I LOVE big crochet projects. The kinds that take months, or even all year. There’s something deeply satisfying about dipping in and out of them, watching each small contribution accumulate, and passing milestones along the way. But I’ve learned that it does pay to do some planning before you commit to such a big undertaking. For example by calculating how much yarn for a crochet blanket – and that’s what we’re here to discuss today.
How much yarn it takes to crochet a blanket depends on the size of the blanket, the yarn, and the pattern. Baby blankets can be made with as few as 3 balls, whilst a king size blanket might need 30! And you may want to approach big blanket projects differently depending on how many of those balls you can afford to buy before you start. I’m here to help you calculate how much yarn you’ll need for your next blanket, as accurately as possible.
How much yarn for a crochet blanket
The odds of ever making a crochet throw or blanket which uses exactly the amount of yarn you bought for it are about as likely as finding a unicorn in your yarn stash. So when it comes to accurately calculating how much material you’ll need before you start, the aim is to end up with as little yarn left over as possible. The alternative is running out before you finish! A very rough guide to how much yarn you’ll need for a crochet blanket is:
- 3 – 4 balls for a baby blanket, suitable for a pram, bassinet, or cot.
- 6 – 8 balls for a small blanket, suitable for a toddler bed or to use as a small sofa throw.
- 15 – 17 balls for a twin size blanket, or a large sofa throw.
- 23 – 25 balls for a double bed sized blanket.
- 30 – 34 balls for a blanket which will fully cover a king size bed.
These are ball park figures. There are several factors which affect exactly how much yarn you’ll use to make your blanket. And some clever approaches you can take to saving money, making your yarn go further, and making sure you don’t end up with an awful lot more than you need.
Factors that affect how much yarn you’ll need for a crochet blanket
First up, here are some factors which separate the projects that gobble up yarn, from the projects which stretch it out as far as possible:
- Choice of stitch
- Color changes
Choice of stitch
Crochet is already notorious for how quickly it uses up yarn, compared to knitting a blanket instead. And the type of stitch you decide to work with is going to be significant too. A dense stitch like knit stitch, moss stitch or star stitch is going to use more yarn per square foot than something more ‘holey’, such as a traditional granny blanket, or a lacy shell stitch. Likewise, elaborate 3D stitches will use up yarn faster than simple flat stitches.
If you tend to crochet ‘tight’, then you’re going to use more yarn per square inch than someone who crochets ‘loose’. The difference in how much yarn you use is going to be marginal on a small blanket, but it has the potential to be significant on a large blanket.
There’s no escaping it – color changes create waste! Compared to a single color blanket, you’ll end up with the leftovers of not just one color, but several. This is especially true of blanket designs that have lots of small details in a wide range of colors.
Does the weight of the yarn matter?
Good question! And the answer is yes… and no. It depends on how you measure the amount of yarn you use to make a blanket. Lots of yarns are measured in ounces on the wrapper, and blankets made out of bulky yarn weigh more than lightweight yarn blankets of the same size, because they are thicker. Here are some stats from my stash to give you an idea:
- The lightweight yarns (around size 3) are between 70 and 95 yards long per ounce, depending on the fiber (cotton yarns are heavier and come shorter than wools, for example).
- Medium weight yarns (approximately size 4) are 50 – 70 yards long per ounce.
- Bulky yarns (size 5-ish) are 30 – 45 yards long per ounce.
- Super bulky yarns (size 6) are 15 – 20 yards long per ounce. This category contains all the yarns which have ‘blanket’ in their name too!
- And finally the jumbo yarns (size 7+) are just 6 – 12 yards long per ounce.
So you’d need more ounces of a bulky yarn than of a light weight yarn, to make a twin size blanket. However, bulky yarns are usually sold in heavier balls, so that the yardage remains roughly consistent anyway, despite the change in thickness. Which is why making a small sofa throw in a simple flat stitch still requires about 6 – 8 balls of yarn, regardless of what weight of yarn you choose.
How to make your yarn go further
Blankets are physically large projects, and the total cost of the yarn involved can be enough to stop you getting started. But here are some tips to make your yarn go further, and add a few extra inches to your afghan:
- Use lace stitches or panels. Look for shell stitches that give good coverage but use slightly less yarn than solid stitches. Or, alternate rows of solid crochet with rows of granny stitch or lacework, to create visual interest and make your yarn go further.
- Turn your stash into granny square centers. Use yarn you already have to make up the middles of granny squares, so you only need to buy yarn for the outermost row. Use the join-as-you-go technique in the video at the top of this article so you don’t need more yarn for sewing the squares together later.
- Work with a single color. Alternatively, cut down on waste by using just one color, and using different textures and patterns to create visual and tactile interest.
- Use a larger hook. Using the largest possible hook suitable for your yarn will produce looser tension and make your yarn go slightly further. The difference isn’t huge, but your blanket will feel more supple and drape better too!
If calculating how much yarn for a crochet blanket has brought you out in a cold sweat, or filled you with dismay because the price is putting your project out of reach, don’t give up hope. Here are some money saving tips.
- Blankets don’t need to cover your bed. Even one big enough to cover the bottom half will make your bed beautiful, and keep your feet cosy!
- Buy yarn packs. Lots of retailers offer discounts on several identical balls of wool bought at the same time.
- Shop end of lot sales. Yarn is produced in dye lots, and sometimes there is a bit of variation between one dye lot and the next. So, when manufacturers and retailers start to get to the last few balls of a dye lot they might sell them at a discount because they can’t guarantee future stocks of that color will be exactly the same shade.
- Buy a few balls at a time. Let’s face it, a lot of us take months to finish a blanket, so you don’t really need all the materials upfront anyway. Buy what you need to get started, and a little more each month after that. This is actually really great for keeping motivated and avoiding project burn out too.
- Buy up other people’s stashes. Look in thrift stores and online for leftover yarn being sold by other people. Turn mismatched colors and fibers into something cohesive by using them in alternating stripes with a neutral colored yarn you’ve bought new.
Avoiding ending up with too much or too little yarn
Gathering exactly the right amount of yarn before you start making a blanket is a bit of a guessing game. Here are some ways to avoid falling short, or realising you have far too much.
- Work to a pattern. Patterns take the guess work of how much yarn you’re going to need. Either choose a pattern you love and buy the yarn it calls for, or find a yarn you love and then look for a blanket pattern that uses it.
- Buy a kit. Go one step further, and buy one of the many crochet blanket making kits you can find online. The pattern and the exact amount of yarn you need all in one place, often with thoughtful extras like the correct size hook, some stitch markers, and a tag for your finished article.
- Check your tension. For patterns you’ve designed yourself, buy a sample ball of yarn and make up a small swatch to compare with the tension notes on the wrapper. Then use this work out how many balls you’re going to need in total.
How much yarn for a crochet blanket – summary
Working out how much yarn you’ll need for a crochet blanket isn’t an exact science. Since running out before you finish is definitely undesirable, it’s better to overestimate how much you need, but aim to have as little leftover as possible. You can do this by buying yarn as you go, working with a limited color palette, or following a pattern. There’s a kind of irony that so many of us start granny square blankets to use up our stashes, but end up with a fresh new batch leftovers in our stash by the time we’ve finished. Let us know if you’ve ever wildly miscalculated how much yarn you needed for a crochet blanket in the comments box down below!