8 Tips to Follow When You Want To Substitute Yarn

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Yarns and a text overlay which says "8 Tips to Follow When You Want To Substitute Yarn, learnknittingonline.com," followed by the LKO lettermarkLearning how to substitute yarn is something that takes time and practice. There are many instances when you would need to change your yarn. Whether it has been discontinued, the price is too high, the fiber is not ideal, or simply, you want a change.

Before you embark on the journey of substituting your existing yarn, you should be aware that your decision could affect your future projects and budget. We all know how important it is to find the perfect yarn. But we all have made the mistake of buying something we thought was perfect, only to realize it did not work at all.

Using yarn seems like a given when you’re knitting. But have you tried working with a yarn that just doesn’t cut it? A whole project can be ruined with a bad substitute yarn. To make things worse, some stores don’t allow returns, and making mistakes can be expensive.

Here Are 8 Tips to Follow If You Want to Substitute Yarn

Tip #1:  Keep in mind the fiber you need

If you are making a project in which the yarn has to feel the same way as the original, then you have to choose a yarn with a similar fiber. Some examples include wool or cotton, both of which are very fibers that feel a certain way. When you are knitting a wool sweater, you could make it a cotton sweater. But the texture won’t be the same, and the sweater won’t be as warm either. The same is true when you swap cotton for wool, your project may become more rough and heavy

Another key factor about fiber is that certain yarns stretch more than others. It could affect the way your final product looks and how you can use it. Some yarns are good for heavier projects, giving them shape. Others should go into lighter items that are supposed to stretch.

For more on yarn fiber, check out this article: Understanding Yarn Fibers: A Knitter’s Guide

Tip #2: Remember the yarn gauge and weight

One key thing to keep in mind before you substitute your yarn is the gauge that the pattern requires. You will need a yarn that fits that gauge. If not, you may have to change patterns entirely and start from scratch. If you start with a looser gauge instead of a tight one that your pattern dictates, the end product will end up lighter and may even fall apart.

To account for gauge, you should look for yarns that fall into the same weight category as the yarn in the pattern. Keep in mind, though, that just because the gauge in your yarn doesn’t match the one in the pattern, it doesn’t mean that all is lost. You can still make this yarn work if you use a different needle, which may be the way to achieve the same gauge as the pattern.

You can learn more about yarn weight here: Yarn Thickness: A Guide to Choosing the Perfect Thread for Your Creations

Tip #3: Look at the details!  

Swatch your chosen yarn and see if it compares to the pattern. Is the gauge matching? Is it strong enough, or too tough? Make sure to test the drape of your knitted swatch, and see if you are happy with how well they match.

Tip #4: Be careful with how much yarn you buy

A rookie mistake is to buy too much yarn and then having to store it forever, or losing money because of it. A good way to prevent buying too much yarn is to look at the original pattern where there will likely be a measure of the yarn, weight, and the number of hanks or skeins it requires.

Once you figure out the amount of yarn you need, you can do some math to figure out how much new yarn you will need. If you only get the weight or number of skeins, you’ll need to do some of your research. Some good ideas include searching for the yarn online and then find the measurements of yarn per skein. You can use this number to determine how many skeins to buy.

In some cases, the yarn in the pattern you want is not made anymore. If that is the case, you can do some research on vintage knits that may have access to the information you need, including weight, yardage, fiber, and weight.

Tip #5: Double-check for weight and thickness

With all the styles in knitting and the many types of yarn out there, it may come as no surprise that there are many categories when it comes to thickness and weight. However, things can be different depending on where you buy your yarn, and whether they use a sub-category or not.

If you see that one size yarn is a 4 in one store and then another size on the Internet, you may be in trouble. When this happens, you are better off using the length/weight method.

Tip #6: Ask for help at your local yarn store

When in doubt, it is always best to seek help from professionals. In this case, that means going to your local yarn or craft store and talking to someone who can help you reach a decision. These stores have access to hundreds of yarn varieties that you can test, but also other resources you could use to find the best substitute. In some cases, they may even pitch in on what they think would work best.

Tip #7: Talk to other people about their yarn substitution experiences

Whether you are a beginner or an expert knitter, you know how important conversations are between knitters. If you have a knitting group, go to them with your pattern and ask for their opinion. If this isn’t an option, try an online group, which may help direct you onto good resources.

When you share your question with other knitters, chances are they will share a similar project with you. This way, you can compare what they have used for their pattern and how it looks after choosing a specific yarn. Sometimes they may not have a similar pattern to show you, but they can at least share their stores on how they substitute yarn on their own and you could get expert advice.

Tip #8: Make sure you have all the right materials before you start knitting

Since you decided to switch yarns, there is a chance that you may also have to change the needle. If so, you should be prepared to have everything ready to go before you start your pattern. The best way to ensure this, is to always have extra materials handy, which can also be helpful in the case of a mistake.

As we said before, it is recommendable that you check, double-check, and triple-check your measurements and materials before you buy something. Just in case, you may also want to ask someone at the store to help you compare and measure.

BONUS TIP: Use YarnSub for Accurate Substitutions

One of the best resources available for yarn substitution is the website YarnSub. This site allows you to search for yarns by brand, weight, fiber content, and more, providing you with a list of possible substitutes that match your original yarn as closely as possible.

YarnSub includes detailed information on each suggested yarn, such as gauge, texture, and fiber composition, helping you make an informed decision.

By using YarnSub, you can save time and avoid the frustration of trial and error, ensuring your project turns out just as you envisioned.

Time to get knitting with your new yarn!

Nothing can stop us knitters from our favorite activity. Sometimes, we get frustrated at how hard some patterns can be, or how uncooperative our needle is, or even when a yarn we love simply stops existing. These are all factors that may lead you to change your yarn, but now that you know how to do it correctly, your project won’t be affected and may even turn out better than before!

If you enjoyed this article, why not check out: What’s In A Name: – 11 Names For Yarn Balls And What They Mean

One Comment

  1. not all yarn is equal in a catigory ie worsted 4, ratio of stitches to rows if it is same qas original then just adjust needle size , or if rows are slightly off you can adjust row number to make up difference , just watch increases decreases and patterns they have to be adjusted as well

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