Substituting Yarn - Part 1: The Why

***This is Part 1 of a 2 Part Series for "The How" Click Here***

I recently started a project that had me thinking about substituting yarns. The project is the Cropped Cardigan by Robin Melanson (#9) from Vogue Knitting Spring/Summer 2010. The yarn called for in the pattern is Louisa Harding La Salute, a mohair, nylon blend (25g/115 yards). The cost of this project if I used La Salute would have been $64. I looked on Webs and was able to find a similar yarn at less than half of the cost of the original. I chose for this project Classic Elite’s Giselle, a mohair, nylon, wool blend (50g/230 yards). My project total was $27.20. After receiving the yarn I knit a gauge swatch and am happy to report that this yarn is working beautifully for this pattern.

After looking at finished projects of this same cardigan on ravelry I came across a delightful version that took a left turn from the original. Without any of the fuzzy halo of mohair, the clear stitch definition Andrea Rangel* achieved using MadelineTosh Sock, a 100% merino yarn, is stunning. I contacted her to ask about her yarn substitution.

Photo courtesy of Andrea Rangel Knits

WORLDKNITS: What made you decide to use MadelineTosh Sock for this project?

ANDREA RANGEL: I wanted that sweater. Bad. I love lace and intricate, sweet little things, so it was perfect. I looked in my stash and saw that gold MadelineTosh sock yarn & realized that I really wanted a gold lace cardigan. I love lace worked at a loose gauge and I’m not too worried about things being too small for me, so I worked up a swatch on bigger needles and got gauge.

WORLDKNITS: Were you worried how it would turn out?

ANDREA RANGEL: When I blocked the sweater, it stretched out WAY long, and I thought it might even end up too big, which was really surprising. But God bless wool; when it dried and I put it on, it scrunched right back up, but now with that incredible blocked-lace drape and it fit perfectly.

WORLDKNITS: Did you have to rework the math in the pattern to get it to work or did you change needle size to get gauge?

ANDREA RANGEL: I did no math. I’m a designer, so when I follow a pattern, I’m willing to swatch and block my swatch and measure gauge. Beyond that, I want them to do everything for me. Knitting from a pattern is a vacation for me. So yes, I changed needle size & it worked perfectly.

WORLDKNITS: Thanks Andrea for your thoughtful responses.

We substitute yarns for different reasons, the color, the cost, stash busting, the appearance of the finished project. Later this week I’ll share with you how to successfully substitute yarns to get the look you want at the right price.

*Andrea Rangel is a knitting designer and teacher out of Seattle, Washington. Check out her website where you can view her patterns, read about what’s on her needles and check out her class schedule.

Read Part 2.

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