When & How to Substitute Yarns

 We again welcome our guest blogger, Jill Holbrook to help you learn how to substitute a yarn called for in a pattern with a Cotton Clouds’ yarn.

Jill’s love of lace knitting will inspire you to give it a try with our versatile and oh, so soft and silky Bambu 7  yarns.

My adopted “boys” on a trip to Maine.

Have you ever seen a pattern that called for a yarn you could not find? Maybe you just happened to have something in your stash and wanted to use that instead.  It can be tricky substituting different yarns – especially if the yarn is a different fiber. Knowing about the fiber and its characteristics – how it drapes, if it has body – can help make decisions on when and how to substitute yarns.

Rose Shawl*

     This lovely shawl is from Margaret Stove’s book Wrapped in Lace: Knitted Heirloom Designs from Around the World.

Wrapped in Lace will inspire

The pattern calls for Moco Quiviut Merino Silk Lace yarn. The shawl is light (approximately 2 ounces) and airy in this yarn as it is lace weight and contains a light-weight down fiber similar to cashmere.  It is knit with US size 6 (4mm) knitting needles at a gauge of 20 stitches and 34 rows over 4 inches in garter stitch. The pattern calls for 2 skeins of yarn at 300 yds each.

However I wanted to try Cotton Clouds’  soft and silky Bambu 7  yarn on mini cones instead.

Cotton Clouds’ Bambu 7 is soft & silky

Bambu 7  is approximately twice the weight of the lace weight yarn called for in the pattern. Bamboo is generally denser than wool depending on how it is spun and plied. Also Bambu 7  does not have the elasticity or memory of wool. However, it has great drape. This shawl would have more weight in a bamboo yarn but the drape and silky effect is worth it.

The yardage in one Bambu 7  Mini Cone  is close to what the pattern calls for – 525 yards versus 600 yards.  One mini-cone is probably enough but knitters vary in their gauges. I always buy extra yarn so I don’t have any anxiety about running out. Usually I can find something else to do with the left over yarn – maybe a scarf.  Bambu 7 is affordable enough to purchase extra, compared to other yarns.

Shawl Swatch in Bambu 7 yarn

I knit this swatch with one needle size smaller, a US size 5 (3.5mm) for more body. My gauge is close to the pattern gauge. The nice thing about shawls is that gauge is not as important. The shawl may turn out a little smaller – a shawlette – or a little bigger – a cozier wrap.

My swatch after finishing looks like a go!

Because of the lack of elasticity in the Bambu 7 yarn, the lace will stay open so it does not need blocking.  It does not change much after wet finishing, i.e. soaking and laying out. I love how it  maintains its luster and sumptuous softness. 

Just imagine, if you start now this could be a treasured gift for someone special at Christmas or maybe something special for you to wear to a Holiday party!  Too ambitious? Try one of the gorgeous lace scarves in this book, Wrapped in Lace: Knitted Heirloom Designs from Around the World.

Fiber Trends pattern knit by Jill Holbrook
I knit this lace shawl for my niece Sheley as a wedding gift. Although knit with a wool/silk blend I can see this pattern being knit with Cotton Clouds’ Bambu 12 yarn, a finer and eve more drapable yarn.  I would probably adjust the ruffle.    
Whatever you choose to knit, have fun and explore your creativity with joy!  Be sure to check back as I continue to explore knitting with Cotton Clouds’ yarns!
Jill Holbrook

*Rose Shawl photo by Joe Hancock, © Interweave Press 2010,  used with permission of publisher.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. pamela says:

    Where can I get that cat shaped gauge? I’ve looked at kiwiknitting.com, but the website is not mobile friendly

    1. I don’t know where that is available. Sorry

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