One of your handiest available tools as a knitter is a digital food scale; the kind you can get in any kitchen gadgets section of any well stocked grocery, department, or other store. You might even already have one in your kitchen.
Get the kind that shows weights in various formats; the ones you’ll need as a knitter are ounces and grams. (I’ve seen scales range anywhere from $10 to $50.) Also handy is the kind of scale that will allow you to put a plate or bowl on the scale and re-set to zero; this is great when your ball of yarn doesn’t want to stay on the scale platform.
The obvious knitterly use of a food scale is when you need two or more equal balls of yarn from one big ball of yarn. (Maybe for socks, mitts, gloves, colorwork, etc.) Weigh the big ball of yarn. Divide the weight of the ball by how many balls you need to end up with. (Your scale usually has a “fudge factor” by which it may vary; manufacturers will generally tell you how much it is on or in the packaging. It’s usually a gram or less.) Start balling the new ball. Weigh the two balls as you go, and when they weigh the same amount, break your yarn. (If you’re doing three or more, you can do a center pull wrap on your thumb, which can get a little awkward, yes, but allows you to play around with the weights of multiple balls without breaking the yarn.)
Need to know how many yards or metres of yarn are in that ball of yummy yarn that you have leftover from another project? All you need to figure this out is the amount of yardage and weight of the original skein of yarn (if you don’t have the label, just look it up under the Yarn tab on Ravelry or on Yarndex), your scale, and a calculator.
- Figure how many yards or metres per ounce or gram in the original skein. To do this, you simply divide the yardage by the weight. (So if you have a ball of Cascade 220, and the label says there were 220 yards and 100 grams in the original skein, 220÷100=2.2, or 2.2 yards per gram.)
- Set (or re-set) your scale. Weigh the ball of yarn in whatever measurement you have from the label, ounces or grams.
- Now multiply the weight of your ball of yarn by the number of yards per gram or ounce. (So if your ball of Cascade 220 weighs 72 grams, 72 x 2.2=158.4 yards in your ball of yarn.)
Remember that fudge factor and allow extra yardage for the variance of your scale. (I’d leave at least a fudge factor of ten yards or metres, myself.)
Plus, of course, you can use it to weigh your food.