One thing that every pattern has is a yarn recommendation under supplies. And every single knitter at one time or another has looked at that yarn recommendation and said, “Nope, I’m using another brand.”

But which brand to use if you want the same outcome as the designer?

There aren’t hard and fast rules, but I made a few guidelines for you. Have the pattern handy because you’re going to most of your information from the pattern supplies.

  1. Weight.

    Typically, if the original yarn is listed as bulky, you can start your search looking for other bulky yarns. I say typically because there aren’t exactly industry standards, and yarn companies are free to classify their yarn as they see fit.

  2. Fiber.

    Finding the same fiber content (i.e. 100% wool) as the original yarn is best if you want an exact substitution. If you’re looking for something completely different (i.e. acrylic or cotton), you can still substitute, but keep in mind the drape will differ from the designer’s original project.

  3. Yardage/Meterage.

    Let’s say you’ve found a yarn that seems like it will work, don’t forget to double check the yards/meters to make sure you’re ordering the correct amount of yarn. If the original yarn has 200 yards/skein and your replacement yarn has 150 yards/skein, you’re going to need more than the 2 skeins the pattern calls for.

  4. Gauge Swatch!
    1. If you’re not sure about the yarn you want to purchase, check out what the recommended gauge swatch is on the label. It should be fairly close to the designer’s gauge swatch, also listed on the pattern.
    2. Gauge swatch when you get your new yarn! We’ve come this far, might as well make sure the yarn will work perfectly. You might need to go up or down a needle size.
  5. Resources. 
    1. is a great website. You type in the original yarn and it gives you recommended substitutions. They don’t have every yarn in their database, but they have a lot.
    2. has so much to offer. You can go to the pattern page, and check to see what other yarn people have substituted. You can also search the yarn section or search by fiber content.

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