Weaving with One Skein

At one point or another I think we are all guilty of spontaneous yarn purchases. You know the ones, that skein of yarn that struck a note with your heart and you just had to buy it? You had no idea what to make from this single, beautiful skein. And it didn’t matter – it was just too pretty to pass up!

Then you get it home and there it sits for months, maybe even years, waiting for that perfect knit or crochet pattern to come along.  And naturally, because you only have the one skein, the pattern choices are limited.

So now what? How do we rescue that one, fabulous skein, from a hidden stash drawer destiny?

Weaving – that’s how!

Unlike knitting, a woven scarf works up in a snap. With the ease of direct warping and the grace and beauty of the Kromski Harp Forte, you may soon find your wardrobe is blossoming with new, irresistible, scarves.

In this blog we will show you how 4 lonely skeins became fantastic wardrobe accessories in just a few days.

But 1st let’s talk math. How do you know how far your skein will go?  There is a simple set of calculations that will help you determine the amount of yarn needed for a particular project. In this post calculations will be rounded for simplicity. Since we are working with a specific amount of yardage, we may need to play around with the figures a bit in order to use all of our yarn. Of course, you can always use the leftover in another project (maybe a “weftover” scarf)!  But we defiantly want to be certain that we don’t run out of yarn before completing the task.

The yarn being used on this first scarf is sock/fingering weight. This will be woven on a 10 dent heddle

To choose the size of the dent on the heddle, wrap the yarn around a ruler for one inch. Wrap evenly without crowding. Count the wraps and divide by 2. This number will correspond to the size of the dent. In this case we have 20 wraps so we will be using a 10 dent Heddle.

We’ll start with a common scarf length of 74″. For this scarf we will be finishing with fringe, 5″ per end. Therefore 74″+10″=  84″. On the Harp forte 12″ is sufficient for the loom waste, provided you utilize the warp to it’s fullest. We will use the waste for fringe so we only need to add 2″ additional length. 84″ + 2″ = 86″. We will put the project on the full width of the 8″ Harp Forte. There are 40 holes in the 8″, 10 Dent Heddle. 40 holes and 40 slots means 80 ends.  Multiply the length by the number of ends: 86″ x 80 = 6880″.  Add 10% for take-up (because the yarn must travel over and under the other threads, it will use more than if it traveled in a strait line). This gives us 7568″.  Divide this by 36″ to give us a total of 210 yards to be used in the warp.

Determining the weft is quite simple. Width of project (in this case 8″) multiplied by picks per inch. A balanced weave will use the same number for both. So, 8″x 8 = 64. Multiplied by length of weaving area (74″ not counting the 12″ for fringe and waste). 64 x 74 = 4736. Add 10% to get 5210. Divided by 36″ and we find that we need 145 yards for weft. Add the warp and weft together: 210 + 145 = 355. Therefore the total yardage needed is 355. I have a skein of Alpaca/Superwash that measures 360 yards – perfect!

This next beauty was gifted to me by a friend. It’s 4.8 oz, 510 yards of 90% Superwash Merino/10% Nylon. Since there is quite a bit more yardage in this skein, I’ve opted for a wider scarf.

I decided to warp my loom, again with the 10 dent, with 96 ends. This gives me a weaving width of  just under 10″ on a 16″ Harp Forte. The length on this one will be 80″ plus 12″ fringe/waste. Using the same method as above to determine total yardage, the resulting number is 492. I wove this a bit looser than a true balanced weave, which I failed to calculate ahead of time, so after completion there was 24 yards left. This gave me a light, slightly airy fabric and I can live with the small amount of unused yarn. The important thing is not to run out of yarn before the end of the scarf.  It’s always better to slightly over shoot the yardage needed.


This same method is used on any size yarn. For example, I used a skein of DK/Worsted yarn measuring 280 yards.

This yarn needs the 8 dent heddle. I calculated with a length of 80″ ( 68″ to be woven and 12″ allowed for fringe and waste). The original plan was for a weaving width of 8″ using an 8 dent heddle (64 ends), but at the end of my figuring, I found that I would still need 17 more yards to weave the scarf. The easiest solution was to remove 4 ends, giving me a scarf 7.5″ wide. With that adjustment, the total needed was now 270 yards. Perfect!



But what if you just have one skein of bulky weight yarn with only 106 yards?

The solution is to weave a very narrow scarf, or as done in this example, a shorter one which I’ve made into a cowl. For this project I used a 5 dent heddle. I warped 40 ends to a length of 46″ (including the fringe and waste). By using the same method I was able to determine that I would need 98 yards to make the cowl.

So the next time you see that on perfect skein of yarn – don’t hesitate – buy it and weave!

Here is an easy to follow Warp Worksheet Form that will help you in determining the amount of yarn needed for your project. Warp Work Sheet