Once I have an idea of how much handspun I need for a particular project, I can measure whether I have enough on hand, or if I need to spin more. There are a several ways to do this.
One way is to use a McMorrin Yarn Balance, a handy gadget which calculates the length of a yarn based on its weight. Laritza at Yorksett Arts & Crafts wrote an excellent tutorial on that, which you can read here.
Niddy noddies (or swifts, for that matter) can be used to measure yarn as it's wound off the bobbin. The trick here it to know the how many inches it takes for the yarn to make a complete path around the device. This measurement is multiplied by the number of times the yarn is wound around it. This gives a rough estimate, because the yarn piles up on the arms of the niddy noddy. I don't use this method because I prefer to wash my freshly skeined yarn before measuring it. Why? Because there can be some "shrinkage," especially with wool, when the fibers resume their natural crimp pattern after being stretched out on the bobbin and niddy noddy
I calculate the yardage of my handspun with a yardstick and some simple math.
The skein in this photo measures 20 inches. Of course, the skein is actually a loop, or circle of yarn, so what I really want here is the measurement of the yarn all the way around. To find that, I double the measurement, and get 40 inches.
Next I count the strands of yarn in the skein.
For this skein there are 96.
I multiply these two numbers to get the approximate inches in the skein,
40 inches x 96 = 3840 inches
I divide that number by 36 to get the yards. In this case, 106.66 yards. If I need to round any numbers, I always round down, to give myself a safe minimum amount of yarn.
I do this with each skein and total up the yardage. If my spinning were more consistant, I could probably just use an average for each skein, but it isn't, so I don't.
So far, I have spun a little over 728 yards of 2-ply pol-paca yarn, so I'm close to a fifth of the way to the yards of handspun I need for the Turkish coat. Even so, I could use some of this to start sampling on the loom, as I need to finalize the weave structure and pattern, as well as sett and shrinkage from wet finishing. Since I have plenty of both Polwarth and Alpaca, I can sample to my heart's content.
Obviously this method can be used for knitting and crochet projects as well. You may recall the complex calculations that went into trying to figure out if I had enough various colors of yarn for my Shetland Sampler Cardigan. This post describes how I calculated that, and this post describes how I calculated for the cuffs and bands.
This is not a project I'm in a hurry on, so progress may be slow. At the moment, I'm just happy to be spinning for it. So for now, I'll spin on.
Posted 27 April 2009 at http://leighsfiberjournal.blogspot.com
Spinning For Weaving, Knitting, Crochet, Etc. An Introduction
Calculating Handspun For Weaving
What I Learned From My Swatch - calculating for stranded knitting
Dissecting My Shetland Swatch - calculating for bands & cuffs