How to work out how many balls I need!!

We all have patterns that we love, but want to make the project in a different yarn, but how to work out what we can use and how many balls we will need can be tricky, so, here are some hints and tips to make it easy!


1. If your pattern is for a standard weight of yarn – you can make the same pattern in any other standard  yarn of the same weight, i.e.  4 ply, double knit, aran, chunky or superchunky.

The best indicator of a yarn weight is the tension stated in the pattern and the size of needles used, so…

Here, as a rule of thumb are the standard tensions and needle size for each yarn:

4ply yarn is 28 stitches and 36 rows over a 10cm / 4” square using on 3.25mm needles


Double Knitting (dk) yarn is 22 stitches and 28 rows over a 10cm / 4” square using on 4mm needles


Aran weight yarn is 18 stitches and 24  rows over a 10cm / 4” square using 5mm needles


Chunky yarn is 14 stitches and 19 rows over a 10cm / 4” square using 6mm needles


Superchunky yarn is 10 stitches and 14 rows over a 10cm / 4” square using 10mm needles

You can substitute any standard weight yarn for another in the same yarn weight but it doesn’t work if you are for example wanting to use an aran pattern for a superchunky pattern.

2. It is generally best to knit a tension square in your alternative yarn to make sure that your finished project will look how you want it to before you make a whole garment.


3. How do I work out how many balls I will need? 

We quite often see that people feel daunted by working out how many balls they will need, so here is a simple system that we really hope will help (this applies to any weight of yarn)

Total number of metres needed for your project

Divided by

the number of metres in each ball of your alternative yarn

= number of balls needed

Here’s an example;

pattern says I need 6 balls of yarn and each ball has 180m, so the total number of metres I need is 1,080

The yarn I want to use has 125m, so I divide 1,080 by 125 which = 8.64

So, I now know that I will need 9 balls of my alternative yarn to complete my project.

Hope this helps!