So, you have a pattern you want to make and it suggests a yarn, BUT the suggestion is too expensive, unavailable, or maybe you just don't like it. So you find another yarn, But how then do you go about choosing from the 1,657,243,091 yarns available?
1. Look for Alternate Suggestions in the Pattern.
In most of my published patterns, I try to offer 2 yarn choices - the yarn that the pattern is made in and at least one other. I always try to ensure there is a more budget friendly option of the two (but admit that I don't usually suggest 100% acrylic yarns). It is quite common practice to give yarn alternatives in patterns, so look there first to see what the designer suggests. (note, we do not list alternatives in The Crochet Project patterns, because as part of our yarn support agreement, we promote their yarns exclusively).
2. Find a Yarn of Similar Weight
Your pattern should tell you is the weight of the yarn. As a first step towards yarn substitution, you want to find something that gets the same gauge as required by the pattern. Choosing a yarn of similar weight is a good place to start, so DK = DK, etc. If you can't find what you are looking for, don't forget you can double up yarn as discussed in our handy dandy cheat sheet.
Whenever you make a yarn substitution, you need to swatch and adjust your hooks accordingly. Don't forget - if you are getting only one part of the gauge (only rows or stitches) it may be that the yarn isn't suitable.
(Now, this is actually more flexible than this - you CAN get the same gauge by pairing different weights of yarn with different hooks, but that is a more complex lesson than I am going into.)
3. Find a Yarn of Similar Properties
The easiest way to substitute yarn is to look for yarn of a similar make up. If the yarn called for is a 50/50 wool/alpaca mix, then start looking there. Of course you can substitute other materials - but if you are making something with a lot of drape, then make sure your yarn can do that for you. Check out this great run down of different fibers or really want to dig in deep, why not check out The Knitter's Book of Yarn.
4. Get the Right Amount
Your pattern should list the amount of yarn required - either in lengths or in balls/skeins. You will need to figure out how much of a new yarn you need to make your pattern. If the pattern lists a yardage/meterage, then the math should be straight forward. If it is listed in balls - it would be better to look at how many meters/yards are in each ball/hank and use that to calculate how much yarn you need.
For example: my pattern says I need 5 balls of Rico Merino Aran. I want to use Rico Creative Cotton Aran instead.
Rico Cotton = 85m/50g ball
Rico Merino Aran = 100m/50g ball
My pattern calls for 5 balls of Merino, which makes 500m
500m of Cotton = 5.88 balls (500/85) (I would need to buy 6 balls to make the pattern)
5. Still Confused?
ASK! I have said it before and I will say it again - ask your local yarn store. Most are filled to the brim with people who love talking about wool. Alternatively, Ravelry is the mega tool for yarn geekery. Go to yarn>advanced search and use the tick boxes at the side to choose the weight and properties of the yarn you are looking for. When researching yarns for book, I use Deramores search function, as this also helps me figure out the price of alternatives.
Still Coming Up in Crochet Camp:
- Interviews with Claire Montgomerie of Inside Crochet and the Island Wool Company
- A Guest Pattern on Ripples by Joanne Scrace
- Tunisian Crochet - an overview
IS THERE ANYTHING I HAVEN"T COVERED THAT YOU WERE DYING TO KNOW? This is your last chance to ask!