Change the Yarn- Tips for Yarn Substitutions

We have all done it, and sometimes it goes well, others it does not. I am talking about yarn substitution.

Honestly, I never really thought about the yarn I was substituting. I would find a yarn I loved then pick out a pattern I liked and just begin working up my stitches. I never looked at gauge, I never paid attention the fiber or even the weight of the yarn.

In some cases things worked out fine, in others I found myself with items smaller, or firmer, or just plain awkward looking. So I have learned, and it is time to share some insights.

First realize that the pattern you find was designed in a specific yarn. The way it looks in the photo is because of this specific yarn. Changing the yarn will change the effect, maybe the drape, maybe even the size.

Now what to compare to make the change.

Check the weight of the yarn. The weight is in essence the diameter of the strand of yarn, it can be assigned a number (from 0 lace-7 super chunky) or given a name such as lace, thread, sock, fingering, baby, sport, DK, worsted, Aran, chunky, craft, bulky, roving.  These numbers or names are assigned by the manufacture and finding matching yarns at least get you in the ball park that the yarns are similar.

However there are times that you pick up a yarn and it doesn’t have a weight listing by number of name, but it does have a knitting gauge listed. This gauge can help you make the weight comparison too. Yarns that have the same gauge, using the same size needles, will be also be compatible in weight. If the yarns are using the same size needles in the gauge but the stitch and row counts are not the same, the yarn with the higher number of stitches in the gauge will be thinner than the other.

Another way many compare the weight, is to compare the yard/meters and the ounces/grams of the skein. If a skein states that it is 400yrd/366m and 1.75oz/50g it would be compatible with a yarn of 425rds/388m and 1.75oz/50g, but not compatible with a yarn that was listed as 600yd/549m and 1.75oz/50g, as the latter yarn is much thinner. It is a comparison of yards/meters and comparison if ounces/grams that help you see if things are in the same ball park.

The next thing to consider when comparing yarns if the fiber content. In some cases it may not make much of a difference, but a few fibers act completely different from one another. For instance if you are substituting a wool yarn with a lot of bounce or springiness, with a 100% silk you fabric will not even resemble each other. The silk tends to have a lot of drape, it flows, and in comparison to the wool will be limper. Whereas the wool will have some stretch and spring back into place.

Yarns with similar fiber content will behave similarly, so use caution if the labels vary greatly.

Now that you have found a yarn to substitute, if you want to ensure that you will be happy with the outcome of your project, make a gauge swatch. If you make gauge and are happy with how the fabric feels and looks, make your project.

 

Stair Step Wrap- Free Pattern

I have always appreciated relatively simple repeat patterns that are successful with only 1 skein, so playing with this design I have actually created a few different variation. The Stair Step Wrap increases is worked side to side, with one edge being straight and the other having all the increasing and decreasing be worked.

It is simple enough to use any yarn in this pattern, simply choose a compatible hook for the yarn, and work the increase end of the pattern until you have used half of the yarn, then begin the decrease end of the pattern. To know if you have reached the “half way” point of a skein, you can use a kitchen scale to weigh the remaining yarn and subtract this from the total weight of the skein. This should be noted on the band wrapper for the yarn, if not simply weigh all the yarn, used and unused together and divide by 2 to find the halfway point.

Stair Step Wrap

Materials:

  • Mountain Colors Twizzle light weight 85% merino wool, 15% silk yarn (100g/240 yrds) colorway Lupine
  • L/8mm crochet hook

Special Stitches

BegV= (Ch 4, dc in same st) counts as dc + ch 1

V st= (dc, ch 1, dc) in same st

Increase End

Row 1: Ch 4, dc in first ch, turn.

Row 2: BegV, sk 1 ch, dc in next ch, turn.

Row 3: Ch 3, V st between 1st 2 sts, sk dc and 1 ch, V st in next ch, turn.

Row 4: BegV, V st between next V sts, dc in turning ch, turn.

Row 5: Ch 3, V st between dc and V st, V st bet V sts, sk dc and 1 ch, V st in next ch, turn.

Row 6: BegV, V st bet each V st across, dc in turning ch, turn.

Row 7: Ch 3, V st between dc and V st, V st bet each V sts across, sk dc and 1 ch, V st in next ch, turn.

Row 8-31: Rep Rows 6 & 7

Row 32: Rep Row 6

Decrease End

Row 33: Ch 3, V st between dc and V st, V st bet each V sts across, sk dc and 1 ch, dc in next ch, turn.

Row 34: Ch 3, V st bet each V st across, dc in turning ch, turn.

Row 35-62: Rep Rows 33 & 34

Row 63: Ch 3, V st between dc and V st, sk dc and 1 ch, dc in next ch, turn.

Row 64: Ch 3, sk V st, dc in turning ch, fasten off. Weave in ends, block.

I have worked this up in a couple of different yarns, this one I like too. It was made with Plymouth Yarns Arya Ebruli 

 

Stacked Ladders Cowl- Free Pattern

I find that there are times when designs just fly off my hook, while the other times I cannot even bring myself to pick up that hook. Fortunately I have been living in the world of the former and not the latter as of late. As a result I have a new free pattern available for you!

Stacked Ladders Cowl grew out of my playing with a skein of Anzula Croquet yarn. The yarn is light weight and a 50/50 blend of Superwash Merino and Tussah Silk. It honestly is a luxurious yarn to work with, it is so soft and even what I would call billowy or lofty, while still being quite structurally strong.

This Cowl takes only 1 skein, and is a quick project, so it is perfect to check out a “new to you” yarn while creating a gift for yourself or someone special.

It is a light, airy design that is a great transition piece for fall or spring. If you are not a cowl fan, it is simple enough to just work it as a scarf.

This design is worked up with a large hook, but if you do not have anything quite this large, use the largest hook you feel comfortable with, you will be happy with the results.

Stacked Ladders Cowl

Materials:

  • Anzula Croquet light weight 50% superwash merino, 50% tussah silk yarn, (230yrds/210m/114g) sample colorway Madam
  • L/8mm crochet hook

Ch 34

Row 1: Sc in 2nd ch from hook, sk 3 chs, (ch 3, sc in next ch) 8 times, turn.

Rows 2 and 3: Ch 1, sc in same st, (ch 3, sc in next sc) 8 times, turn.

Row 4: Ch 6, dc in next sc, (ch 3, dc in next sc) 7 times, turn.

Row 5: Ch 1, sc in same st, (ch 3, sc in next dc) 7 times, ch 3, sk 3 chs, sc in next ch, turn.

Rows 6 and 7: Rep Rows 2 and 3.

Row 8: Rep Row 4.

Rows 9-100: Rep rows 5-8. Fasten off. Seam Row 1 to Row 100 while weaving in ends.

 

Camac- My New Favorite Design

Crochet and time have interesting effects for me. I have spoken before about how crochet traps memories and such (you can read that here), but designing can also be a bit of a time travel. I can be commissioned to create a design for a yarn company or magazine and after it is finished I have to wait months to see how everything finally comes out.

After waiting what seems like forever, I am finally able to share the Camac! This is a long cardigan or coat, depending on your leaning, that really lends itself to style and comfort. It is mid-thigh length and worked in as seamless as possible, needing only seam the shoulders and sleeves, the body is worked as one piece.

The simple stitch pattern really allows the yarn to make some dazzling affects as it shines as the hero. This design is created in Manos del Uruguay Gloria, a soft superwash Merino medium weight yarn, which is a dream to work with. It has nice stitch definition and has a great variety of colors (my sample is in colorway Malaquita)

There is a simple turned edge boarding this entire coat that is actually the same stitch pattern as the rest of the fabric but uses a much larger hook to create a contrast in the fabric. The change in the hook size causes a tension between the two fabrics and this causes the edge to curl. I think it adds a simple yet endearing quality to this design.

Honestly I love the mid-thigh length, it offers a wrap yourself up in it kind of feel, that warms my heart has well as keeps me warm. I tend to find that sweaters designed to hit the waist area makes me look a bit shorter while a longer length helps elongate my appearance, so I tend to lean this way a bit in my designing. If for some reason you want to make this design shorter for your liking, simply finish the row rep for the Body section a few rows early.

It is nice to finally see the end product of your work, it is usually always worth the wait (you can check it out here).

Photos courtesy of Fairmount Fibers.

A Crochet High- Returning from Conference

Last week I was teaching at the Crochet Guild of America annual Chainlink conference in Portland, Oregon, and you know it had to be a good time when it takes you 4 days to finally unpack. Okay 4 days may not seem like long to some, but I am usually unpacked the same day I arrive home with the laundry in the washer….however this time I just didn’t have the energy, I left it in Portland.

I taught a variety of classes, interestingly enough, I taught 4 classes at a crochet conference and none of them were actually crochet. Well one was, but it was about understanding patterns and how to read them better, the other 3 were not nearly as crochet focused.

I taught how to use beads in your work in my Beads 3 Ways class. It was a room full and everyone put their own style and twist on the necklace we were creating. There were definitely some talented and creative people in that room. They took silk, and threads (from Kreinik threads), and beads (from Bead Biz) and learned different applications to add them to their crochet (or knitting) projects.

Then I spent the entire day teaching people how to actually make yarn in my Drop Spindle class. Everyone made yarn, which is an exciting prospect just in itself. We worked with some different fibers (from Weaver Creek Fibers), and got the hang of drafting, spinning, and parking. We then plied our works and got to experience how to card wool. I haven’t taught that class in a while, and I have to say I was so impressed with what the students created.

The next morning was the class that caused me to drive 12 hours to Portland…Home Dyeing…how to safely dye your own yarn. I am pretty sure everyone had fun in this class. I had to drive to ensure that all  the equipment needed was there for me, so it allowed us to set up dyeing stations and play with all kinds of fiber (from Lisa Souza Dyeworks), with a variety of dyes and techniques. The artistic expression of the students really came out when we just jumped right into all the colors and combinations. There may have been some trash talk, completely in jest, with the class next door as they were learning how to color pool yarn. I had to put forth a challenge that were we dyeing yarn that they could not pool, my fellow instructor and friend, Vashti Braha was up for the challenge. She and I really had brainstormed ways we could work our classes together, but that didn’t come together so this little challenge was a nice addition.

Then I blinked and just like that all my classes were taught. Granted there were plenty of other events that helped cause my days to fly by, there was the member meeting I lead, and the recognition of all the Master Program graduates and Design Competition winners, then the Fastest Fingers Competition where I judged the finals, and you can never forget the CGOA Banquet and Fashion Show. It really is a whirl wind, and I didn’t even join in the actives of the first day.

I have to admit, I have been hooked since I attended my first Chainlink conference in 2011, it just feels like home.