Basket of yarn

Tuesday Crochet Tip: Yarn Selection

You’ve found a pattern you are excited about, and you are ready to get started as soon as possible. But you don’t have the yarn the pattern calls for. A visit to the store proves to be equally frustrating as they don’t carry the yarn the pattern calls for either. Can you substitute something else?

This is a common dilemma that I run into when I set out to start a new crochet pattern. I imagine it happens to all of us from time to time. Over the years I have learned a few things about yarn selection and I will share a few tips today.

Colorful yarn for knitting in green basket on wooden table on window backgroundThe Ideal Yarn

The ideal yarn to use for any pattern is the yarn the designer suggests in the directions. Designers take many aspects into consideration when selecting a yarn. Body, drape, texture, sheen, durability, stretch, thickness, etc. Each of these aspects of the yarn has an impact on the overall project. Some yarns have a wonderful drape and make a great medium for a garment or soft baby blanket. Other yarns are stiff and have tremendous body when crocheted and are a better choice for items you want to have structure, like a crocheted basket or a heavy tote. Switching to a yarn other than the one the designer recommends could affect some of these aspects of the project.

Size is another consideration. Every brand of yarn has its own unique thickness, and even minor variations can mean a difference of inches in the overall dimensions of a finished project. If you are crocheting a garment, you may need precise dimensions to get a good fit.

But there are times you simply cannot obtain the yarn needed, like when a yarn has been discontinued. When that situation arises, here is what I do.

Size: First of all, find a yarn that is that same size. All yarns are assigned a general size category. For example, most normal Red Heart yarn falls into the size 4 category. All yarns in a particular category are going to be close to the same size—not exact, but nearly.


Content: Within that category, look for a yarn that has similar contents in its makeup. For example, if your pattern calls for a yarn with 50% wool, 50% cotton, look for a yarn that contains the same materials in equal quantities. Rayon, polyester, alpaca, and acrylic—they all have different texture, body, and drape. Choosing something of similar content will help to create an end-product that is similar to the designers.

Gauge: Once you’ve selected a yarn you feel might work, take the time to crochet a gauge if size is going to be a factor in your project. Many patterns that are intended to result in very specific sizes or dimension in the end product will include a gauge in the pattern. A gauge usually consists of crocheting a certain number of rows or a smaller sample of the pattern and measuring the results. If your gauge does not match, you will be able to adjust your yarn or hook to obtain a better fit.

I hope these tips will help you to select the perfect yarn for your next project. Until next time, I wish you Happy Crocheting!