Elizabeth Zimmermann, famous unventor of many things knitting, gives some of her typical advise on working out how much wool to buy for a sweater. She also touches on the importance of correct labelling of yarn, something we rejoice in here at WOVEMBER! We might also divulge at this point that Shetland wool is Wovember Team Member Tom’s most favourite wool…

A knitters’ question which arises perenially is, “how much wool shall I buy?” To this question there is no blanket-answer, but several qualified ones: if you are using very thick wool, buy more than you could possibly imagine; if you are using very thin wool, buy surprisingly little.

The rule of thumb is that five or six 4oz skeins of knitting worsted is about right for the average adult sweater; that is, 20 to 24 ounces. A really massive sweater, in giant wool, at perhaps 2.5 stitches to 1″, may take two pounds of wool, or even more. If you are using Shetland (or any wool of comparable thinness, knitting up at around 6 stitches to 1″) you can usually get away with 10 ounces for an average sweater.

And when I say Shetland, I mean study the label carefully. If it admits to enfolding a yarn of only 5% Shetland, even its manufacturer must agree that it is hardly Shetland at all, and should not be counted as such. It is also sometimes quite a bit thicker than real Shetland.

-Elizabeth Zimmermann, Knitter’s Almanac; project for each month of the year, Dover Publications, Mineola, NY

Tom’s first Sanquhar Gloves in Shetland wool, you can read a bit more about these gloves here.