Help! I'm Running Out Of Yarn!

There are few things worse than when you are hit with the realization that you won't have enough yarn to finish your project. And we have ALL been there! What do you do? Here are a few options...

If You Know Your Yarn:

  • Start by going back to wherever you got your yarn and trying to get more. Have at the ready the yarn's specifics: brand (e.g., Berroco), name (e.g., Vintage Chunky), color (could be a number or a name or both), and dyelot (most likely a number - may be appended after the color number).
  • Same yarn, same color, same dyelot... rejoice! And buy more right now! If you are unsure how many more yards you'll need, bust out your kitchen scale. Weigh your WIP, weigh the yarn you have left, and use your best judgment on how much you have left to do. Math like crazy from there.
  • Same yarn, same color, different dyelot... don't despair. This gets harder but you have options based on what you are making.
    • You can try looking elsewhere for the same lot. This probably means time spent calling and emailing all over the country. Check on Ravelry - you may get lucky and find someone de-stashing the same lot!
    • If the new dyelot looks pretty close to the old one:
      • Feather in the new dyelot. If you are in the main body of whatever your project is, you can rip back a few rows and feather in the new yarn gradually by knitting every other row with new yarn, then old yarn, then new yarn, then old yarn. This eases the transition between the different dyelots and can often be enough to mask any subtle variation between them.
      • Use the new lot for a distinct part of the project. Got cuffs or edges? Use the new dye lot for those! Sleeves are another option for garments since they are sometimes knit separately. The eye is so drawn to a difference in stitch pattern or garment part that small variations in dyelot don't even register.
    • If the new dyelot is glaringly different from the original one:
      • Adjust your project. If the new dye lot bothers you or is drastically different, it's time to consider outside the box options to simply use less yarn. For example, shorten a tunic into a hip-length sweater, or long sleeves into 3/4 length sleeves. For socks, shorter cuffs may be in order.
      • Adjust your colors. Use this wrinkle as a design opportunity. Give a sweater a contrasting color button band and cuffs. Use the new lot for heels and toes on socks. This is an especially good solution as they not only get hidden by shoes, but are often other colors on purpose.
  • Same yarn, different colors. If you find the same yarn but not the same color at all, your options are largely the same as immediately above. You can look elsewhere for the same color/dyelot, adjust your pattern to use less yarn, or get creative with a contrasting color.

    If You Don't Know Your Yarn or It's Been Discontinued:

    • Do some archeology. It happens to all of us, we lose the tag somewhere down the line... Often the store you bought the yarn from will have a record of your purchases and that's the best place to start.
    • Look online. If the yarn isn't being produced anymore, you can still poking around the internet for it. Remember to check on Ravelry for fortuitous de-stashers. Sometimes even out of the blue messaging someone with the yarn in their stash and offering to buy it may work!
    • Find a sub. Based on ply, gauge, fiber, dye style, and texture you can narrow down what yarns may be a good substitution. It's not going to be a perfect match, though, so it's time to get creative! You can work in the new yarn as a purposeful-seeming design feature with:
      • Stripes
      • Fade
      • Color blocks
      • Contrasting cuffs
      • Contrasting heels and toes
      • Variegated yarn
    • Adjust the pattern. If that's not your jam, we're back to pondering adjusting your pattern to use less yarn.
    • Frog it. And, finally, we're so so so sorry to even mention it... if nothing is working you can frog the entire project and start over.

    The Bottom Line?

    It comes down to what kind of knitter or crocheter you are. For some, it is the process that matters most, not the finished project, so rolling with the yarn chicken punchers is no big deal. On the other hand, many of us neeeeeeeed to make the project *as perfect and to spec as possible*! You have to decide what you can live with. Remember the joy of gifting: even if you don't adore your finished project, someone else may treasure it. Find the solution that makes you most happy!

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