Substituting yarn in knitting

Julkaistu: 15.06.2021

You want to knit up a pattern but want to use different yarn? Maybe the yarn isn’t available, or is even discontinued or it just doesn't seem to be the right choice for you and you want to use something different. So how to choose something else instead? 

Yarn substitution can be daunting, but it is not that difficult actually. We wrote down a few tips for you. Of course you can always ask help from us online or in our store! We are here to help you! You can also filter yarns by yarn weights in our webshop. Select Knitting Yarns, then Filters and you’ll get to Yarn Weight.

  1. Yarn weight
    First look at the yarn band or find the info online of the original yarn used in the pattern. We mean really scrutinize it! The yarn band is there for a reason, it does give you info about the yarn weight. On some yarn bands the weight of the yarn is clearly stated. You can determine the yarn weight by looking at the meterage/yardage on the button band or by checking the suggested gauge. Check here the Craft councils chart or Ravelry or Wikipedia. Substitute yarn from the same weight category. If the pattern calls for a DK-weight yarn, the easiest option is to go with another DK-weight yarn. But of course there are a few buts. 

  1. Fiber content

It’s easiest to substitute with a similar yarn, wool yarn with wool. But don’t be afraid to try something else! Just keep in mind that linen, cotton and other plant fibers behave differently. 

  1. Go for a finer yarn
    Keep the same material but go for a finer yarn. Hold it double or triple if needed. Here is Susanna Winter’s great article on how to do that.

  1. Swatch!

Buy 1 skein of the intended yarn(s) and knit a swatch! We can’t address the importance of knitting a swatch. Whatever the yarn ends up to be, knit a 15 cm x 15 cm swatch to get the feel of the fabric and if it’s really the right yarn for your project. It’s not just about getting the correct gauge for the pattern, it is also about how it feels. If it feels off, look for another alternative and repeat steps 1-5 and. 

These are just a few short tips on how to start. One great option is to check the project on Ravelry and what yarn is used by other knitters to get an idea for a substitute yarn.

There are YouTube videos and websites available to make our life easier. 

Here are a few:

Stashlounge This site calculates the amount of skeins/balls you need if you are using a different yarn. Pretty handy! Pro tip, always buy 1 extra skein just in case! Here you type in any yarn you want to substitute and the website gives you alternatives from a vast yarn database.

What to do if the skein band doesn’t specify the yarn weights? Check the meters/yardage per skein and of course how the yarn is. Is it thin or thick? 

Meters per 100 grams

1. Thread/Cobweb yli 1000 m / 100g

2. Lace 600-1000 m

3. Light Fingering 450-600 m

4. Fingering 360-450 m

5. Sport 270-360 m

6. DK 220-270 m

7. Worsted 180-220 m

8. Aran 160-180 m

9. Bulky/Super Bulky less then 160 m