weighed so many Noro yarns is because my first results were so crazy (and because I have a lot of Noro).  Karabella was pretty consistent, Knitpicks Gloss was pretty close to stated weight or a bit over.

Now, all this brought more questions to my inquiring mind.

What does it all mean?  Is the yardage short?  Is the yarn underweight because it lost moisture in storage?  Does humidity in my house affect the weight?

I am willing to believe moisture is a factor, but 10% underweight is a bit much.  I googled around a bit – searched underweight yarn skeins – and found plenty of yarns for sale with the disclaimer “slightly underweight”.

Of course, I absolutely do not believe any of this is done purposely.  But, it’s impossible to know how much yarn I use if I don’t know what I started with.  And sometimes I need to know.  For example, when designing a pattern it’s necessary to know how much yarn it takes.   Also, if I don’t know how much I started with, I don’t know what I have left.  Since I often use leftovers for smaller projects, that matters to me.

So,  I’m weighing all my skeins from now on before I knit them.  I’ll record the weights on my Ravelry project page.  And, if I notice a consistent pattern of shortages then I’ll be able to make an informed decision about buying that yarn in future.

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3 thoughts on “A Weighty Subject”

  1. How very interesting! I had no idea there was such a discrepancy. Must check my yarns in the future. Like you, I have had ‘experiences’ where I’ve run out before I should. That’s how I check my own spinning – by weighing each cake of yarn once spun. However, I have no idea what the yardage is. I haven’t started doing that yet. Doesn’t matter when I’m doing it just for me, but when you’re selling something, more care is necessary, surely. All adds up, doesn’t it!

  2. I think most mills can measure length more accurately than weight, so they reel off the appropriate length, and if it is a bit on the skinny side they have no way of knowing. Also, the larger companies do base their business on the weight of a whole bag, usually of 10, as an aggregate, and assume that each ball within is equal. I had an issue with Cascade 220SW a while ago, being underweight….

  3. According to some yarn manufacturers, humidity affects the yarn weight and can cause variations of up to +/- 10%. Annoying! I only weigh beforehand if it’s a project where I know I’ll need every last metre!

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