How much to spin? How do you figure that out?

a picture of a niddy noddy with a skein of yar...
a picture of a niddy noddy with a skein of yarn on it (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I spin yarn. I say that like I know what I’m doing. I can get a pretty good stable and uniform size on my spun fiber, but  some of the other nuances are lost on me. I’m eventually going to take a class – that would be a good idea for Craftsy – ( if you haven’t heard of them) because the classes are 2 or 3 hours south and east of here. Anyway – I want to spin my own yarn and make a sweater from it. But I have no idea how much fiber equals how much yarn. The only clues I got were to swatch it in a 4″ square, rip it out, measure it and then see how many 4″ squares you need for your sweater and spin that much and then add 10%. Maybe I’ll just buy the yarn.

After I started spinning and got my first spinning wheel I figured out that you need way more than that. This is an expensive little hobby. A lazy kate, a niddy noddy, extra bobbins, extra fly-wheel for different sizes of yarn, a yarn yardage counter not to mention a swift and a yarn winder – and then of course fiber. Which is expensive! At least what I want is very expensive. Take sea cell – it’s $65 a pound. Then silk is around $5 an ounce x 16 = what $90 a pound? And then soy silk or merino or some other soft wool —– and dyes to dye the fiber or yarn and then …….

I only work part-time part of the year. I work for a famous (and awesome) outdoor outfitter here in Maine for the peak season. Last year I started in July – I hope they call us back earlier this year. And I hope everybody buys chinos, boots and slippers and polos. A lot of them ……….

Then I can buy all the stuff I need for my spinning – and maybe even a drum carder! That’s only around $700 for the manual one.

Sea Cell, Merino and Soy Silk
Sea Cell, Merino and Soy Silk



12 Comments Add yours

  1. TamrahJo says:

    I’ll also shoot her an email with your blog address –


  2. Jennifer says:

    Thank you! I will go look – wow cashmere goats!


  3. TamrahJo says:

    You might want to look in on my neighbor, City Girl Farmer ( – she spins and raises cashmere goats for her materials – – I don’t know if she sells these or not, but wouldn’t hurt to ask –

    Thanks for finding me in cyber space, so I could find you!


  4. Jennifer says:

    Hi! Thanks for that – you’re right I do have Intertwined. I think it is lovely too – I saw another one recently that looks very very useful on Spunky Electic – written by the owner. I intend to get that one soon! Jennifer


  5. Please check out the wonderful and incredibly beautiful book titled: INTERTWINED…the Art of Handspun Yarn, Modern Patterns, and Creative Spinning, by Lexi Boeger. I bought it because it was so lovely. You may have it already but I jus thought I would tell you about it.


  6. Jennifer says:

    I seem to do more error than trial! I do the back of the chair thing too. I do need some bobbins so I can do a three ply. Thanks for your kind words. Jennifer


  7. Jennifer says:

    Susan thanks so much for the tip on Spunky Eclectic – I’m excited and will go there just as soon as I can. Love it!


  8. Verónica says:

    The sable colored yarn looks so luscious! I haven’t quite spun enough for a large item, just small hanks. Besides investing in a spinning wheel, i’m trying not to go crazy with all the other tools. I still wind my yarn on the back of a chair and measure the yardage that way. I do want to take a class on how to best use my wheel but haven’t found one in my area yet. Other than that, it’s all trial and error!


  9. Jennifer says:

    Thanks for the tip! You know this spinning stuff is harder than it looks! I’m hoping to get a class somewhere in Maine – we don’t have one in Bangor yet that I know of but maybe soon ………


  10. Susan says:

    Welcome to the spinning vortex! It’s not that hard to figure out how much fiber you need for a sweater. The best way is to sample the fiber — spin, ply and wash it. Then measure and weigh it to determine how much finished yarn you get per ounce. Then multiply for your sweater yardage. Generally, 1.5 to 2 pounds of fiber will give you enough yardage for a woman’s sweater.

    Have you been to Spunky Eclectic in Lisbon, Maine? If not, make the trip — it’s fiber heaven.


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