Welcome to another edition of Tuesday’s Tips. This weeks tips are all about yarn and yarn substitution in your patterns. Here we go …
Go by Yardage – Or mostly in these days, meters. Knowledge is getting better and better everyday, so a lot of people now know that weight is not the way to decide how much yarn you need. 50 grams of wool is not the same as 50g of cotton, or mohair, or silk. Heck 50 grams of wool may not be the same as 50 grams of wool! Check the yardage on the ball when making an estimate of how many balls of 1 yarn to substitute for another. Then add 10% more just to be on the safe side. If you’re worrying about having too much don’t worry – your stash won’t mind
Check return policies – Before you go substituting one yarn for another (or even just before you buy a ball of yarn for anything), check with the store to find out what their return policy is. Some will say as long as you return the full ball you’re okay. Some go by whether or not they have the same dye lot and still others will go by time. You’ll also want to know if they charge a re-stocking fee before you decide to return it or grow that stash.
Check the contents – The other day I was buying some Classic Wool by Patons (one of my favorite yarns) because it was on sale at a ridiculous $3/ball! This gave me the idea to try a color I wouldn’t have normally tried – at least not right now anyway – Aran Tweed. I was surprised to see the tweed wasn’t the same fiber composition as the regular colors. Instead of being 100% wool, it was 90% wool, 7% acrylic, and 3% viscose. I’m assuming the acrylic and viscose are what they use to introduce the flecks of color that give it the tweedy look. In this instance it didn’t make much difference, but had the composition been much different it might have. Or I might have an allergy to acrylic or one of the fibers they added in the change. Never assume one ball of yarn is the same as another similar ball if the colors are different.
Swatch when changing colors – Speaking of color changes, it’s not just the composition that changes with color. Again, with the Classic Wool, you have natural shades (white, aran, …) and solid colors. Since I bought a few different colors during the sale, I also noticed that the thickness of the yarns varies considerably with the color changes. The natural shades (including the Aran Tweed) are much thicker and produce a different gauge than the solids (red, royal, emerald). This is noticeable when you’re knitting – so much so that it is advisable to do a swatch if you’re doing something involving color work. Over a few stitches it wouldn’t be a problem, but if you need to cast on 100 stitches for that sweater you’ll want to make sure you know what size needle to use!
Keep the quality consistent – If a specific garment asks for merino wool and you’re substituting it, stay with something that has the quality and characteristics of merino wool. Chances are they used merino wool for a reason – warmth, softness, drape … whatever. And chances are you wouldn’t get the same results with a bargain brand acrylic.
Stay true to character – If you’re making a large garment that originally calls for Mohair, you’ll want to make sure you get something light and airy as a substitute. The reverse is also true. This is because a large mohair garment that calls for 420 grams of mohair, would probably require about 1500 meters of fiber. 1500 meters of a wool in chunky weight (mohair usually knits to about 4 sts per inch) could be anywhere from 1200 g (2.5 lbs) to 1500g or more. This would be a considerable difference in the weight and hence drape of the garment. Be careful!
That’s our tips for this week. Have a great time knitting!