Posted by: GourmetGirl | October 9, 2012

A Saturday’s Yarn Shop Activity

I was at my local yarn shop (LYS) on Saturday and it was hussle-bussle full of activity. People looking for yarn and a new knitting friend met that seems to love the complicated stitch work that I do. 🙂

I love it when I meet an advanced knitter that knows she has more years of learning about knitting. That is refreshing.

We happened to be talking (yarn and patterns, of course) when another knitter that was looking for a yarn to substitute for another in a pattern came to our attention. I was asked by the shop owner to help her with yarn size and substitution.

Substituting a yarn that is not what the pattern was designed with is perplexing to many, many knitters.

When I first started writing patterns, I would only give the weight of the yarn. IE: 1285 yards Worsted Weight Yarn. I did that so no one would feel they could not find a substitute yarn to knit the pattern. Now I put below the materials needed *sample shown in Cascade 220.

I am amazed at how many knitters cannot substitute one yarn for another. If it says worsted weight and it is worked in wool, they cannot imagine knitting the sweater in a worsted weight cotton…..

In this case it was finding a sport weight yarn. A sock weight fingerling or a DK weight yarn can easily be substituted. Why, you ask? Because with most yarn companies there is very little difference when moving up and down in yarn weight. One company’s DK weight can be rated Sport with another company.

With all this confusion to a knitter, it is no wonder that yarn substitution is scary!

It all comes down to gauge. Yes, that dreaded mystery to most of the knitting world.

You are not alone. Even the woman I was asked to help seemed to be at a bit of a loss, in spite of of the statement “I have been knitting for 53 years.” I could see the doubt on her face as I tried to explain gauge……..(It can be touchy when trying to help a knitter that has been knitting for years.)

Knit 3 swatches with 3 different needles sizes and the same gauge can be the end result for all three swatches. Why? Because when you wash the swatch – yes, wash your swatch – and then pat the swatch flat, you are able to make the swatch smaller or larger. Some yarn will even grow amazingly large!

After the woman left – without her substitute yarn in hand – my new knitting friend and I continued to talk about her dilemma, and bantered other solutions back and forth. There was more to this poor woman’s confusion – she was also trying to figure out how many yards to buy. Not only did the pattern only give the number of skeins (not yardage), the pattern was fair-isle and she wanted to use only one color.

We felt pain at her leaving without resolution. My moral to this story is: you are never too experienced to learn something new in knitting – and that is what keeps me going!

Happy Knitting, Nancy

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