So here we are, at the very beginning of the Supersize Crochet Blog Hop!! Exciting, isn’t it? I cannot wait to see what all the Mega-star crochet bloggers make of my new book. And so, it seems a fitting start to begin the Blog Hop with a post all about chunky yarn…
Ahhhh, chunky yarn, you are my most favouritist yarn in all my stash – Easy to work with (cos you can see the stitches), quick to create with (I can make a blanket in a few hours) and fun to play with (try grappling with a 40mm hook and some giant yarn, and you’ll understand). BUT (and it’s a big but) how can you tell the difference between chunky, super-chunky, and XL and how can you find yarn alternatives?
Fear not, it’s all rather easy once you know how.
First, let’s talk about weight, which simply means how thick or thin your yarn is.
Most usefully for knitters and crocheters, there is a standardisation for describing yarn weight, set out by the Craft Yarn Council, which covers all yarns from lace-weight right up to a new category, Jumbo-weight:
Now, the most important row, in trying to understand how my yarn fits into these categories, is the bottom one – which hook size to use. This is the easiest way to compare and understand yarn weight, especially for the big yarns we’re interested in.
Let’s consider t-shirt yarn. I use it for a lot of my projects because it’s great to work with and affordable. But where would it fit in this table? Well, thinking about hook size, I’d use anything from a 10mm to a 15mm – so according to the table, it fits into the ‘Super-Bulky’ category. And what about the giant yarns I’ve also used? They use anything from a 25mm to a 40mm hook and so fit rightly into the new ‘Jumbo’ category.
Ok. So far, so good – I know how to put my yarn into a category.
But what if the yarn I want to use is out of stock, or discontinued? How do I go about substituting a super-chunky yarn?
Firstly, let me draw your attention to a brilliant website http://yarnsub.com, which will compare yarns and find substitutes, too. You simply type the name of the yarn into the search box and bingo! – the site does the rest for you.
However, it’s easy to work out substitutes for yourself – you just need to look at the yarn labels and compare two* vital elements:
- the suggested hook size
- the total length of yarn per 100g
*It’s also worth considering fibre content (what the yarn’s made of) and gauge (the number of stitches and rows per inch) – but for now I’m going to keep it simple.
Let’s run a few scenarios:
Supposing you are trying to substitute Schoeller und Stahl Semira for the Zig Zag Blanket. The yarn recommends a 10 – 12mm hook and the length is 75m per 100g. – A quick search reveals that Wendy Serenity Super Chunky or Rowan Big Wool would be good alternatives, as they both recommend a 10mm hook / 80m per 100g. This would result in a similar-sized blanket to the original.
What about the Storage Pouch? This yarn is already discontinued (*sigh* – a designer’s nightmare when writing a book) and it recommended a 9mm hook / 50m per 100g.
The closest match available would be DMC Natura XL, with a recommended hook size of 8mm / 75m per 100g. It will work perfectly, but as the yarn is not quite the same weight, it will result in a slightly smaller version of the pouch.
NB I would also try T-shirt yarn for the pouch – I think it would work rather well – you’d need to keep to a similar sized hook as suggested in the project to create nice, dense stitches, otherwise, it might all get a bit floppy.
Working with two strands together
If you can’t find an exact match for the project yarn, then there is one more option – considering working with two strands of yarn held together. In fact, several of the projects in the book use this method, as it’s a quick and easy way to create jumbo yarn.
To make a substitution, you’ll need to find a yarn with around half the meterage per 100g.
Let’s look at the Slippers project, which uses Drops Polaris (12mm hook /36m per 100g). A good alternative could be Patons Big Fab – with around 68m per 100g, it would be around 34m per 100g once doubled up and would provide a similar finished size to the original.
And don’t stop with just two strands of yarn – some of the projects in the book call for Giant Yarn – these are the biggest, most enormous yarns you can get hold of and are sold by specialist suppliers, but you could make your own by experimenting with 5, 6 or 10 strands held together (I’m thinking that something like Stylecraft Special XL would work particularly well here)
I hope that you’ve enjoyed reading this post – working with big yarns is great fun and really easy, too. I can’t wait to see what the other bloggers have been up to…
Enjoy the blog hop,