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Crochet is basically a handicraft art that makes use of yarn and a hooked needle to create different kinds of fabrics. From scarves and baby booties to rugs and tapestries, it’s often surprising that all you ever need to crochet is just the yarn and the hooked needle. However, not all yarns and needles are the same. They come in different materials, sizes and weight; and the kind of yarn and needle you need to use depends on the project you wish to complete. So, what happens if you’ve found a good pattern but wish to substitute it with another type of yarn? The good news is that nothing is stopping you from doing so, as long as you are mindful about some important considerations.

Different Kinds of Yarn

Before you start exploring how to substitute yarn, it helps to know the different kinds of yarn that are available in the market. Yarns are usually made from different fibers – either natural or synthetic. However, there are also yarns that are blended and they make use of both natural and synthetic fibers to maximize both types’ most notable qualities.

One of the most popular types of yarn used for crocheting is wool. This is a natural fiber made from sheep’s fleece and there are several subtypes of wool that are spun into yarns with different weights and textures. Another type of yarn coming from natural fibers is fleece such as mohair and cashmere. Silk also makes for a very smooth and very light type of yarn, and it is generally combined with other fibers to make it a blended kind. Synthetic fibers are also used to make yarn. Examples of which are nylon, rayon, viscose, polyester and acrylic. The most inexpensive kinds of yarn are ones made of acrylic. This is often the most popular choice made by beginners while they are learning how to crochet.

Depending on the kind of project you want to do, there is an ideal material to use. That’s because certain fibers can affect a fabric’s stretch, drape and appearance. Yet, you don’t have to leave it up to guesswork, as this is usually indicated on the pattern.

Different Weights of Yarn

In crocheting, the weight of the yarn is defined by the number of stitches it can make in a gauge of 4 inches and it shouldn’t be mistaken by how much it actually weighs. A yarn’s weight is usually indicated in the label and generally it is classified from a scale of 0 to 6. Yarn with a weight classification of 0 can make 33 to 40 stitches in a gauge of 4 inches, while yarn with a weight classification of 6 can only make up to 11 stitches in the same size of gauge. This means that the lower the number, the thinner the yarn and the more stitches there will be in a gauge. This also means that you can’t just substitute yarns freely without taking into consideration its weight, as doing so would change the overall look, appearance and form of your project.

How to Substitute Yarn

If the yarn indicated in the pattern is not available in your favorite local crafts store, do you just give up on the project and find another one instead? Or do you explore finding a suitable replacement? As this scenario is likely to happen, you can definitely substitute yarns if you need to. As everyone also has a particular preference on what material to use and what texture you’d like to have, it is not uncommon for crochet enthusiasts to want to use a different kind of yarn in their projects too. Yet, substituting yarns is not as easy as just finding another one you like.

The first thing you need to do is to determine the weight of the yarn needed by the pattern, the number of yards contained in one skein of the yarn and the total ounces or grams required to complete the pattern. When you have all these information, when choosing a substitute yarn, you have to choose the kind that matches these three factors as closely as possible. Take note though that even if the ounces or grams of the pattern yarn matches that of the substitute yarn, if their yardage doesn’t match, you may have to buy more than what was indicated in the pattern. This depends on how thick the yarn is. The thicker the yarn, the lesser the yardage will be in a skein. Therefore, if the substitute yarn you chose is thicker than the yarn indicated in the pattern, you may need to purchase a few extra skeins for it to match the required yardage of the pattern.

One other thing you have to consider when substituting yarn is the gauge. You have to make sure the substitute yarn you want to purchase will be able to recreate the gauge needed by the pattern or else the finished project will not look the way it’s indicated on the pattern. This is especially important when making fitted garments. Keep in mind that the thicker the yarn, the stiffer the fabric created will be. The thinner the yarn, the looser or the more flexible the fabric will be. If the substitute yarn’s thickness varies from that of the one indicated in the pattern, you may have problems with how the garment falls or fits on the body. But if the project is for an afghan or any kind of fabric that is not a fitted garment, matching the gauge is not equally as important.

With thousands of yarns being sold in the market, there will surely be one you can use as a substitute for the yarn required by a certain pattern. Just make sure you are able to take note of all the considerations mentioned above, and you will be all set in finding the substitute yarn you are looking for. In the event that you do encounter drape issues on how the garment falls, do not give up. Just choose another kind of yarn and redo the project. Practice as they say, makes perfect!