By Denise Williams

The number one question I am always asked when one wants to spin for a project is – how much fiber do I need to spin?

There are some factors that need to be considered, such as fiber type and yarn weight, but there are also some quick and dirty guidelines that will help you along the way.

One way to figure how much fiber you need is to find an article similar to the one you would like to make and weigh it. Take your favorite hat, scarf, or sweater and put it on a scale. While this is a quick way to get a rough estimate, it’s not the most accurate. Firstly, if the item to use is not a natural fiber, it can weight less than that equivalent natural fiber would.  Acrylic generally weighs less than wool. Also, different natural fibers have different weights, because of fiber density. Four ounces of Alpaca are more dense than four ounces of a soft wool like Merino.

A more accurate way is to find a pattern for an item you want to make.  Check the type of yarn used, by weight and yardage, and use that to estimate how much fiber you need, and the weight of yarn you need. Ravelry and AllKnitting.com are great sources of free patterns for comparison. Be sure to add a bit of extra fiber, especially if you are using raw wool. You will lose some of that weight in the wash, to processing and some to shrinkage.

I am planning a hat with the mixed breed sheep wool. I want a dk/worsted weight yarn, and I need approx 175-200 yards. The best thing about the sample I completed in the last blog is I now know how much yardage I can get from a measurable amount of yarn. With a little math, yards/lb (convert the oz into lbs), I can make a really accurate guess as to how much wool I need to process for this hat. Even without such an accurate count, I know from experience that 4 oz of wool will easily get me enough for this hat.   In the next part I’ll discuss how to keep my yarn consistent while spinning.