How to Measure Those "Mystery Yarns" in Your Stash

Posted by MIchael Gallagher on

Every knitter, crocheter or weaver has them: mysterious skeins of yarn that have long since lost their labels and have been partially used up at one point or another. 

With all of the clever patterns coming out which use mini skeins and scrap yarn, you might wish to revisit these forgotten skeins and find a new use for them, other than taking up space in your stash.

But how do you know if you have the correct weight of yarn or enough yardage to make what you want? 

nancy's niddy noddy with mystery yarn skeins

Here's where a few handy tools come to the rescue: using a Nancy’s Niddy Noddy and WPI Toolkit, you can easily sort your mystery skeins by weight and find out exactly how many yards you have of each one. Here's how! 

Step 1: If your mystery yarns aren't already wound into balls (sometimes called yarn cakes), do this now.

Step 2: Using your WPI Toolkit, secure one yarn end in the notch, then begin gently rolling the yarn around the gauge like so: 

wrapping yarn around wpi gauge

Then, line up the yarn so that it is sitting next to the previous wrap, taking care not to overlap it.

wrapping yarn around wpi gauge to measure yarn

Continue rolling yarn onto the tool until the one-inch line is reached. Using this method will produce the most accurate measurement of your yarn! 

Step 3: Count the number of times that the yarn is wrapped within the one-inch space, then consult the Knit Kard to see which yarn weight corresponds to the number of wraps for your yarn. Write this down on a tag or piece of paper (we like these strung marking tags which are easy to attach and remove from your yarn as needed). 

count the number of yarn wraps to determine yarn weight

Step 4. Now it's time to wind the yarn onto your niddy noddy. You have 4 size options for skeins that can be wound on our Nancy’s Niddy Noddy: 

4 skein sizes can be made with nancy's niddy noddy from NKK Tools

Larger amounts of yarn, we suggest the 1.5-yard or 2 yard setup; for smaller amounts, you may wish to make 1-yard or 27-inch sample size skeins. 

Above, you can see the four skein options as they correspond to the arm length for your Niddy Noddy; the shorter arm can be used to make the 27-inch samples skein and 1-yard skein (blue yarns) and the longer arm can be used to make the 1.5-yard and 2-yard skeins (variegated yarns). For each arm length, the smaller skeins are made by wrapping the yarn around just 1 side of the cross-arms like so:

27-inch sample skein on nancy's niddy noddy

Whereas the larger skeins are made by wrapping the yarn around all 4 cross-arms like so: 

2-yard skein on nancy's niddy noddy

To measure yarn, start by securing the yarn ends in the notch on the middle of the arm, then simply the number of times you wrap the yarn around the niddy noddy as shown above. You will then multiply the number of wraps by the size of the skein you are making (27 inches, 1 yard, 1.5 yards or 2 yards) to determine your final length. For example, in the above photo, we used the 2-yard setup and wrapped the yarn around all 4 arms for a total of 9 times, giving us a total of 18 yards.

Once you are finished wrapping your yarn, tie each yarn end around your skein to secure, then remove from the niddy noddy admire your tidy hank of yarn. Don’t forget to add your yardage to your tag so that it’s clearly labeled for whenever you’re ready to use it!

4 skein sizes wound with nancy's niddy noddy from nkk tools

We hope this post gives you all the tools you need to start measuring, organizing and using up your yarn stash this year. Don’t forget to pin it for future reference!

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how to measure mystery skeins of yarn with NKK tools

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