How to find a yarn that fits your pattern
Do you know how to substitute a yarn with another? It’s important to choose wisely when choosing another yarn for a pattern.
If the yarn doesn’t match your pattern there may be a big disappointment waiting for you at the finishing line of your project.
But on the other hand, if you spend a few minutes on learning the essentials of yarn subbing that won’t happen!
The two things you need to know to substitute yarn
To work around these issues with yarn weight, you have to look for two pieces of information. Luckily, these pieces of information can always be found on the yarn label. No matter if you shop in the US, Europe or Australia.
What to look for on the yarn label
- Fiber content
- Meters/yards per grams/ounce
The importance of fiber content
It’s important to choose a yarn of the same fiber when substituting yarn.
Fibers act in mysterious ways, or at least in a few different ways depending on their origin and how they are combined.
If you switch fibers they won’t have the same characteristics as the yarn the pattern was written for.
The relation between length and weight will also be different. Wool yarn and cotton yarn with the same length/weight isn’t necessarily the same thickness. This is because cotton is heavier than wool.
––> This post goes through how to pick yarn and how different fibers behave. How to pick yarn for my next knitting project?
The relation between length and weight
The relation between the length and weight of a yarn is a fast, easy and accurate measurement to use when substituting yarn.
Just look for the meters or yard per number of grams or ounces on the yarn label of the yarn stated in your pattern.
When you know this it’s easy to search for a yarn with the same fiber content and the same relation between the length and weight to substitute with.
You could ask in your local yarn store, look at online yarn stores or, my favorite: Search for it on Ravelry!
Yarn weight describes the thickness of a yarn. To make things easier yarns are divided into categories.
To make it harder, on the other hand, several systems for yarn weight are used depending on where you buy your yarn.
There is also this problem with sub-categories. For example, size 4, includes worsted, light worsted, heavy worsted, and aran.
This is a problem when you’re substituting yarns. One size 4 can be a bit thicker than another size 4 which will affect your project. Yarn weights are absolutely one way to go, but not as safe as using the length/weight-method.
––> I have written about yarn weights more in-dept here. The post also includes a conversion sheet for yarn weights.
When you don’t have a label make a swatch!
Sometimes you don’t have a label, but don’t give up. Just knit a swatch instead.
You can make a swatch and calculate the gauge you’re getting with that yarn on a pair of needles.
Gauge is the number of stitches in 10 cm or 4″. Sometimes the gauge is stated for rows as well. Then you have to count how many rows you have on 10 cm or 4″.
The gauge is crucial for the result of your finished project.
A bulletproof way to determine if the yarn you’re considering is going to be a disaster or a success in combination with your pattern is to make a swatch. Then you can measure and see for sure if your gauge with this yarn is right.
Often we don’t have the opportunity to make a swatch before buying the yarn. Obviously you can’t make a swatch in the yarn store, measure, unravel it and put the yarn up on the shelf again 🙂 So, we need a another way to get the same result!
––> If you feel a bit insecure about gauge or knitting swatches, you can learn everything you need to know in this post: How to measure gauge