A reader, Cheryl, mentioned the website, Yarn Sub. It is a great resource for using a different yarn than what is recommended in a pattern. Here is a sub quest result for Cascade 220, non-superwash worsted weight yarn. Most of you knitters are probably fairly familiar with Cascade 220.
Using yarn substitutions is kinda like learning to cook without exactly following a recipe. Here’s a funny story – I had been cooking for years and years and felt I was a decent cook. When Chad started learning to cook, a recipe for him was, and still is, just too boring. Let’s say he’d grab a pound of ground beef. I would say . . let’s make meatballs or a meatloaf or spaghetti with meat sauce. No! He would open the spice cabinet, decide what spices he wanted to use, then open the pantry, decide what canned goods he wanted to make and the end result would almost always be something delicious but something I had never dreamed of putting together. That was just 10 or so years ago and that’s when I learned that I don’t have to follow a recipe exactly. If it calls for something I don’t have or don’t want to use . . just switch things up. That was very freeing, when I hadn’t even realized before how restrictive it was to follow a recipe exactly. It changed my way of cooking.
Being able to change yarns is just as freeing, but on a different level I suppose.
Knowing that content, weight, and gauge are all going to make huge differences helps determine what yarns substitute well. A very wooly, natural feeling yarn, such as Cascade 220 non-superwash worsted is going to work up very similarly in size but it is not going to feel or hang the same i made in a more “refined” wool – like Malabrigo Rios or Madelinetosh Vintage. Neither will be “right” or “wrong’, it’s just knowing your personal preference.
Not that it matters since I’m not going to buying much yarn but one of the biggest determining factors for me is this – where can I buy this yarn? I have my favorite places, which are few, and I probably should venture out a bit and buy from other places but there’s comfort in familiarity.
Never be afraid to try a different yarn. It’s also fun to switch between weights. If the pattern calls for fingering weight yarn, I’m not afraid to use worsted weight yarn. But – always swatch! Even when using the exact same yarn and exact same needle size as recommended in the pattern . . always swatch!