Knitting season is in full swing and along with planning which patterns we'd like to work on, we're all having all sorts of fun choosing our yarn! Whether you're online shopping or visiting your LYS it's one of the most exciting parts of the project. As we all know though, a sweater's quantity of yarn can often come with a hefty price tag and can make that exciting new pattern feel like a huge investment. For today's post, I thought it would be interesting to take a look at some more sustainable approaches to yarn shopping to make that new pattern feel a little more accessible!
For our European Yarn series, we have explored some amazing yarn producers creating beautiful and sustainable yarns. We realise though that you can't always find these yarns at your LYS and often have to order online which can include costly shipping options. Firstly, check to see if the yarn company you would like to order from has a stockist in your country. Our yarn partners will often list physical and online stores that carry their yarn all over the world that may make a more sensible option for ordering. If not, how about reaching out to other local knitters who may be interested in ordering from the same place. Maybe others in your knitting group would love to try that yarn as well! By placing an order together you not only reduce the shipping cost by sharing it (or possibly even eliminating it all together if you qualify for free shipping!) but help to reduce the carbon foot and packaging waste created by shipping transportation. This is a similar idea to our Shipping Pods!
Stash Diving Instead of Buying
We've all be guilty of this, I know I have! We've built up quite a collection of yarn in our stash, yet when the time comes to cast on our new project we get excited and order new yarn. If one of the reasons is you don't feel confident using a different yarn to the one suggested in the pattern then there are two rules for choosing wisely!
Weight: Rather than simply matching a DK to a DK or a Worsted to a Worsted, try to compare yardage instead. This gives you a much more accurate idea if the yarn you would like to use is similar to the suggested yarn. If your new yarn is within 20 yards of the suggested yarn then you are good to go! Any more or less then you may find it trickier to get gauge. Always swatch
Fibre content: If the fibre content in your substituted yarn is very different from the fibre of the suggested yarn it's good to bear in mind that your finished project will probably differ to the sample pictured. For example, if the suggested yarn is a woollen spun 100% wool yarn the finished fabric will be pretty light and lofty, whereas if you substitute with an alpaca/silk blend the outcome will be very drapey. Both give very different looks to a finished object.
As you try different yarns your confidence will build and you'll start to get a good sense for what will work and what won't. If you would like to get even more tips on substituting yarns we have an amazing article in JEWELS from Katie Green of Blacker Yarns. You can read a little excerpt of it here!
Once you've got the hand of substituting yarn you can always advance to yarn recycling! Second-hand stores can be an amazing source for yarn with a small price tag by finding old wool sweaters and unravelling them. This can feel pretty daunting but there are some fantastic tutorials out there to help you spot the difference between a yarn jackpot and a future pile of unusable knots. This post by Dawn Prickett gives us a mine of information from finding the right sweater right through to getting out all of those kinks. It's such a lovely image, taking an unwanted item and breathing new life into it by transforming it into a new, loved piece.
Do you have any tips of your own for yarn shopping you would like to share with us?! Let us know in the comments below!
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