Substituting Yarns

Author: Ewe-Nice   Date Posted:3 August 2023 

Another common question is around substituting different yarns and if they will work in another fiber. 

The simple answer is yes you can use a different yarn, as long as they are the same weight (Sport,DK,Aran/ 6ply,8ply,10ply etc.) but there are a few things to take into consideration.  

Firstly, is to make sure you have enough yarn. Take a read of our “How much yarn to buy” to check you have the right amount. 

Secondly, is what fiber was used in the original pattern and what effects the substitution will have. The biggest issue comes from stretch. Animal fiber yarns such as Wool and Alpaca have plenty of give in them, this means the finished garment is stretchier. Cotton and linen yarns have a lot less stretch so neck bands and sizing in general needs to be a little more generous in fit. This is why cotton and linen are not normally suited to patterns when a tight fit is important such as socks and beanies.  
If the original pattern is worked in animal fiber, generally it is better to stick to animal fibers, but you can change the blend. A pattern worked in an Alpaca yarn should work fine in a wool yarn and vice versa. Similarly, a cotton pattern will work in a linen yarn blend.  

When fit is not important, in blankets and shawls for example, yarns can be substituted with much less concern and they should all work. 

There are also times where you may want to substitute yarns that are different weight. If you knit a pattern with a thinner yarn, your finished item will have more drape. If you knit with a thicker yarn, the finished garment will be a lot heavier. Personally, I like a looser knit and more drape in a lot of my garments, so often pick a yarn that is slightly thinner than the pattern recommends, such as using a 4ply yarn for a 6ply pattern. This is a risky process, and it is always important to knit a gauge swatch to make sure your finished piece comes out the right size! 

If you want help selecting a yarn or advice on if a substitution will work, please get in touch. We are always here to help and love helping to match yarn to projects!