I have been finding that when I purchase the amount of yarn that a pattern calls for, I have at least a whole ball or hank of yarn left over, when I follow the pattern exactly or even add a little bit more. I have three examples of this:
1) I started my first sweater a year and a half ago. It took me a year to complete, and when I was done with it, I found that I had a whole untouched hank of yarn left over. Now, this was not cheap yarn - Cascade Ultra Pima, $10/hank from my LYS, and the pattern called for 4 hanks of the main color and 1 of the contrast color for trim. I thought OK, maybe I made it smaller or tighter than the pattern called for.
2) I made a pair of knee-high cabled socks for my husband last year. The pattern called for 3 balls of the main color and one of the trim color (which was only for the ribbing at the top). Each sock took exactly one ball of yarn with less than a yard left over - top to toe - and I had a whole ball of the main color yarn left over, untouched. Cascade 220 at $11/ball.
3) Just finished a sweater that took me 2 months to complete. Pattern called for 7 hanks of yarn (again I used Cascade 220, which was one of the recommended yarns with the pattern). I made both the body and the sleeves longer than the pattern called for. And I STILL had a whole ball untouched, plus 90% of another.
I do not think I knit overly tight. I use the needle size recommended in the patterns and my stitches come out to gauge. Do patterns generally over-estimate or is this an anomaly that I am experiencing?
My second issue is what to do with a sweater that I don't like the way it came out. (<-- I know, my grammar there is horrendous) I spent a good $55 on yarn and a year and a half (intermittantly) working on this sweater. It came out beautifully, except for the neckline which I dislike very much. I made it in a very small size, because it's 100% cotton, which I assumed wouldn't have the stretch and recovery that wool has. I'm just not happy with the fit or the way it looks in general. The yarn is beautiful, and it's one of the yarns that I have a whole hank left over from (example #1 above).
It's very small, even for me, (body skimming, and I've gained a bit in the middle since I made it) and I don't know anyone who it would fit to give it to. Plus, it was my first sweater, and I learned a few things after the lumpy joinings of the second and third balls of yarn, which are at the sides, but still bother me.
Would you rip it out and recover the yarn, or let it sit, unworn and unloved for the rest of it's natural life? I don't know yet what I'd do with the recovered yarn if I did rip the whole thing out, but I'm sure something would present itself eventually.
Thank you in advance for your wisdom and experience! Happy Holidays to everyone! (not really sure how to tag this post)