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Wet Coast Wools Podcast Episode 104: Yarn Subs!

September 25, 2020

Wet Coast Wools Podcast Episode 104: Yarn Subs!

Filmed on Friday, September 25th, 2020

Welcome to all our new and returning viewers! We are coming to you via Zoom, from Wet Coast Wools and Vancouver!

Visit us online at www.wetcoastwools.com! We are WetCoastWools on all the things.
Glenda is glendamcdonald on Instagram, and Glenda on Ravelry
Kelsey is fiddlebach and Kzipknits on both instagram and Ravelry

Time Stamps:
FOs: 00:05:38:21
Sweater Segment: 00:53:13:26
Store News: 01:22:13:10

Finished Objects

Glenda is wearing: Rachel, by Josee Paquin, knit in Holst Garn Supersoft Uld in Prune

  • Update on Catbells Cardigan, by Megan Noedecker (Not Shown!). The pattern is now available; I decided not to shorten the sleeves after all…

  • So. Many. Hats. Made with leftovers, no real pattern.

  • Robotto Hat. The hat part was made up, but the colourwork robots are from Robotto, by Nanna Gudmand-Høyer. This is a free sweater pattern from Ficolana, so I just borrowed the chart.

  • Flax, by Tin Can Knits. Knit in Leftovers of KnitPicks Wool of the Andes Tweed, and some River City Yarns Epic Yarn in Light Grey.

  • S37-5 Lillesand Jumper by DROPS design, knit in Diamond Luxury Merino Supreme in Navy and Light Grey (from deep stash)

Kelsey is wearing: Serena Shadow Shawl by Antonia Shankland, knit in Dragonfly Dyewerx Sparkle Sock in Zombies like Turkey Too,
Zwerger Garn Opal 4 fach 4 ply
 in Navy, and Indigo Moon Pure Luxury in True North Green.

Works in Progress



Sweater Segment:

Today’s topic is yarn substitution!

I want to make Pattern X, which yarn do I need?

There are a few things that you need to consider:
Characteristics of the original yarn - what is the yarn thickness, how many balls, how many metres per ball?
Gauge - actual gauge, and gauge in relation to the yarn choice
Fibre content of the original yarn and how that plays into the look of the project

1: The most basic way to substitute yarn is to find a yarn of a similar thickness, and then make sure you have the correct amount…. My first step is to look up the specified yarn on Ravelry to find it’s weight and yardage per ball, and work from there.

Find something of the same thickness, and then work out how many balls of the new yarn are needed to give you the right quantity of yarn used in the pattern (ie: 5 skeins of pattern yarn at 150m/skein = 750m. If the replacement yarn is 125m/ball then you’ll need 6 skeins of the replacement yarn, and you’ll have leftover).

If you have 2 yarns of the same fibre content, the meters/100 gram measurement indicates thickness of the yarn. Fewer meters = thicker yarn. This doesn’t work once you start swapping fibres.

Always do a gauge swatch to make sure that you get the correct gauge with the replacement yarn!! You may need to adjust your needle size with a different yarn. Also, even if you choose to knit a yarn tighter or more loosely to get the right gauge, your row gauge may change significantly. That could affect how much yarn you need for a project.

Other things to consider:
2: What is the gauge of the pattern, and how does it relate to the yarn used?
Yarn weight categories are defined by gauge - Lace weight is 33sts and finer, Fingering is 27-32ish, DK is 24-22, etc. The gauges listed on the yarn labels tend to create a firm sweater fabric (in the case of sock yarn, I think they give you a dense sock gauge). Modern patterns often do not stick to these gauge ranges.

Case in point: I did a Ravelry search for sweaters knit with a gauge of 20 sts/4” - the patterns in the first row of results used DK weight, Worsted weight, Fingering, and a combination of lace + fingering (one strand of which was mohair). In just the DK patterns, needle sizes ranged from 3.5mm to 4.5mm.

If you knit a worsted weight yarn at 20 sts vs. a fingering weight yarn at 20 sts, you will get two very different fabrics, even if they have the same gauge. If you aren’t comfortable with substituting yarns, or if you are really in love with the look of a pattern, I usually recommend matching the yarn weight, not the gauge. Again, you will need to make sure that you get the right needle size to match that stitch gauge in order to make the pattern.

  1. How does the fibre of the suggested yarn affect the finished item? In principle, it is best to find a substitute yarn with a similar fibre content as the suggested yarn, so that your finished project will look and behave like the original. But this is not always possible due to availability, cost of certain yarns, allergies, etc. Instead, consider the fabric characteristics of the item you’re making…

Fuzzy yarns (mohair, brushed alpaca) need more space between the stitches to enhance the halo. You will often see mohair yarns knit at very loose gauges; if you swap for a non-fuzzy yarn of the same weight your fabric could be too loose at the specified gauge. Alternatively, if you use a thicker yarn and match gauge, the fabric will be much more dense and heavy

Superwash wool drapes differently than non-superwash wool. It can stretch with wear and washing - will that be good or bad for the look of your garment over time? ie: are you making a loose cardigan or a fitted little chanel-style jacket?

How much memory is in the original yarn? Llama / alpaca / and camel yarns have very little memory, so they will drape and hang. If you swap out a wool yarn, you may not get the desired effect (I face this one often, because I can’t really wear alpaca and llama).

If you want to swap to a plant fibre, remember that cotton is very heavy. Cascade Ultra Pima cotton (DK weight) has 200m per 100g ball. A similar wool yarn will have about 260m/100g. Look for cotton blends (viscose, etc) if possible, or cotton with elastic (Vegan Yarn Pleiades Sock, Cascade Fixation). Otherwise, make a big swatch, and hang it up to dry to emulate wear.

Always make sure to knit, wash, and block your swatch to check gauge before casting on for your project!!

Store News:

We are open for in-store shopping, but ask that you please follow our health and safety protocols:

  • Please wear a mask when you come to the shop!

  • Please do not come in if you are feeling unwell, even if you do not have Covid.

  • Only 2 people in the shop at one time. As you come in, please check with staff to see if you can come in - or just take a quick look to see if there are other people already there. Please don’t linger if there are other people waiting. You can ‘pre-shop’ on the website to get an idea of what you might be interested in - that way you can be more efficient on the busier shopping days.

  • We are only having 1 staff member at a time, so please be respectful of their time. They can’t offer hands-on help (we cannot touch your yarn or needles) but we can give advice, time permitting. If you need detailed help, please email us

  • Please use hand sanitizer when you come in, and only touch things you might buy

Our online shop is still open for store pick ups; we have shifted our ‘Free Shipping’ minimum to $75 now that the store has reopened. If you want to pick up your order, we will email you when it is ready. Please come between Noon and 5:30pm on weekdays, and by 4:30pm on weekends.

Twins Sweater Giveaway!
Could the winner please contact us with your mailing address and to confirm which colour of Twins you would like us to send you (the prize is 3 balls of this yarn)!

Thanks to Katia Yarns for donating this prize!

WCW Bingo-A-Long 2020

August Bingo Winner!
Please contact us to collect your prize

WCW Virtual Knit Groups

These are being held on Monday Nights from 7:00pm to around 8:00pm, and on Thursday Mornings from 11:30am to about 1:30pm. Look for the Zoom meeting links in our ravelry
group. Everyone is welcome to join!

Have a great weekend everyone!