Things to Consider When Choosing a Different Yarn (Part 1)

Hello everyone! Tara here—

A common problem crocheters run in to is that we have yarn in our stash that we want to use up, but it doesn’t match the yarn that’s recommended for the patterns we really want to make.

That doesn’t mean we can’t use it! It just means that there are a few things we have to keep in mind before starting.

Yarn Bowl filled with different types of yarn
Yarn With Different Weights & Textures

Watch Your Yarn Weight

Yarn weight is incredibly important. There’s a reason the designer recommends a specific weight in the pattern. If a project calls for a DK-weight yarn and you don’t have any on hand, you can use a worsted yarn for projects that don’t require a lot of shaping. Just remember that the project will be different.

The yarn is thicker so the project will be larger than the designer planned. It works out well if you want a chunky, oversized scarf or blanket, but making a hat or fitted garment and trying to stick to the pattern exactly as written isn’t going to work out well because the size will be completely off!

Like scarves and blankets, shawls can be a really great project to use different yarn weights on. The Shells by the Sea Wrap  by Andee Graves was made with a DK-weight cotton blend, but it would look just as incredible in a worsted-weight wool like Berroco Vintage, which is one of our favorite yarns!

Lacy and Solid Shell Stitch Wrap Shawl
Shells by the Sea Wrap

On the other side, if a project calls for bulky yarn and you only have DK-weight yarn, your project will be much smaller and lighter. If you want a skinnier scarf for the spring season or a smaller shawl, then you should be fine.

The Tree Trimming Scarf by Rena V. Stevens was made to be big so you could use a thinner yarn and still have a scarf that will fit nicely.

Green scarf with purple and gray detailing
Tree Trimming Scarf

The pattern calls for a worsted yarn, but you can easily substitute it for something thinner like Premier Basix DK yarn. You can try using shades like tan, sand, and topaz to give the scarf a beach-y feel now that it’s lighter!

Using a thinner yarn than the designer recommends will not work for fitted projects. It’s important to check the size of projects like afghans before you start too. If the project is on the smaller side to begin with, using a thinner yarn may leave you with a very small throw or lapghan.

Think About Your Hook

Every yarn comes with a recommended hook size, but patterns don’t always follow that. If you’re switching the yarn weight of a pattern, you’ll have to switch the size hook you use.

Clover Hook Set
Different Hook Sizes

Different hook sizes with the different yarn weights will give you drastically different projects. Don’t be surprised if you have to make a few swatches to make sure you’re using the right hook to get the fabric you’re looking for!

If a pattern is using a worsted weight yarn with a smaller than recommended hook, the stitches are going to be tight and the fabric will be more stiff than usual. The smaller the hook, the tighter the stitches will be. When you’re making your project, you’ll want to use a smaller than recommended hook with whatever yarn you’re using too so the stitches in your project are tight like the stitches in the pattern.

If the pattern calls for a larger hook than recommended, then the project will have more movement to it, a better drape and there will be more squish to the fabric. You’ll want to match that by using a larger than recommended hook in your project, too.

Check out our Stitch Guide to see which hooks are usually recommended for each yarn weight.

There are still other factors to consider when using a yarn that’s not what is recommended by the designer, but these two are the first things you should consider.

What yarn do you always reach for?

– Tara Orchard, Editor of Crochet! Magazine


Need more yarn? Check out Annie’s Craft Store and see the incredible yarns we have available!

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