In my last blog post, I shared some thoughts on yarn substitution. I compared Ultra Alpaca to Maya – two yarns that look different but behave similarly. Both have good stitch definition and produce fabrics with a lot of drape, so they’re a great match.
Since I have the luxury of many of different yarns at my disposal, I decided to take this substitution swatch a step further. I knit a swatch with five different yarns that all work up at an identical 5 stitches/1″ gauge. Each yarn is work in the same stitch, for the same number of rows and on the same US 7 needle.
Vintage: 217 yards per hank, yarn fiber: 52% acrylic, 40% wool, 8% nylon
If you’ve never knit with Vintage, you should. I’m not just saying that. This machine washable yarn is lovely; the multi-ply twist creates a bouncy, round yarn with excellent stitch definition and it is softer than you’d imagine. Great for cables and textured patterns but just as lovely in stockinette stitch, Vintage comes in a color palette similar to Ultra Alpaca. If you love the look of any of the Ultra Alpaca patterns but maybe not the Alpaca-halo this yarn is perfect. It’s not really possible for any yarn to be all things to all knitters, but Vintage comes close.
Fuji: 125 yards/hank, yarn fiber: 38% silk, 25% cotton, 22% rayon/viscose, 15% nylon
Fuji is as different from Vintage as it gets – at this gauge the knitting is crisp and airy. Fuji, for me, is the essence of summer knitting. This yarn is subtly tweedy and textured, and it also has a lot character, so consider your substitution choices carefully. I wouldn’t substitute Fuji for Ultra Alpaca or Vintage, but it would be a great alternative to Maya, Weekend or Modern Cotton. The result will have a causal, laid-back sophistication.
Weekend: 205 yards/hank, yarn fiber: 75% acrylic, 25% cotton
Weekend was the surprise for me – I make no secret of the fact that I have never had a lot of love for knitting cotton yarns. I love wearing cotton sweaters, though, so I find a way. Weekend is the answer to this problem for me. This multi-ply, acrylic/cotton blend is machine washable, which is always appreciated, and has a cottony crispness without being tough on the hands. The look of the finished knitting is so polished, it reminds me of ready-to-wear in the best possible way. Weekend is an obvious alternative to Maya or Modern Cotton but, more surprisingly, I think this would be a great substitute for Vintage as well.
Lustra: 193 yards/ball, yarn fiber: 50% Wool, 50% Tencel/lyocell
Lustra is the outlier in this experiment – it is a single ply, draping fabric, which sounds a little bit like a contradiction but it works. The Tencel creates an interesting combination of fuzzy and shiny. This yarn may not seem like an obvious substitute for Fuji or Modern Cotton, but it can turn even the simplest sweater into something a little dressy and very special. The shade card for this yarn is exquisite and sophisticated. So go ahead, use it as an alternative to any of the yarns mentioned in this post.
Modern Cotton: 209 yards/hank, yarn fiber: 60% cotton, 40% rayon/viscose
Modern Cotton is amazing! It’s machine washable, so it is great for babies and kids. It’s also sleek and sophisticated, which works nicely for women’s garments and accessories. This yarn is destined to be a staple of summer knitting. The super soft Pima cotton has a subtle sheen, giving finished projects a polished look. In terms of substitution, it really depends on the project. Modern Cotton is great for projects with lace – it shows textures spectacularly and does stockinette stitch like a boss. The only advice I would give you is to swatch. This cabled swatch in Modern Cotton is a very different fabric than the Vintage (for example); not bad – just different.
So what have I learned? I love these cotton yarns a lot more than I thought I would. I also learned that Lustra is a great way to elevate a casual design. Did any of these substitutions surprise you?
As always, we would love for the yarn we designed with project with to be the best choice for you, but sometimes it isn’t. Your yarn choice is a great way to customize and personalize your knitting.