What happens when you can’t get hold of the same yarn used in a knitting pattern? Knitting your project with different yarn can be a daunting prospect, especially if you’re trying to make patterns work for yarn from your stash. How do we know if it’ll work out? Thankfully, even without a crystal ball, there are a few great tricks to figure out whether your yarn will work for the pattern you want to knit.
START AT THE BEGINNING.
Look carefully at the yarn used in the pattern and make a note of its weight and blend of fibres.
For example, the original yarn used for Reminisce is a hand-dyed DK-weight yarn; 40% superfine alpaca, 40% merino and 20% silk.
If you want a hat that looks the same as the hat in my photo, you’ll want a yarn that’s a similar weight (look for a DK or light worsted weight yarn), and made up of a fibre or fibres that behave in a similar way to the alpaca, merino & silk blend that I used.
Alpaca is a soft fibre, with some sheen and slight halo, giving it an ethereal and cosy look. It can have a lot of drape when knitted at a looser gauge, but a pure alpaca yarn may droop over time as it’s a heavy yarn compared with wool.
Merino is lightweight, elastic, and very soft, with a nice bounce. It tends to hold its shape and will make the front cable and all-over patterning of Reminisce appear crisp and defined. Pure merino may create more of a “beanie” look, rather than a slouchy-beret shape like the original.
Silk has great sheen and drape and will go a long way to making your hat more luxurious and slouchy. It has reasonable stitch definition, but tends to lie a bit flatter than animal fibres. Bear in mind that silk has little “memory” (it doesn’t bounce back into shape) so a high proportion of silk in a yarn blend will give you a super-slouchy look.
I WANT MY HAT TO LOOK LIKE THE ORIGINAL!
Find a yarn with a higher proportion of merino (or another soft wool fibre such as Blue Faced Leicester or Polwarth). A very high proportion of alpaca or possum, and you could lose stitch definition, and it might get a bit too slouchy. Too much silk and it’ll flop out of shape.
On the other hand, if you use a less-processed, stickier, pure wool your hat could knit up stiffer and it’ll be more likely to look more like a beanie.
TAKE YOUR YARN FOR A SPIN.
Swatching with your new yarn will tell you a lot about how it’ll behave.
- How does it fall?
- is it soft and fluid?
- or, does it sit stiff as a board?
- If you stretch it, does it spring back to shape?
- or, does it ooze out and stay put?
If you want a hat that slouches softly you’ll be looking for a little bit of drape or movement in your swatch. To get more of a slouchy hat and less of a tight beanie feel (but not a super-oozy-sloppy hat), you’ll be looking for just a little bounce in your swatch when you tug at it.
HOW MANY STITCHES PER INCH? HOW MANY ROWS?
If you want a hat that knits up the same size as one of those included in the pattern, you’ll have to make sure your stitches and your rows are the same width and height as the pattern calls for.
You might need to go up or down a needle size to get gauge and if you’re trying out new yarn (even if it’s the same as called for in a pattern) it’s a great idea to knit a gauge swatch.
Don’t force it though. If your swatch stands on it’s own, chances are your yarn is too thick for this hat.
DO I HAVE ENOUGH YARN?
Some fibres are heavier than others so it’s better to find a skein with the same metres or yards as called for in the pattern, rather than find one that weighs the same.
LOOK AT HATS OTHER KNITTERS HAVE MADE.
If you find it hard to imagine how your yarn will knit up, look to see what other knitters have used for their Reminisce hats.
We’re lucky to have a bunch of places to look for inspiration; Facebook, Instagram, and Ravelry are all great places to search. Try searching for “Reminisce hat” to find other projects.
If your a Ravelry member, click on the “projects” link in the tabs at the top of the Ravelry page you’ll find other Reminisce hats in different yarns. Click the tab “yarn ideas” to list yarns that other knitters have already used for their hats.
MAKE YOUR OWN REMINISCE HAT!
You can purchase Reminisce on my website and in my Ravelry shop.
Have fun choosing yarn!