How to Find Substitute Yarns

Knitting Patterns

It drives me crazy. At times. I mean… how dare yarn sellers run out of stock of exactly that yarn that I need to make a pattern? Can you believe it?! Yes, I can. But, in reality, we don’t need to be annoyed at all. It’s an adventure!!! Because we can easily look up which yarn to substitute for what when making a pattern. Here’s how to find substitute yarns.

What Brings all this on?

I’m writing this post today as I just posted this super cute Berroco suede-effect fringe skirt knitting pattern. I love it. Don’t you?

Fringe skirt knitting pattern - berrocco

How to Find Substitute Yarns

You want to choose a yarn of a similar weight and texture.

Yarns Come and Go

Yes, “yarns come and go, but knitting is forever”. (Mmmm… cute quote for an embroidery or Instagram post, but that’s beside the point. The point is that it’s a fact of life: yarn businesses do go out of business and unless it’s a best seller, yarn creators constantly change their types of yarn.

And with some lovely innovations, I might add. So I am not disputing that it is overall a good thing. But it does require us to bet brilliant at yarn substitution when we have finally found that pattern that we like.

Berroco Suede

How to Find Substitute Yarns, Step-by-step

So here we go. Our best attempt to help you find a substitute yarn. Let’s work out how you do this.

STEP 1: First up, look at the recommended needle size of the yarn. Individual knitters may recommend other needles, as they use two strands for example, so go to the source of this info: the yarn maker.

For for Berroco Suede, the yarn’s recommended knitting needle size is 8 (US) or 5.00 mm for the rest of the world.

STEP 2: Next is to determine, what other yarn that needs this kind of knitting needles is called. So, in this case, according to my search at ravelry, this would be ‘worsted’ weight yarn.

So, now you can look for other worsted weight yarns, but you still need to check a few things:

  1. Materials used. Berroco suede is a faux suede made from nylon fibres.
  2. Ensure that you will have enough yards for your pattern, by comparing the yardage of each skein.
  3. Check that the other worsted weight yarn also calls for 8 (US) or 5.00 mm as that is not always the case. It could be 5.5, 5,0 or 4.5 mm for example.
  4. Verify that the stitch count is similar. E.g. 19 stitches and 28 rows = 4″ (10 cm) is the gauge of Berroco Suede. If you are going to convert to say Paintbox yarns Cotton Aran, then you’ll notice that its gauge is 20 stitches and 24 rows = 4″ (10 cm). So, you’ll need to make a minor adjustment.

Switching to Another Type of Yarn

If I were to make this skirt in another type of yarn, I would probably pick a cotton-linen blend for Spring/Summer, or a woollen blend for Fall.

Wool is really good at retaining its shape. So that’s a winner yarn for skirts. Meanwhile, I just love wearing cotton, linen, hemp and similar yarns, so whenever possible I look for this.

Yarn Weight – Up and Down

While you are substituting yarn, you also might want to make it a quicker knit, or more finely made. Up to you.

  • If you want slightly thinner yarn, go for DK weight.
  • For somewhat thicker yarn, look for Aran weight instead. (Although Aran weight is sometimes substituted for worsted weight). So if your substitute yarn has no ‘aran’, then go for ‘bulky’ yarn.

Actually, sometimes all you can find is a yarn that is lightly thinner /thicker, and you’ll just have to make-do.

Approach for How to Find Substitute Yarns

The best approach is to see this as an adventure, and for you to make something totally unique and your own. After all, you get to have your own choices.

Good luck and have fun with substituting yarn!

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