Bang Out a Sweater: Yarn Switcheroo

By Ann Shayne
January 28, 2020
Field Guide No. 12 is all about the joy of knitting big

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  • Excited to see how this knits up. And also just thought – perhaps a cropped cardigan?

    • Yes! I love your thought! I really want someone to make a cropped cardigan, so I can see how it looks! And figure out how to do it! I also like the yarn sub idea for a cropped cardigan

  • But isn’t the Studio Chunky going to be heavier because it’s got more yards per ounce than the Rowan, not less? Yikes, tell me I’m wrong because I thought I understood grist.

    • I paused, too Elyse. Here’s what I’m thinking now: Ann will get more knitting done with a comparable weight of yarn. With Big Wool she’ll go 24.85 yards with an ounce, but with Karida’s yarn she’ll go 31.25 yards. The whole project will take less yardage with Studio Chunky. I’m hoping Ann will weigh in!

      • Patti, the yardage will remain the same, if you are getting gauge. If a sweater calls for 1000 yards of yarn, you will use 1000 yards.The weight is what is changing, you will have a lighter sweater if you use a yarn that has more yardage for the same unit weight.

    • More yardage for less weight will mean a lighter sweater. Let’s simplify this to the point of silliness. One yarn is 100 yards for 100 gm and another is 500 yards for 100 gm.You need 1000 yards for the sweater.

      This means a yarn A (Rowan) sweater weighs 1 kilo/1000 gm. A yarn B (Studio Chunky) sweater weighs 200 gm, i.e.a 5th as much, 80% less, MUCH lighter.

      In this case the difference is only 20%, with Studio Chunky having 20% more yardage per oz, but applying the same logic, a Studio Chunky sweater is 20% lighter. Now if Ann made the sweater with KidSilk Haze, it would be truly ultra light! LOL. Hope this helps.

      • Deepa, thank you for this! I’m still getting my coffee situation set. Your example says it more clearly that I could.

        The key in my project is that my sweater will use the same number of yards as the original pattern—I know this because I got gauge. So if a yard of Studio Chunky weighs less than a yard of Big Wool, then the final Studio Chunky sweater will likewise weigh less than a sweater of Big Wool.

  • Loving these articles on yarn substitution and grist. For me, understanding grist is like finding the missing puzzle piece while appealing to my inner geek. I’m surprised that you got gauge with a 20% discrepancy between yarn grist and implications for sweater density and drape. There has to be a relationship between grist and gauge beyond the individual wiggle room we all have as knitters. Is there a percentage range for comparing grist to safely guide yarn substitution when purchasing – you know before you break the ball band and attempt to get comparable gauge?

    • I was surprised to get gauge, too—Studio Chunky just seems so much thinner than Big Wool. The fabric is quite different, not a cushy blanket sort of fabric.

      I’m still new to the concept of grist–let me pass your question to someone who knows a lot about it.

      • Again, maybe oversimplifying (and let’s be clear, I am no Jillian)…for me gauge is about needle size, not yarn. Using my KidSilk Haze example above, you could get gauge for Main Squeeze with it and the right needles, but it would be a pretty terrible sweater in terms of fabric.

        I think Studio Chunky is close enough to Big Wool though, so I will be following avidly, Ann!

      • It seems to me that the superwash issue comes up here. If you have more space between stitches (same gauge, less weight) then there is more room for drape. I would have wanted to wet block it and then hang it some, to see if it would stretch during wearing. My pet peeve about superwash yarns! OTOH, if you wanted some drape this might be a good way to get it.

        Boy that red is gorgeous!

  • I found a full bag of Lambs Pride Bulky in the way-back section of my stash from an abandoned project a long time ago. Score! (I don’t know exactly how long it’s been there, but the price tag is approximately half the current price, so a long time.) I knit and blocked a big swatch. Conclusion: the gauge is right on for a Main Squeeze. It’s not super soft but should be perfect for an outerwear/coat kind of cardi. Thanks for reminding me about the grist formula—I’m going to do the math to make sure it won’t weigh too much to be comfortable.

    • Hi Susan! I love Lambs Pride Bulky–it’s on the fluffier side, the way Big Wool is. (As opposed to this ropelike Studio Chunky.) And it will wear like iron, which is great. Keep us posted on how it goes!

      • As it turns out I didn’t even have to do the math because when I checked the label it’s the same as Studio Chunky: 125 yards per skein ÷ 4 ounces = 31.25 yards per ounce.
        I just have to get my current project off the needles in the next three days…

  • So…does this mean that a Louisiana girl who loves the idea of a quick knit but fears making a heavy sweater she’ll only get to wear one day a year might have more luck (and chances to wear!) with the lighter Studio Chunky? I’ll be right here waiting for you to say “Yes, cast on!”

    • Hi Dee! It’s still a chunky yarn, for sure–here in Nashville, I’ll probably crank up the AC to wear it a lot. If you really don’t think you’ll have much chance to wear it, I’d go with another pattern.

      I knit for the process and the experiments, so I don’t ever worry too much about what I’m going to do with what I knit.

  • I’m so excited to Bang Out A Sweater with y’all for the first time!!

  • Hmm, looks good! I’ll be curious to know whether the superwash fibres allow the final garment to drop in length.

  • Make the red sweater, Ann. Bolton Hill all the way!

  • Not sure what you’re saying about the 10” here?

    “The swatch is still 12″ x 19″ after wet blocking and letting it dry. The gauge: I got 10 stitches to 4″ with Studio Chunky. The Main Squeeze sweater calls for 10″.

    I see that your stitch gauge is spot on; is that true of your row gauge, too?

    I love seeing you experiment!

    • Yes, this confused me too!

  • Good idea to include a behind-the-scenes photo of Kermit at work, testing how comfortable each yarn is!

    • I look forward to every cameo by Kermit.

  • I found this site: a few years back and although not every yarn is listed I like using it first for substituting.
    Do they have basic math classes for adults who can master an iPhone but somehow fail at division and percentages?

    • Khan Academy! If you need any kind of math review, it’s on there and free. And other subjects, too.

  • Thank you for teaching me about “grist” and I have never thought of making a huge gauge swatch for checking the drape of the fabric. The beauty of knitting is the learning because it never ends.

  • Hi Ann, personally I don’t think you have a dilemma, because we all know what a productive knitter you are after seeing your Kaffe blanket. So knowing that Kay banged out a full size main squeeze in a week you should easily be able to complete three different variants of the sweater in a month, one with each colour of yarn. So then your only dilemma would be which variant with which colour – long, cropped, jumper, cardi?? I’m hoping to attempt knitting for the first time since I chopped my finger tomorrow. And if it works I’m very tempted to buy the field guide, use stash yarn, ditch the Christmas presents I couldn’t finish yet and bang out a main squeeze with you!

    • Dont chop your finger tomorrow.

  • ohhhh nooooo I thought I could resist. But I feel myself weakening. That gold! wow.

  • Not knitting a sweater for myself again! Used lion brand wool ease, measured, pinned, etc. To a tee. Sewed it up. But it grew so much it could fit jackie Gleason! Younger ones, go look it up. Why does a sweater grow?!

    • Did you wash and block your swatch?

  • I’m subbing Àlafosslopi on my Main Squeeze. It’s a bulky, not super bulky. I asked Jillian Moreno about this sub and she said, “Lopi is the mack mama of gauge shifting yarns” so I guess that means go for it! It too is a lighter yarn grist wise

    • What Jillian says, we do. Can’t wait to see this!

  • I love this discussion! I’m substituting the sweater but not the yarn. First knitalong. Excited.

  • I’m going to use Quince Puffin, a batch I bought from a fellow Raveler. Super bulky, perhaps less fluffy than Big Wool. I knit a swatch on size 15s and got 11 st = 4″. I like the fabric and I can’t find my #17s to swatch with them. I haven’t washed the swatch, perhaps that will save me from the math I would currently have to do. Puffin has 112 yards per 100 grams to Big Wool’s 87 yards. I need to ponder grist.

    • I love these experiments in substitution. Learning a lot.

  • I am spinning my own yarn for this sweater, so your article will be very helpful… once I finish the spinning.

    • How wonderful. Wishing you great fluffitude in your spinning!

  • So pretty!! Are you omitting the ribbing at the bottom of the body?

    • I am! The sand stitch pattern is so cool, and it doesn’t need ribbing to sit flat. This is going to end up Minimalist Main Squeeze!

      • Can’t wait to see it!

  • “Rope” is not a particularly attractive word when applied to wool for a knitted garment, or anything except…rope… I’d imagine.

    • Aw Mary Lynne, it’s beautiful to me! When it’s merino wool, beautifully spun with six plies, it’s actually really lovely. I just finished my Main Squeeze sweater and the effect is perfectly crisp stitch definition and an airiness that makes the chunky yarn less bulky and heavy. Everybody’s got their own perspective, I guess.

      • As soft as it is, I can never look at this yarn without thinking “rope.” In a good way. Or we wouldn’t carry it. But hey that’s just me, I love unattractive words.

  • This is so helpful! My big question is does this yarn pill? I LOVE this sweater but I hate pilling and when looking at all the comments on different yarns people have used for this sweater this is the number one issue with all of them. What are you finding with this yarn?