When I coach people in one-on-one sessions, they often tell me that they’d like to get better at substituting yarn.
Sometimes these are spinners who create their own yarns at home, or farmers who raise sheep or alpaca and have yarn spun from their wool for personal use. This is amazing! It does create some challenges, however, if you want to use your own yarn and not the yarn recommended in the pattern.
Learning to Substitute Yarns Is One of the Best Things You Can Do to Improve Your Knitting
I really encourage knitters to learn as much as they can about choosing their own yarns and not relying on the yarn recommended in the pattern.
The most basic way to substitute one yarn for another is to find a yarn similar to what’s recommended. This means finding a yarn similar in all the important yarn characteristics, which you will learn about if you invest a few dollars and a couple days studying the amazing resource called The Knitter’s Book of Yarn.
The characteristics, in my own words, are warmth, absorbency, bounce, structure, sheen, softness. The aspects of yarn that contribute these characteristics are the fiber source or mix of fibers, the way the yarn is spun, the way the yarn strands are plied (twisted), the number of plies… the list really does go on and on.
The best way to learn about yarn and how to substitute it is to get ahold of a copy of The Knitter’s Book of Yarn by Clara Parkes. You can get it at your local library, yarn store, or digitally. The Kindle version (which you can read on an actual Kindle OR using the free Kindle app on any mobile device) is $13.99 as of the time of publication of this post.
The Book Comes with 38 Gorgeous Patterns
One of my favorite things about The Knitter’s Book of Yarn is that it comes with 38 patterns that are unique, original, and absolutely beautiful. I have learned a lot from practicing the patterns in this book. Below are a few of my favorites.