One of things I love about Crave Yarn Caravan is the beautiful fabric it makes across a wide range of gauges. Although Caravan is a sport-weight yarn, it’s firm twist, allows it to be used for patterns ranging from fingering through sport-weight.
When I'm thinking about substituting a different yarn than the designer used for a pattern I ask myself 5 questions.
- What are the fiber characteristics of the original yarn used in the pattern? If the original yarn and the yarn you’d like to substitute have similar fibers, the resulting fabric is likely to have a similar drape. Sometimes we intentionally substitute a yarn that is very different from the original yarn i.e. blends instead of 100% wool for close to skin comfort, non-wool instead of wool for climate or allergy considerations, etc. This is another case where swatching is essential to evaluate the fabric of the yarn.
- What is the yardage/100g of the original yarn? Caravan has 350 yds/100g. If the original yarn has 300 – 400-ish yds/100g it is likely that Caravan will be a good substitute
- What is the gauge for the pattern and what size needles were used to achieve that gauge? The “typical” gauge range for Caravan is 22-26 st/in on a US3-5 needle. If the pattern gauge is in the range, Caravan can work. (With that said, Caravan can make a great fabric outside of this range. Lisa K Ross designed a great pair of socks in Caravan and using US1 for 28 sts/in. Check out Raspberry Cordial.)
- When I knit a gauge swatch, do I like the fabric? Often, I use a different size needle to achieve the pattern gauge. I always evaluate the resulting swatch – is it too stiff or is it too floppy for the garment design or for my personal taste?
- How much yarn will I need to complete my project after I make the substitution? Most patterns show the total yardage required for the project by size. Divide the total yardage for your size by the skein yardage in the yarn you are substituting, and you will get the new number of skeins required for the project. To substitute Caravan you would divide by 350/100g. Remember to round up if you get a partial skein.
By combining the answers to all these questions, you can determine whether a yarn substitution works for your project.