How much yarn do you need for a pair of socks

This article is part of my no swatch, any stitch count, any yarn sock pattern.

If you knit some specific pattern there is usually specified how many yards (meters) or skeins you need for each size and you should buy yarn according to that number. However, if you are just knitting a pair of vanilla socks read further.

The answer to this question depends on four factors:

  • leg & cuff length and the circumference of the sock
  • yarn weight (the thickness of the yarn)
  • gauge (density of the fabric)
  • stitch pattern (stockinette, ribbing, cables, lace, etc.)
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How do I know my yarn weight?

First, check the label of your yarn ball. There is usually specified how much the skein weighs and how many yards / meters there are. Based on that information you can use the table below and determine the yarn weight.

Many times also the manufacturer’s website provides that information. You can also go to and try to find the information from there. Also, Ravelry has quite an extensive database of yarns but you need to register in order to be able to search their database.

How many yards there are approximately / 3.5 oz / 100g:

Yarn weight (from thinnest to thickest)Yards / 3.5ozMeters / 100g
Fingering (super fine)360 – 460330 – 420
Sport (fine)300 – 360275 – 330
DK (light)240 – 290220 – 265
Worsted (medium)200 – 220180 – 200

How does the stitch pattern affect?

If you use some other stitch pattern than stockinette such as cables or a slip stitch patterns you’ll need more yarn. The rule of thumb is also that the denser the fabric the more yarn you need.

  • For cables add 15% more yarn
  • For stranded colorwork add 25% more yarn

So how much yarn do you need for a pair of basic mid-calf stockinette socks

Because a yarn ball usually weighs 50,100,150 or 200g, on the table below I have listed what amount of yarn is usually enough for a pair of basic mid-calf stockinette adult socks rounded to the nearest 50g. For instance, if I make a pair of socks for myself (shoe size EU 38 / US 7) I use 60-70g of fingering weight yarn so I have to buy two 50g skeins or one 100g skein but I’ll end up having some leftovers. On the other hand, if I make socks for my husband I use almost all the 100g and have no leftover yarn.

If you are unsure whether you have enough yarn or not I recommend that you knit your socks from toe-up because it’s easier to adjust the length of the leg than the foot. You can use for instance my free no swatch, any stitch count, any yarn sock pattern. Of course, you can also work your sock cuff down and buy an extra skein.

If you are making a large men’s sock select the amount of yarn from the higher end and vice versa.

The amount of yarn you need for basic mid-calf stockinette socks:

Yarn weight (from thinnest to thickest)Child’s sockWomen’s socksMen’s socks
Fingering (super fine)50 – 100 g100 g100 – 150 g
Sport (fine)100 g100 g100 – 150 g
DK (light)100 g100 – 150 g150 – 200 g
Worsted (medium)100 g100 – 150 g150 – 200 g

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