I had a request about how to combine lighter weight yarn correctly for bulky & super bulky projects so I decided to film a video and write up this blog post to focus on this topic! In the video I will go over each tip below as well as show you how to Use a Wraps per Inch tool, how to make a Gauge swatch and how to use that gauge swatch to choose your yarn and hook size for a project or combine/substitute Yarn for your Crochet Projects!
1. Use the Same Yarn the Designer used for their Project
This may seem like a no brainer but if it is possible for you to use the same yarn recommended by the designer for the project in question, it really can help ensure that your project comes out as close to the designer’s creation as possible! Different fibers (cotton, wool, acrylic) can work up differently due to the amount of stretch hey have which can cause your project to look different when completed, even if the yarn was the same weight as the one called for in the design! Sometimes using the same yarn is impossible, this may be because you live in a different country and don’t have access to the same yarn brands or maybe the yarn the designer used is discontinued. In this case, keep the following tips in mind!
2. Use a Similar Yarn
This also may sound like too simple an answer but when I say “similar” I mean it in more than one way! The first thing you want to pay attention to is the weight of the yarn – you can find standard yarn weight classifications here. If the designer recommends a super bulky (6) weight yarn, that is the first place to start. If you are shopping in person you can check the back of the label of the yarn to see the weight classification. Once you find the right weight, it is time to look at the fiber content! If the yarn the design recommended is a wool blend, it will help if you find a yarn with some wool content. This is also not always feasible–if you have a wool allergy or do not have access to a lot of options in the weight category you need–you can use a different fiber content like acrylic or cotton. Just keep in mind that it may slightly change the look and drape of the item you are crocheting, especially if it is a wearable item like a cardigan or sweater!
Now, keep in mind that even if a yarn is labeled as a super bulky (6) weight yarn, it may be on the thicker or thinner side of that weight category. If you are worried the yarn will be too thick or too thin, you can also look at the recommended crochet hook size (also listed on the back of the label on most yarns). Check to see what the recommended hook size is on the yarn the designer recommends and then check the recommended hook size on the yarn you are looking to substitute. If the recommended hook size on the designer’s yarn is 8mm, try to find a yarn with a recommended hook size of between 7mm and 9mm! This is especially helpful for designs that call for super bulky and jumbo yarn since jumbo (7) weight yarn can call for anywhere from a 9mm to a 25mm hook!!! It is a HUGE swing!
3. Use a Wraps Per Inch Tool to Determine True Yarn Weight or Identify Mystery Yarn in your Stash
Another way to determine if the super bulky (6) weight yarn you want to use is the same size as the super bulky (6) weight yarn used but he designer is to invest in a Wraps Per Inch (WPI) tool to help you determine the true weight of the yarn!! Check out the video above (I show you ho to use a Wraps Per Inch tool to determine the weight of a few yarn brands) or check out this article by the Craft Yarn Council to learn more about this measurement tool! You can easily bring a Wraps per Inch tool to the craft store with you to compare different yarn options and see if they are similar before deciding on what you’ll purchase. This is not as helpful if you don’t know the WPI measurement of the yarn the designer used BUT if the yarn the designer used is still available in stores and you’re just looking for a different fiber type you could easily compare the two in store!
The Wraps Per Inch measurement is also SUPER helpful if you have yarn in your personal stash that you are thinking about using but it no longer has a label. Checking the Wraps Per Inch can help you determine the weight of the mystery yarn and ensure you choose to use it for the right projects!
Good news, If you are shopping online for yarn, finding the right yarn for your project is becoming much easier. Most yarn companies have websites that allow you to filter yarn options by weight, fiber type and even Wraps per Inch!
4. Make a Gauge Swatch and Go from there!
If you are choosing to crochet a wearable piece like a cardigan or sweater, taking the time to make a gauge swatch can save you from spending hours creating something that doesn’t actually fit the way you thought it would. In the video above I go through exactly how to make a gauge swatch and how to use it to make sure you are using the right size crochet hook for your project. Just because the designer used a 12mm hook, doesn’t mean you will achieve the same outcome with the same size hook… why? we all have different tension when crocheting. Personally, I tend to crochet very tightly so many of the people who test out my patterns end up having to use smaller crochet hooks to get their stitches as tight as mine! For example, one of my cardigans calls for a 15mm hook but a few of my testers had to go all the way down to a 12mm hook to get their stitches as tight as mine! 🤯
Making a gauge swatch will determine if you crochet with a similar tension as the designer or if you will need to use a larger or smaller hook than the designer to get the same outcome! Once you figure out the correct hook to achieve similar tension, you can make a few gauge swatches using different types of yarn or even different combinations of yarn to see if they will work for the project.
Many people find my designs and ant to make them but have never used super bulky (6) weight yarn. They often ask me if they can substitute lighter weight yarn for the project. I usually recommend that they hold multiple strands of yarn together in this case! The rule of thumb (in most cases) for substituting multiple strands of lighter weight yarn held together fro chunkier yarn is as follows:
If holding 2 strand of yarn together:
- 2 strands of Super bulky (6) = Jumbo (7)
- 2 strands of Bulky (5) = Super Bulky (6)
- 2 strands of Worsted (4) = Bulky (5)
- and so on throughout the lighter sizes!
It can get a little trickier when you are trying to hold 3-4 strands of worsted (4) weight yarn together to “create” a super bulky (6) weight yarn, but this is where they true helpfulness of creating gauge swatches comes in! If you watch the video above I actually compare a few different gauge swatches for the same project (one using a thicker super bulky (6) weight yarn, one using a thinner super bulky (6) weight yarn and one using 3 strands of a worsted (4) weight yarn) all of them had their on unique look to them but I believe all of the options would have made a beautiful cardigan!
If you have the correct hook size and choose to use a lighter weight yarn (not held double) you can sometimes get an airier effect as the stitching will not be as tight. Sometimes this can be a very desirable outcome and can turn what would usually be a inter weight cardigan into a nice spring or summer cardigan!
I hope you found this information helpful, once you begin playing around with yarn weights and getting more comfortable with gauge swatches you can really get creative with your projects!!! The sky is the limit!!!
Helpful websites to bookmark:
Where to find/purchase tools Used in this video:
- Gauge measurement tool: https://www.etsy.com/listing/1025367753/crochet-gauge-swatch-tool-crochet-hook
- Wraps per inch tools:
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