Popular Posts: How much Fiber Do I Need?

Dragonfly Fibers (sw Merino/Stellina) Red Bud

This was the most popular spinning post of 2018. Everybody wants to shop! Originally posted in October 2018.

Rhinebeck is this weekend, I can feel the shopping fever mounting!

I get asked “how much fiber should I buy?” in most of my spinning classes. The urgency ramps up when I’m teaching at a fiber show or there’s a big show coming up.

Do you know what you’re going to buy yet? I usually make a shopping map.

Here are my quick and dirty shopping amounts for commercial fiber:

  • 4oz – socks, hats, small cowls
  • 8 oz – infinity scarves, big cowls, small shawls
  • 12oz – big shawls, vests
  • 16oz-32oz+ – sweaters. I make an x-large sweater; I always buy 2 pounds.

Here are some of the things that change my fiber buying amounts:

The size of the garment I’m knitting. If you are buying to spin to commercial project, make sure to read it for size, ease and yarn amounts. Right now I’m knitting a sweater that calls for 16″ of ease in my size. I would need more than 2 pounds of fiber for that.

The fiber I’m buying. BFL weighs much more than Merino. Please don’t ask me how many times that fact had to bite me in the butt before I starting buying more of heavier fibers when substituting for a pattern.

The type of yarn I want to spin. How you draft (worsted uses more than woolen), the number of plies (more plies, more fiber), the amount of twist (more twist, more fiber), and the stitch patterns you use (hello sexy, fiber-eating, cables), all contribute to the grist of yarn and should be considered when shopping.

How much sampling I want to do. I may use 1/2-1 ounce if I’m pretty sure of the yarn I want to make. 1-2 ounces if I want to play with draft and yarn structure. If I am going to sample manipulating color in a braid, I will buy a whole extra braid to just play and sample.

My shortest answer to ‘how much?’ is, more than you think you need. I’ve never known a spinner to complain about having too much fiber.

Have fun at Rhinebeck! I’ll be watching all the handknits and fiber shopping on Instagram.

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Jillian is the​ author of the best-selling spinning book Yarnitecture. She is the editor​ of Knittyspin and Developmental Editor for PLY and PLY Books. She kinda loves this spinning thing and wants everyone who spins to love it too, so she teaches and writes a lot. She knits, weaves, and stitches and tries to do as much of it as she can with handspun yarn. She's always cooking up all kinds of exciting and creative things combining fiber arts. She likes her mysteries British, her walks woodsy, and to spend as much time as she can laughing. Spy on her on her website jillianmoreno.com