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Using a Digital Scale

Do you have a digital scale? Do you use it in your knitting or crochet? Are you wondering why and how you might use one? My scale is an important part of my knitting equipment, and I hope it will be for you as well if it's not already.

First, what kind of scale should you get? You want one that measures in grams because that will give you more accurate measurements than one that weighs in ounces (unless you get one that weighs to the tenth or hundredth ounce). The scale accuracy can be to the gram or to the tenth gram, and the scale should handle at least 200 grams (preferably more in case you want to measure an entire sweater). You should also find one that has a larger space to place the item being weighed (some scales have very small areas for weighing) as well as one with a tare function (in case you want to put a container on the scale first to hold your yarn/project; tare will zero out the scale with the empty bowl on it so you can weigh just what you put inside it). Here are a couple of examples of scales you might try:

Ozeri Pronto Digital Multifunction Kitchen and Food Scale (the one I use is similar to this one)
Etekcity Digital Kitchen Scale Multifunction Food Scale

So what do you do with your scale once you have one? I'm going to show you two really useful ways to use your scale.

How Much Yarn Did a Project Use?

Have you ever wondered how much yarn that cowl used and how much you have left over? You scale can help with that. Here's what you need to do:

1. Weigh the yarn before you start your project. (It's easiest to place yarn in a cake or ball form on the scale and you don't want any labels or anything else on the yarn at this point.) Write down the starting weight.[1]

2. When you finish your project, weigh the yarn you have remaining. Write that number down as the ending weight.

3. Get out a calculator, and do the following calculations:

Starting Weight – Ending Weight = Weight Used[2]

Weight Used ÷ Starting Weight = Percentage of Yarn Used

Percentage of Yarn Used Number of yards (meters) in the skein = Number of yards (meters) used in your project

Let's use an example with actual numbers. Let's say you have a skein of yarn that has 435 yards and weighs 100 grams. You made a cowl and the ending weight of your yarn is 54 grams.

100 – 54 = 46 grams used

46 ÷ 100 = .46 (which is 46%)

.46 435 = 200.1 yards

So for this example, your cowl used 200.1 yards of yarn.

Also, you have 54 grams remaining and by doing that math

54 ÷ 100 = .54

.54 x 435 = 234.9

you'll know that you have 234.9 yards of yarn left over.

How Many More Rows/Rounds Can You Work?

Have you ever been working on a project that says to knit until you run out of yarn and then bind off? How can you make sure you get every last row/round in without worrying about running out of yarn? Use your scale!

The first thing you need to know is how much yarn is being used per row (or for a pattern repeat).

1. Place your yarn on the scale. Write down the weight.

2. Knit a row/round (or pair of rows or pattern repeat).

3. Place your yarn on the scale again. Write down the new weight.

4. Take the starting weight and subtract the new weight. That's how much yarn it takes to work one round/row (or repeat).

Let's say that you discover that a 4-row pattern repeat uses 5 grams of yarn. You have 28 grams of yarn left. How many more repeats of that 4-row pattern can you work?

28 ÷ 5 = 5.6

That means you can work 5 more repeats (and still have some left over for the bind off).

What if you have only 25 grams left in this example? To play it safe, just do 4 repeats to make sure you don't run out of yarn on the bind off. (Since 25 ÷ 5 = 5 with nothing remaining.)

What if you are working a project that adds increases each row? In this case, you'll want to measure your yarn after each row/repeat to see how much more yarn each increase uses. Let's use the 4-row pattern repeat and 28 grams again.

  • The first time you work the repeat, you use 5 grams. You have 23 grams remaining. That's enough to work another repeat.
  • The second time you work the repeat and increases, you use 5 grams again. Now you have 18 grams remaining. Another repeat is still safe.
  • The third time you work the repeat and increases, you use 6 grams of yarn. Now you have 12 grams remaining, which is plenty for another repeat.
  • The fourth time you work the repeat and increases, you use 6 grams of yarn. Now you have 6 grams remaining. Should you work another repeat? I would recommend binding off now rather than trying another repeat. (Based upon the above numbers, another repeat would take 7 grams, and you don't have that. Plus, even if it did take just 6 grams, you wouldn't have enough for the bind off.)

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[1] If you've used more than one skein of yarn for the project, you only need to weigh and measure the final skein used (since you can just use the yardage on the label for the full skeins used).

[2] You can also just weigh your project to get this number if you've used only one yarn for the project

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