I rarely make a crochet project with the exact yarn that the designer specified in her pattern. I use a yarn that appeals to me and I thought I’d share a few thoughts about that with you since my design is going to be the CAL project for May!
Well-written patterns always contain some sort of gauge. That’s the size of a sample swatch that the designer’s yarn worked up to, using their hook size, and their personal crocheting style. Working up a gauge swatch is really quite a simple process, but it can reveal some pretty amazing things.
First, it can show you if the finished size of your item will be on target, using your chosen yarn and hook size, and working in your own individual crocheting style. You can then determine whether you should go up a hook size or two in order to enlarge your work or down a hook size or two to tighten up a bit.
And second, preparing a gauge swatch shows you how the yarn behaves. Some yarns are soft and silky and drape very nicely, which is great if you’re making a garment perhaps, but not so great if you’re expecting a sturdy basket, for instance. Other yarns are stiff by comparison. A heavy cardigan over-garment might be good for this type of yarn, but a blanket might not feel so cozy.
Now, just how do you find an appropriate yarn substitute? If you have access to a local yarn store, don’t be afraid to go to their yarn petting-zoo to see different yarns in person! I often start my pondering by visiting this great website: https://yarnsub.com/. Their database is ever-growing and can give a really good starting point, especially if the yarn originally called for is a complete mystery to you.
I dove through my stash and found several different Category 1 weight yarn, also called fingering weight. Even though they are in the same weight category and work up to about the same size swatch, they give very different results from fuzzy, to silky, to crisp!
The multi-color pink/purple Scheepjes Invicta Colour yarn near the top right of my photo is very fuzzy and gives a gorgeously romantic haze to the project. Loops & Threads Woolike, the wine colored swatch at bottom right and the silver at top center is very soft and silky. And the Red Heart It’s a Wrap pictured in the sample swatch at bottom left and the cake at top left creates a very crisp and distinct stitch definition since it is a cotton blend yarn.
Some other substitutes suggested by the above website are Scheepjes Whirl, Knit Picks Comfy Fingering, and Premier Wool-Free Sock. I like them all, and I think it is exciting that one pattern can be used with different yarns and still come out great! So, don’t be afraid to experiment with your yarn and hooks. That’s all part of the fun of crocheting!
~ Cara Louise