collaborations, helps, patterns

Changing Yarn for A Cardigan

Do you love changing yarns? Do you sometimes nail it and other times grumble? Let’s chat for a minute! Give me 10 minutes and your full attention and I may be able to help! 

Changing yarn happens for lots of reasons. The original yarn may no longer be available. Perhaps it is difficult to source. The fiber content may not suit you. You may have a stash that rivals the Local Yarn Shoppe’s inventory!

Whatever the reason substituting yarn happens all the time! I want to share how I swap yarn successfully. To frame that last statement in the best way, Boy! Have I learned LOADS from my mistakes! I want to share swapping yarns specifically with Ikaika, my newest pattern to release. It is available now as a single pattern purchase as well as for free when you purchase the kit from Infinite Twist.

  1. Understand the Original Yarn
    • What properties does the intended yarn showcase? Fiber content? Drape? Incredible stitch definition?
    • Are there things that make this specific yarn requirement unique? New on trend colour? New yarn components for easy care or climate control? Yarns are always changing and companies striving to improve them, so dig a bit and see if this yarn has something interesting to unearth!

Below is an excerpt from Cate’s quick post on virtues of holding the yarn double, which hit on some great points I considered with Ikaika and the heart of point number one. Start reading and then click the link to finish the rest of the post.

“If you’re wondering why a sane knitter would choose to double the amount of yardage they’re using on a project, there are a number of good reasons. Holding the yarns this way changes the resulting knitted fabric (for the better, in my opinion), blends colors, and speeds up your project. It’s also a great way to test-drive a fine yarn with reduced commitment.”  HEAD HERE FOR THE REST OF CATE’S INSIGHT!

So now you can see a few reasons Helix held double for me worked. I did try it held single…smaller needles, more knitting, longer time commitment…The overall feel of this sweater was supposed to be a satisfying fun knit that you could start one week and hopefully wear the following weekend!

So for this experiment I asked one of my test knitters to knit Ikaika for you, You the knitter who may want to substitute yarn from stash! I really dug in to my available stash and found some of my coveted ByAnnieClaire yarn in the colour that suited Michelle and we worked together on the substitution.


Here is a bit about the yarn straight from ByAnnieClaire’s site :

Farm : Full Belly Farm, CA.
Fiber : 100% organic wool, 2ply
Yarn : Fully Belly Feel Good : Worsted weight : 250 yds : 4 oz
Naturally dyed using : Scotch Broom

“A mix of organically raised Rambouillet, Lincoln, Suffolk, and Merino sheep wander the pastures of Full Belly Farm. Whilst they are known more so for their wonderful array of fruits and vegetables, Full Belly Farm raise their sheep to help maintain the pastures and grasses as well as providing the fleeces which produce an amazingly real yarn. The yarn is washed and spun at Green Mountain Spinnery in Vermont where care is taken that all processes are done organically.

I do not use plant extracts, I harvest the plant and steep it, and so each dye lot can be quite different. Please make sure that you purchase enough for your project!
I came to my organic, naturally dyed yarns out of the desire to become more connected with the yarn I take so much time knitting with, and hope to make this connection available for others too.”

I had LOVED working with Helix and have used it enough to know its properties. This yarn was a great match based on what interaction I had with both before…which brings me to step two.

2. If possible, substitute a yarn you have some knowledge of already.

I had been a vegan for quite some time but embraced a vegetarian lifestyle when marrying. (I promise this has EVERYTHING to do with the last point!) Our first Thanksgiving Dinner about 20 years ago was material for a sitcom. I was in charge of the turkey…My Man had 86ed the idea of a Tofurkey…so off I went.

This was my first Thanksgiving dinner as hostess (Yup! Over the river and through the subdivision to Mel’s house), my first as a wife, my first cooking meat! There were a few other dishes I was going to try out as firsts for this dinner. Rutabaga was the only unaltered, unadjusted dish I was making. It turned out perfect and was such a source of calm in a crazy storm!

To wrap up my disastrous dinner in a short take away nugget: When cooking a turkey, do not add citrus and apples and onions in to the cavity of the poor bird unless you remove whatever stupid things the manufactures placed in first. Take away nugget two: If you usually eat turkey, don’t put the girl who never will in charge of the centerpiece of the meal unsupervised. Yeah, I will tell you the whole story another time…

But the BIG PICTURE from that: Don’t do everything new all at once. Unfamiliar pattern knit in unfamiliar yarn that you want to substituting more unfamiliar yarn for may just add to confusion!

So, I give you a possible solution and bullet number 3:

3. Learn from someone who has done it before.

In this example, Michelle and I worked together. Here are her take away thoughts:


Aloha Mel,

Here are my thoughts on the Ikaika.
This was such an enjoyable knit from the moment I cast on to the moment I was finished. The way the pattern is written, from the lace portions to the decrease sections, it kept me wanting more of this sweater. It definitely was a fun knit. The pattern makes you want to knit one more row to see how the lace portion moves across the back panel.
The pattern, even though it has lace portions in it, it becomes a comfort knit; one does not have to look at the pattern the whole time to complete certain sections.
 Mel was very generous enough to gift me by Annie Claire yarn, which the colourway is Horsetail, which I thought was very fitting to this design, because the inspiration for Mel was from a horse back home in Hawaii.
I knit it with size US 9 knitting needles, circulars, even for the sleeves. The yarn created a dense fabric, and yet the drape is very nice, not too stiff. The cardigan is very cosy against my skin and I actually plan on wearing it for Thanksgiving. I also think this sweater could be dressed up or down. Wear it with a dress, or jeans and a t-shirt.
The Ikaika was very enjoyable that I definitely would like to knit it again.
All the best,

Behind that summary were loads of messages, texts, chats where I checked in to make sure it was all going well.
It was! Which makes me feel awesome!
I designed a sweater in the best yarn for the design as I see it. I of course strongly encourage you to knit it in that (especially since the kit has so many free treats in them! One knitter tweeted me that she couldn’t believe all the awesome things included!)
But now I feel confident to encourage you to knit it anyway! Grab some stash yarn that seems to be a great match for Helix or the ByAnnieClaire yarn (which is why I put the specs to her yarn above).
I wish you success in knitting new things in new ways!
Much Aloha,


5 thoughts on “Changing Yarn for A Cardigan

  1. I LOVE LOVE LOVE this pattern but NEVER knit seamed items. Deathly afraid of seams. Mine always come out ugly/bulky/unfit to wear!

    Do you have any pointers, tutorials, whatever on how to make this process more enjoyable and result in a finished sweater that deserves the beautiful pattern and yarns it’s made with?

    Thank you!


  2. michelleowls says:

    This was such a joy to knit. This was my first seamed sweater and I am not sure about other seamed sweater patterns, but this one was easy to seam up. It’s awesome to see me on your blog too. Thanks for letting me test knit this.


  3. Pingback: Sunshine in Stitches | WITH∞MEL

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