A couple bits from my mailbox today, plus a long-lost toy.

Yards, grams, and ounces

A reader wrote to ask how to convert ounces and grams to yards, because she’d found a pattern and wanted to buy enough yarn to knit it. I answered with this:

You can’t convert ounces and grams to yards. Yards measures length. Ounces and grams measure weight. One ounce equals 28.35 grams (give or take). One gram equals roughly 0.35 ounces. There are dozens of conversion calculators on the web that can help you flip between the two if you don’t have a calculator or pencil and paper to hand.

Let’s say you had 1.75 ounces (roughly 50 grams) of a 100% wool. You could have about 250 yards of fine fingering weight yarn, or around 135 yards of sport weight wool, or around 120 yards of DK weight wool, or around 100 yards of worsted, or about 80 yards of bulky. And that’s without factoring in stuff like how lofty or dense the yarn is, whether or not it’s made up of multiple strands tightly twisted, or one giant fluffy strand. One five stitch per inch worsted for example might be about 110 yards for 50 grams, but another might be only 90, all depending on the denseness of the strand.

This is further complicated by fiber blends. 1.75 ounces of acrylic at 5 stitches per inch (the textbook definition of worsted) might have significantly higher yardage than 1.75 ounces of 5 stitch per inch wool because the acrylic fiber is in and of itself less massy.

All this being said, there are very loose guidelines of roughly how much yardage a pound of yarn might contain. But remember – use these numbers as a rough guideline only, and only for the fiber type and gauge specified. If you’re planning a yarn purchase and are going on only this type of info – buy at least 25% more than you think you need. I can guarantee that three times out of four, you’ll end up using more yarn than you originally planned. Here’s one set of rough yards per pound figures. Remember – it’s for hand-spun 100% wool only.

Why post patterns for free?

Another person wrote to ask why I post patterns for free. She specifically asked if I was doing it to undercut the people who charged, and wondered why I didn’t write for magazines or other publishers. I wrote back:

I’m flattered that you think my patterns are good enough for professional publication. I think they’re borderline. I don’t do lots of multiple sizes, they tend to be pretty sketchy. Some are more like method descriptions than hard and fast patterns with set yarn quantities.

I post patterns because I find the process of working out the problems they present to be fascinating. My patterns are posted more as a by-product of that exploration rather than the cumulative product. I want to share the fun of both inquiry and production.

I have dabbled in writing patterns for a yarn maker and an on-line magazine. I’m a proposal writer by trade. I spend my professional life running the gauntlet of multiple concurrent hard-stop deadlines. Knitting is an area where my only deadline is “whenever.” I found out that harnessing the creative process to a fixed delivery framework squeezed all the fun (and much of the creativity) out of it. I can’t work under a mandate that inspiration will occur between Thursday next and the 30th of the month, will involve one particular technique and one particular yarn in a color not of my choosing; or that the finished object and full proofed pattern in five sizes will be delivered without delay within 15 days of yarn receipt. Even the web-based magazines brook no delay. So I retreat to my own deadline-free tenth-of-never world, doing whatever the heck I want, when I want to do it.

Why not self-publish and sell the result? Because the burden of handling the business end of the thing (payments, refunds, shipments or downloads, record keeping for taxes) is not commensurate with the pocket change income the effort would bring. I’m re-thinking this in reference to my embroidery book, but to do it for lots of little knitting patterns would be a big pain. Also because patterns people pay for are held to a higher standard than are give-aways. To be competitive, I’d have to knit the trial in a color that photographs well (opposed to the color I want to use), figure out that range of sizes, and use a much higher standard of test knitting than I currently do. While I don’t put out junk as a rule, errors are there. I get to them when I can. But I don’t want to knit everything twice or more – once to create it and at least once more to test the directions, possibly trying out every size offered.

Long Lost Toy

Well, not lost. It’s been sitting in a corner for a while. I made it for Larger Daughter when she was four. Now that Smaller Daughter is out of the hobby horse years, poor Hero isn’t seeing much action. But he’s one of my favorite projects, out of all the things I have ever made.

I had no pattern, some black and green Melton wool scraps left over from some SCA outfits, stuffing, a stick, two brass rings, plus a bit of trim, glue-on jewels, a couple of and bells left over from making holiday ornaments. I improvised and here’s the result.


A stick horse menacing enough for a Nazgul’s child. Needless to say Hero will be spending his retirement here, and not getting passed down to anyone else.

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One response

  1. That Hero is seriously cool!

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