How to Substitute Yarn for Patterns

How to Substitute Yarn
How to Substitute Yarn
How to Substitute Yarn

Learn How to Substitute Yarn

We are constantly bombarded with two questions. They are as follows:

  1. I have a size afghan in mind, how much yarn will I need?
  2. I have a pattern but not the yarn and want to substitute, how much yarn will I need?

Both of these two questions have two completely different answers. Let’s talk about each. My goal for this article is to show you how to substitute your yarn when you know certain facts about your goals.

Afghan Sizes and Yardage: Question 1

To be very blunt, we cannot ever directly answer this question because of the hundreds of brands that exist out in the market. If we all used the same brand and hook size, figuring out this would be easy. However, you can do some things to help you find the answer but it’s up to you to do some quick research.

  • Go to free patterns online and find something similar you want to work on. Go look at the skein counts in the afghans to give you some ideas for quantities.

What changes the skein counts are the stitches. Some stitches require more yarn per stitch than others. This can significantly change a skein count. Most times, especially when you are improvising, you won’t have a concrete number but you should have buffer yarn available to you in the event you use more than you expected.

General Typical Yardage

In afghans that are approximately 45″ x 55″, you generally will use about 2550 yards. In Bernat Super Value, which is typical worsted weight 4 yarn, you will use approximately 6 skeins. I would bank on 7 skeins to be safe.

Granny Square Afghans that are about 45″ x 55″ using approximately 6 colours and have about 56 squares will use about 6 skeins as well at about 2550 yards.

The thickness of the yarn, size of hook and more can change these numbers in a heartbeat.

Changing Yarn Colour Counts

People will often ask us, “I don’t want to use 6 colours as the pattern asked for, I want to use 5 colours instead. How much yarn will I need of the 5  colours to make it to the right size?”

I’ll be frank, we will not know that. Most times in typical afghans, the colours are not used equally. Sometimes one colour is more dominant. In granny squares, one colour is only used in the middle of a granny square, the colours that are further out from the centre of the granny square will use more yardage per round. So it means the granny square isn’t using the colours in equal proportions.

There’s no magic answer for this without doing a sample to give the answer. Crocheters will have to rely on gut instinct.

Substitution of Yarn: When Pattern is Known

I have prepared a graphic for you to be able to figure this out. We are bombarded with this question and this is how we figure it out. If you have a calculator or even access to the internet to get a calculator you are all set to figure this out.Substitute Yarn PDF

Figuring out the Original Total Yardage

  1. Look at the pattern and find the skein counts.
  2. Take the Skein Counts and Multiply by the Yards on 1 Skein of the prescribed yarn.
  3. You now have total yardage per colour.

Figuring out the Yardage of the Substitute Yarn

  1. Look at the ball band or go to the manufacturer’s website to find the yardage of one skein of the yarn you want to use.
  2. Take the yardage of each colour in the original ball and divide it by the new yardage of the ball you are substituting to.
  3. This will give you a number that is like 2.2 balls. You have to round up to the next full number to be safe. So in this case, the answer is 3 balls.

Just keep in mind, when substituting yarn, the yarn substitutions should be close to the same weight or classification to be somewhat accurate.

You can have a copy of this information, Click Here to Download / Print.

Get More Information
Get More Information

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  1. Kelly Magill

    Your calculations are assuming that the person can get gauge. Calculations should be done based on a sample motif and yardages used in that. Using only your method gives a false total if they can’t get gauge and more than likely will leave them short.
    Rule of thumb ALWAYS buy an extra ball at least.

  2. Wow! Thanks for this. I have often wondered how to figure up the yardage for different yarns. This is going to be a life saver. I am most definitely bookmarking this page.

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