Do you ever seen an amazing pattern and think, "Wow, I love that, but I wish it were made in a different yarn"? Substituting a different yarn is an easy way to make a pattern truly unique. There are a few things to keep in mind when selecting a different yarn. Let's use the Inishturk Sweater as an example to illustrate each of these tips.
1. Check your gauge. You'll get the best results when you substitute a yarn with the same or similar gauge. But what if you're browsing yarn in a store? You can't just pull out your hooks and needles and do a gauge swatch without buying the yarn! In this case, look for a yarn within the same weight category, and then gauge swatch after your purchase. In our example, the Inishturk Sweater is knit in Fishermen's Wool, which is a worsted weight yarn, so you could consider substitution yarns like Amazing, Vanna's Choice, Cotton-Ease, and more. If you really want to use a yarn with a different gauge, you'll need to do some math. Click here for a blog post all about substituting different yarn weights.
2. Consider texture and color. These can make a big impact on the style of your finished project. Our example is knit in a solid shade of Fishermen's Wool, which is a smooth, traditional yarn. You wouldn't want to substitute a heavily textured yarn, as it would obscure the cables. What about Amazing? While Amazing has a similar gauge to Fishermen's Wool, it has a single ply construction with a slight halo, so the cables of the sweater wouldn't pop as much. Also, the color changes of Amazing would certainly change the look of the sweater. Is this the effect that you're going for? If so, great! If not, try something else. If you substitute Wool-Ease, another smooth, traditional yarn, you'll be using a similar texture while expanding your color choices.
3. Don't forget about yardage. You need to make sure you have enough yarn for your project, so always double-check the amount of yarn you'll need. For this, yardage is a more accurate measurement than weight. If yardage isn't indicated in the pattern, simply multiply the yardage per skein with the number of skeins required. The smallest size of the Inishturk Sweater requires 3 skeins of Fishermen's Wool. You'd be in a lot of trouble if you only bought 3 skeins of Wool-Ease, though! Each skein of Fishermen's Wool has 465 yards. 465 yards x 3 skeins = 1,395 yards. Wool-Ease has 197 yards per skein. 1,395 yards / 197 yards = 7.08 skeins. That means you'll want to round up to 8 skeins to be on the safe side.
Do you like to substitute yarns, or do you tend to use each pattern's suggested yarn? Let us know in the comments!