Yarn Substitutions

For my very first post, I thought I would talk about yarn substitutions and the things one needs to consider when changing up the recommended yarn for a particular pattern/design. Both the knitter/crocheter and the designer want the same outcome – a pleased satisfaction with the finished product, an item well wrought.

You've chosen the pattern but now you find that your local yarn store (LYS) doesn't carry the specified brand of yarn. If you are like me, you want to get started right away and don't want to wait for the yarn to be shipped to you. Or maybe you are working on a stash reduction program and buying more yarn is not the preferred option. Or possibly your yarn budget doesn't allow for the more expensive yarn specified in the pattern and you want to be more economical in your choice of yarn. Maybe the fibre content of the specified yarn is not appropriate for the recipient and yarn with a different fibre content would be more suitable.

Here are some of the criteria you will need to consider when substituting


fibre content


yardage per ball/skein

yardage needed to complete pattern

yarn properties: texture, tightness of twist, sheen

Some of these are interconnected. The thickness/weight of the yarn in combination with a particular needle/hook size will determine the gauge. The fibre content will influence the yardage of a ball/skein. Two 100 gram balls of worsted weight yarn of differing fibre content will not have an equal length of yarn in each ball. This needs to be a consideration when determining the amount of yarn needed to complete the design/pattern. Are the yarn properties of the substitution yarn similar to the specified yarn?

While wandering about the internet I discovered the most amazing site. Possibly you've found it already and I'm late to the game but oh my goodness, it is perfect. You need to check out yarnsub.com for your next yarn substitution. The information it retrieves is fabulous. I'm super impressed with the amount of research that has gone into the back end of this piece of software. After typing in the yarn name into the search box and clicking on search, the results pop up. First there is a list of the characteristics of the named yarn: weight, texture, fibre, needles, gauge, ball weight and yardage, care instructions and relative price. Below that is a list of suggested substitutions with information about which characteristics match the original specified yarn. What a super helpful site. Designers can use this to add a statement outlining the preferred characteristics of a substitution yarn to ensure that the resulting finished item with the substitution yarn would have the same properties as the original.