How to know which wool to use for your pattern

While most patterns suggest which yarn to use, it’s not always the one you want.

There might be an alternative yarn you like, or the recommended wool isn’t available (one of the downsides to living in New Zealand, am I right?).

The FibreSpace team regularly get asked about what yarn people can substitute on a pattern – and we love customising our projects and using indie wool.

The trick is to look at the tension quoted in the pattern and the size of the needles they suggest. The list below should give you a rough idea of what thickness the pattern requires.

4ply yarn
28 stitches and 36 rows, to 10 x 10 cm, over stocking stitch
31/4mm needles.

Double knitting (DK) yarn
22 stitches and 28 rows, to 10 x 10 cm, over stocking stitch
4mm needles.

Aran yarn
18 stitches and 24 rows, to 10 x 10 cm, over stocking stitch
5mm needles.

Chunky yarn
14 stitches and 19 rows, to 10 x 10 cm, over stocking stitch
61/2mm needles.

Things to remember when picking a substitute yarn:

The material – choose a yarn that has a similar fibre content (wool for wool or cotton for cotton) where the tension is the same or very similar.

You can change up the needle size to get the tension right – so if the pattern states 30 stitches and 38 rows over stocking stitch, you may be able to use 4ply yarn for this – but use 3mm needles instead of 31/4mm.

For more information on tension, go here.

Always knit a tension swatch first with your preferred yarn. It’s better to knit a few swatches using different needles or materials until you get the right tension.

Read more on how to knit a tension square and why it’s a good idea. 

Look at the length of yarn on a ball or skein – if the meterage figures are close, then the yarn amount quoted should be the same.

If the meterage is different, multiply the length of the suggested yarn by the amount of balls, or skeins, quoted. Then divide this by the number of metres stated on your preferred yarn and that should give you the number of balls you need to complete your project!

If you need any help, get in touch!

What awesome projects have you gone rogue on? Share your projects with us in the comments or on Facebook!