Knitters, and even crocheters, often substitute yarns for the pattern they are using, especially if the yarn called for is extremely expensive, out of season or simply no longer available.
As a new knitter you ask yourself, “Should I substitute yarn?” The answer, by all means yes, but make sure when substituting you keep the following in mind.
- To ensure proper yarn substitution and make sure that your pattern turns out correctly, knit a swatch for checking gauge. This is the most crucial part of substituting and cannot be stressed enough, do not skip this process.
- Try to substitute using similar weight. DK weight for DK weight, Super Bulky for Super Bulky and so on. This too will help when swatching for gauge.
- To determine the quantity of yarn that you will need for your project, you will need to make sure you know how many balls or skeins and yardage per ball or skein is called for in the pattern. To find this, you will multiply the number of yards by the number of balls or skeins needed. For example, let’s say your pattern calls for 9 balls of yarn with each ball or skein at 200 yards. To figure out the yardage, multiply 9 by 200 to equal 1,800 yards. Next, you need to determine the number of yards per ball or skein of the yarn you will be substituting. Find the total yardage noted on the tag and divide the total yardage required by the yardage of your new yarn. For example, if the yardage on the substitute yarn equals 350, then you will divide the total yardage determined from what the pattern calls for and divide by 350. Using the yardage that was determined, you would divide 1800 yards by 350 yards would equal 5.14 balls/skeins. Since you cannot purchase a half skein, you would need 6 balls or skeins for your project.
- Don’t worry if the substitute yarn is 100 grams vs. 50 grams or 2 oz. vs 5 oz., it’s the yardage that is most important when substituting, not how many grams or ounces that are in the ball or skein.
- Be consistent. Stick with one measurement system. If you multiplied yards times the number of balls or skeins, make sure you divide by yards, not meters, for the replacement ball or skein.
For further information, please review an article written by Knitty contributor Jenna Wilson, Thinking Beyond the Pattern… a field guide to yarn substitutions. If you own an iPod Touch, iPad or iPhone, be sure to check out the YarnPro app, which can be purchased through Apple’s App Store at iTunes and is wonderful for assisting you with yarn substitution. To learn more about this wonderful too, visit the SweatyKnitter.