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How much yarn do I need?

siseltikva's picture

Hello! I'm sorry to be posting again. I've been looking around, and haven't been able to find a general way to figure out how much yarn I will need. I'm completely new to weaving, and am slowly becoming more comfortable with the terms, but still am not sure about everything. My sister and good friend both weave, and could probably tell me how they calculate for their warps and wefts, but they are used to floor looms and I didn't know if it would be different for a backstrap loom. I guess to go along with that, how far apart do my warping pegs need to be? Is that the length of the desired piece (plus finishing and extras)? 

I have plenty of extra yarn I can play with for now, but I would like to know what to be looking for (as far as yardage goes) when I go to buy things purposely for a project.

Anyway, just thought I'd ask. And this might be somewhere else on this group, I just couldn't find it. At least not in a general sense. So just let me know if I missed it! :)

These might be elementary questions, I'm just trying to figure out how it all goes together and what effects what.

Thanks for being so helpful!

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mischiefmanaged's picture
Joined: 07/19/2009
I'm pretty inexperienced

I'm pretty inexperienced also, having made only a few projects. I estimate my amounts of warp and weft for backstrap weaving the same way I did when I did rigid heddle weaving. I think you could use the same formulas as your sister although there is less "loom waste" with a backstrap loom than with a floor loom because you don't need as much extra yarn for tying on the warp. You need to be able to wind a warp on pegs the full length needed including the loom waste and takeup.

No worries about asking elementary questions and don't apologize for posting again! We all learn together here.  There are a lot of very helpful FAQ topics in this group, and welcome.   :)  Cindy

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Joined: 06/20/2009
Yes, please ask away Tara.

Yes, please ask away Tara. This is what this forum is for. Cindy has told you about the warping posts. I f you read my WeaveZine article you will see a backstrap that I wove using a 36'' warp, that is, using two warping stakes 36'' apart. From there you can see how long the finished piece was,  and, as Cindy said -there is little waste in backstrap weaving. You will see that length is lost in take up-basically if you start out with a 36'' warp you won't end up with a 36'' long piece.. The amount of take up will depend on the thickness of your yarn and whether you are doing a warp faced, weft faced or balanced weave.


Give us an idea of your project. I imagine you are not diving straight into your rebozo yet. You can weave something as small as a keyfob or bookmark to start with or a backstrap or a narrow band for a bag strap or hatband. Do you want to weve a warp faced piece or a balanced weave. Do you want to use a heavy or lightweight yarn? You need to take all this this into account. Let us know what you would like to make and we can help you wth the yarn calculation.

A you saw from the responses to your rebozo question last night, we all love to help out and ''get involved'' in each others' projects!


0 users have voted.
Joined: 08/27/2009
when I figure amounts of yarn

when I figure amounts of yarn for a backstrap project (or an inkle weave project), I take my finished lenght that I wish and mulitply it by 1.10 or 1.15 (you use the bigger number for larger diameter yarn, and the smaller number for finer thread.

At the end of the project, When I am all done, and go back and check if my numbers were correct, I find that the actual numbers were about 1.07 to 1.12... but the larger numbers gives you some 'fudge factor" or a chance to weave an inch or two of 'wonky' weave to decide how tight to pull the weft.

so... if I want a 24" table runner with 3" fringe.. I do the math like this:

3+24 +3= 30"

(30" ) * (1.12) = 33.6   [ * is multiply on keyboard]

so I will warp at least 34 inches, but probbly will warp 36"...

now, you take the 36" and multiply that by threads per inch and width of project.


so... 36 * 20 threads per inch * 8" =  5760 inches


5760/ 36" = 160 yards. ... so look for a ball of yarn that is longer than 160 yards.

Remember... yarn is just like lumber... you can cut it shorter, but not longer. Do you rember the joke about the mythical "board streacher" that the experienced carpenters send the new guy for when the new guy cuts the board an inch too short?

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Joined: 08/27/2009
the above measurements were

the above measurements were for the warp only...

you also have to do the weft"


(for weft faced fabrics, your picks per inch will be between half and 0.75 of your threads per inch)


24 inches x 15 picks per inch x 8 inches wide = 2880 inces

2880/ 36 = 80 yards weft...


so total yarn for project = 80 yards weft + 160 yards warp = 240 yards total needed

so.. buy twice that amount of yarn if it is inexpensive... (2 balls of merciededs cotton)... or 1.5 times the total if the yarn is expensive... so 360 yards of expensive yarn.

hope that helps... of course you have to do this for each project... or you just get a "feel" for how much yarn you will need.


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siseltikva's picture
Joined: 01/27/2010
That is so helpful! Thanks so

That is so helpful! Thanks so much!

Thank you for the example, that's really helpful. I can't wait to try everything out! 

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OCF's picture
Joined: 01/06/2011
How Much Yarn

Thank you for the information about measuring out yarn. I am just about to begin weaving for the first time in my life and have just ordered a 24" Rigid Heddle Loom. Would the measurements above till apply? Also, and this is pure ignorance on my part, what does the 8" number refer to? I kind of understood all the rest of it.

Thank you for your patience in answering this completely novice question.

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Joined: 06/15/2010
The "8" in the example was

The "8" in the example was the width she was using, you would have to multiply by the width you want. Backstrap and inkle looms have less unweavable waste at the ends than a rigid heddle loom. You will need to determine how much waste your loom has and add this figure to your warp length. If you tell us what loom you have ordered, someone here probably can tell you the waste length.

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