• Dwynwen at Loch Ness Knitting

Running out of yarn

It happens to the best of us. Despite careful calculations, weighing, swatching and measuring sometimes we still run out of yarn.


There are a few reasons why this might occur.

You may have looked at the yarn requirements for a pattern and decided to risk it, knowing that you would be lucky got get by using 4 skeins instead of 5. Maybe the pattern didn't have yarn requirements. Or your math brain wasn't working when you did the calculations. It is also possible that the pattern is wrong, this can happen with untested patterns or inexperienced designers. Printing errors also occur quite often in patterns and can lead to headaches later on!


So, what I'm saying is it is no ones fault. You're out of yarn. What happens next?


Let me walk you through my recent fix.



My lovely sample knitter Lesley was working her way through this cabled cardigan using my DK Merino Woodland Collection yarn. Cables work beautifully with the subtle tonal variations of my naturally hand dyed yarn so I was excited to see this sample piece.

I did the yarn calculations 3 times before the knit but unfortunately the yarn gods were not smiling on me. Lesley got in touch to say she had run out of yarn halfway through the second sleeve.


Step 1 was to check if we could salvage any yarn from the gauge swatches.


This would have allowed us to complete the sleeve and then add a new skein for the button bands and collar.


Joining new yarn at this point is more subtle that starting mid way through a large piece such as a sleeve or body piece.



Sadly there was no yarn left from the swatches so I had to re-evaluate the knit.


Step 2 was to walk away from it for a couple of days to get thinking space. After giving time to hand making projects we get emotionally connected to them, which is a wonderful thing. However it's not altogether helpful when tough decisions have to be made.

Step 3 was to make sure that I would end up with a finished garment.


So I seamed up the pieces and added the button band.


I could then unravel the existing sleeve work and divide into 2 equal amounts.


This then gave me the option of picking up stitches and working the sleeves top down.


However after taking a step back from the garment in its half finished state I started to feel that sleeves were becoming a distraction from all those beautiful cables.



Step 4 was to dispense with the idea of sleeves and finish the armholes with a simple rib cuff.


I had then had to think about the neckline. I considered a shawl collar or the simple rib that was on the original pattern. In the end I looked at the amount of yarn that I had left and decided to go for a zero waste approach, and use it all in the one garment.


Step 5 was to pick up stitches and add a hood.


I knitted straight from the partially finished sleeve, but if the sleeve had been totally finished and had been worn I would have unravelled and washed the yarn before rewinding and knitting. This would remove any kinks in the yarn from the original stitiches.


The original pattern was for a cropped but oversized cardigan, designed to be an outer layer garment. Adjusting to a sleeveless gilet is not a huge step away from that concept and still creates a really cosy knit.


I have a tiny bit of one sleeve left, and a cuff. I've weighed this and it's around 40g which I know is enough to do a small pair of fingerless gloves. So that will be my next cast on, and will be a quick knit leaving me with zero waste from this project.



If you have any stories about knits gone wrong or ideas for project rescues please share them in the comments or on social media, together we can all be zero waste makers!


#handdyed #handmade #knitting #yarn #runningoutofyarn #yarnemergency #knitsgonewrong







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