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We are almost ready to start dyeing worsted weight yarn again (yay!) and so I’m thinking about translating some of our favourite colourways onto that heavier weight. Want to ponder with me?

If you have a standard 115 g skein of fingering/sock weight yarn, you’ll have about 400 m or yarn. If it’s worsted weight, you’ll have about 200 m of yarn.

So a skein of fingering weight is twice as long as a skein of worsted. Or, if you flip that around, each meter of worsted weight weighs about twice as much (and has twice as much fibre) as a meter of fingering weight.

This is why you can substitute two strands of fingering weight for one strand of worsted weight in most cases.

Yarn is three dimensional. I mean, obviously. But chunky knits are quicker than worsted weight knits are quicker than lace weight knits because the bulkier the yarn, the larger each stitch. So you can knit a hat in maybe a quarter as many stitches. Each stitch takes up a lot more space and uses a lot more yarn - this affects both your stitch gauge and your row gauge (x and y axes), but also how much space your hat takes up in the third dimension (z axis) that we don’t usually measure but we all understand - it is going to make a very thick hat.

So you need more yarn (by weight) to make, say, a hat out of worsted weight than a hat out of fingering weight.

What does this mean if your job is, say, dyeing self-striping yarns?

Let’s say I have a colourway that I’d like to translate from fingering weight onto worsted weight. I’d like the overall effect to be the same, but have to change…something… to fit it all onto one skein.

*Image description: Mandy is wearing a rainbow striped hat knit in fingering weight. The colours flow gradually from blue at the crown to orange at the brim.*Do I make each stripe half as long? The math checks out - it would mean the same number of stripes on each option. But then each stripe would be narrow. It depends on the project, this might be fine, but it might be awkward.

Or maybe I dye half as many stripes? Again the math checks out. But then what does that mean for something like Our Solar System where each stripe is special and important? Which ones do I leave out? Again, it depends on the project.

Here’s what I did for Colourwheel. I started by assuming we all want to make hats.

The photo above shows a fingering weight hat. Nineteen stripes, 8 m of yarn in each stripe, 152 m of yarn total. The second is a worsted weight hat. Sixteen stripes, 8 m of yarn in each stripe, 128 m of yarn total.

This worked out quite nicely. I basically did dye half as many stripes by adjusting the gradient and taking away some of the “in between” colours. The worsted version has 26 stripes total, while the fingering weight version has 39 (including one super long grey stripe at one end which is why 26/39 does not equal 0.5, but let’s not worry too much about that).

I’m still not sure how to handle Our Solar System, but that’s the next one in the queue. Maybe separate the yarn into an inner planets skein and an outer planets skein? Or maybe the eight planets in one skein and a special optional skein with just Pluto? These are the important questions that keep me up at night.

*Image description: A worsted weight rainbow striped hat laying flat on a canvas bag. The colours are the reverse of the earlier hat, and flow gradually from orange at the crown to blue at the brim. A full skein of the same yarn sits beside the hat, along with the remaining yarn from the skein the hat was knit from. *