Yarn Subs…part 3

Today we reach the end of this short series about substituting yarn. We’ve talked about the things to consider ~ fiber content, yarn weight, yarn texture and gauge. Now we get to figure out how much of our choice for a substitute yarn we’ll need to buy.

Assuming we’ve chosen a yarn that will give us the same gauge as the original yarn, figuring out how much of the new yarn to buy is easier than you might think. The information you will need is:

  • How many yards/meters are/were in each ball or skein of the original yarn?
  • How many yards/meters are required to knit the size you want?
whiskey by reynolds yarns

“Whiskey” by Reynolds Yarns

We’ll use the original yarn from my “Treyi Vest” pattern for an example. The yarn I used was Reynolds Whiskey; which is now, sadly discontinued. This yarn was ‘put up’ in balls of 195 yds. To knit the sample size (finished chest 38″) I used 5 balls of yarn. Simply multiply the number of balls required by the yards per ball to find the total yards needed for the project. So.. 5 times 195 yds = 975 yds needed for the size I knit.

Now we know the total yards we need for our substitute yarn. In our example, I’m going to use Mountain Meadow Wyoming Series Cody. This yarn matches the original yarn almost identically, and I am able to achieve the gauge called for in the pattern.

cody by mountain meadow wool mill

Wyoming Series Cody by Mountain Meadow Wool Mill (photo by knittingsuzanne on ravelry.com)

So, we check the yards in a skein of our chosen yarn…which is 200 yds…then divide the total yards we need by the amount per skein of our new yarn. So..975 yds divided by 200 yds = 4.87 skeins. Since we can’t buy a partial skein, we know we need to buy 5 skeins of our new yarn.

And that’s all there is to figuring out how much of the new yarn you will need to substitute for the original yarn! If the yarn you choose produces a different gauge…the calculations are somewhat more complicated…and better left for another series.

I’ve been asked why I don’t use the oz/gram weight of the original & substitute yarns to determine how much of the new yarn will be needed. The reason is that there are many factors that go into what any particular yarn weighs. 4 oz of one yarn may not contain the same yards as 4 oz of another yarn. I find that using the yards is a more accurate way of determining how much yarn to purchase.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this short series. We’ll do more of these short series in future posts, so please let me know if there is a topic you’d like to see covered.

Happy Knitting ~ Jean