Which Crochet Stitches Use Up the Most Yarn? An Experiment

We all have only a finite amount of yarn, and we want to make the most of it! How do you know which crochet stitches will make the best use of your yarn?

Take a look below to discover whether shorter or taller stitches use the most yarn and what stitches to look for in a pattern if you need to use up lots of yarn or only a little.

Which basic crochet stitch uses the least yarn?

The basic crochet stitches are constructed similarly, but all are different heights. Is there any significant difference in how much yarn they use? It depends on how you measure it.

For longer rows…
…use shorter stitches, like single crochet.

If you’re concerned about completing a row but don’t care about the height of that row, use a shorter stitch, which uses less yarn.

For example, if you’re working a row that’s 20 stitches across, you’ll use significantly less yarn with a row of single crochet than with a row of treble crochet. The taller the stitch, the more yarn it uses in one row.

This is helpful if you’re working something like a scrappy blanket, where each row is a different color and different stitch. If you have less yarn of Color A than Color B, you can use Color A for a row of single crochets and Color B for a row of double crochets.

But when height matters …
…taller stitches are more effective.

Let’s say if want to create an item of a certain size (like a scarf), where both width and height matter. We know that taller stitches will grow the project faster, but will they use more yarn? To find out, I did a little experiment:

Four different crochet pieces

First, I crocheted four same-size swatches, all using the exact same yarn and hook, but each one in a different basic crochet stitch.

Wound up yarn

Then I frogged each of the swatches and compared the amount of yarn used in each swatch. The verdict? When considering height, shorter stitches use more yarn.

Four different lengths of yarn

The single crochet swatch used the most yarn. On this small sample of 2″ x 6″ swatches, the half double crochet used 13″ less yarn than the single crochet. In turn, the double crochet used 38″ less yarn than the half double crochet. However, the treble crochet only used 2″ less yarn than the double crochet.

Why is there such a big difference?

The height of the stitch clearly accounts for some of the difference.

When you think about how you make crochet stitches, it’s more obvious why shorter stitches use more yarn: Every time you work a single crochet, you only add height when you insert the hook through the loops of the row below. With taller stitches, you also add height each time you yarn over during the stitch. That is, you don’t have to go back down into the fabric each time you add height. This also explains why there’s such a big difference between single crochet and half double crochet, but not between double and treble crochet.

I also noticed that even though I tried to keep an even tension on each swatch, my tension was naturally much looser on the double and treble crochet, which might have affected my overall numbers.

Using up lots of yarn

Of course, basic crochet stitches aren’t your only choice. If you have a whole lot of yarn and are looking for a “wool eater” or “yarn hog” project, then consider using a very textured crochet stitches.

When you work multiple stitches into one space (such as bobbles and crocodile stitch ), you naturally use up more yarn. You can also try the bullion stitch (one stitch with yarn wrapped around it many times) or crochet cables (the post stitches and crossed stitches eat up lots of yarn).

Making good use of a little yarn

What if you don’t have much yarn to work with? Openwork stitch patterns often use the least yarn.

For example, a double crochet mesh will use less yarn than a basic double crochet fabric because it has openwork spaces between the dc stitches. Look for patterns that incorporate a lot of spaces and chains when seeking to use less yarn.

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