how I substitute yarn into my knitting projects

If you’re new to knitting or you’re coming back to knitting then you  might be wondering how to substitute yarn for a knitting pattern. You might pick up an American pattern or find one on ravelry and they recommend a particular yarn but the cost or availability isn’t working for you. Well it’s time to substitute. Now in the early days I’d get out my Bendigo shade card  or go to the knitting shop with pattern in one hand looking at balls of wool. Or ask a friendly shop assistant for some help. These days I go to the stash which has definitely grown from those early days.

And the easiest thing you can do and if you’re online this will be easy is to go to Ravelry. You will see along the top the word ‘patterns’. So you’re going to click on it, then you’re going to type in the pattern you want to make. Let’s say we’re going to make Grannys Favourite by Tikki so I type in the pattern name.

And then along the top we see Yarn Ideas…this will tell you what yarns people have used for the project

and if you click on where it says how many times it has been used it will bring up the projects with that yarn. Too easy.

You can also work the other way and let’s say you have a particular yarn and you don’t know what to make with it so instead of selecting patterns you’re going to select Yarns from the top row and then type in the yarn, then you can see projects that people have made with it and narrow it down to baby, child, cardigan or whatever you have in mind.

I’m making this sweet baby blanket in the first photo above. Instead of using the worsted cotton from the US that is recommended, I’m using Bendigo 12 ply – Rustic in Spruce which is a gorgeous turquoise/teal colour and Luxury in Aran. The blanket will be super warm and a fraction of the price of the recommended yarn.

And just a warning this photo may offend some readers………………baby playing with brand new balls of wool…….I was so worried about putting my camera out of his reach, turned my back and he was straight into it. But not for long.

Any tips you want to share with my readers or perhaps you need some help substituting for a particular project? Hit me with it………………


  1. Thanks corrie helpfull as always. Those colours are beautiful. Knitting weather in tas at moment only 8.

  2. That was really good information Corrie.

  3. Cant wait to see the blanket finished I love that pattern

  4. Thanks for that info. As a beginner knitter I often look at a pattern & wonder what wool I could use instead of the one mentioned. This is going to be a very useful tip :)

  5. I always wonder what to substitute when it is an American pattern and says to use worsted weight yarn. I’d love to get a lovely pattern for baby booties (like the ones that look like mary janes etc) to crochet but don’t know what wool I should use in Australian terms. What do you think?

    • oh yes such good questions Libby!
      worsted is a 10 ply generally so you could use a Bendigo Woollen Mills 10 ply in Classic or luxury
      so a pattern like this would be great in one of those wools or another great wool which is a thick 8ply is Debbie bliss cotton dk and you could make these shoes with the cotton dk and a 4.5mm hook
      let me know how you get on.
      the other nice one to use is Debbie bliss cashmerino aran which you can pick up easily and substitute it for a worsted.
      hope that helps:)

      • Thanks heaps Corrie! I’m loving Bendigo’s Yarns at the moment (and just got a large parcel ready to make a single sized blanket for my daught – yikes!) and I also have a look where I can get some Debbie Bliss cotton too. Have put that pattern into my Ravelry library so I can remember it when I’m ready to have a go.
        Thanks for your help.

  6. Great info! Now I NEED some Rustic in Spruce, it’s going to be a beautiful blanket :O)

  7. Marylou says:

    I love your site came across it last week. You inspire me. Thanks for the info on the knitting. I am still learning to knit. Do you have the pattern for this blanket?

  8. Really handy tips about wool substitutes, I usually just go and bug Mum she seems to know these things somehow! I’m going to check ravelry next time and see if I can figure it out myself.

    • you can totally do it! love how can you bug your mum though, that’s kind of nice and she probably likes it:) :)
      happy knitting

  9. Fab post thanks Corrie. That teal wool is the most gorgeous colour. Can you point me in the right direction to buy some please? I’m thinking shawl . . . need to branch away from beanies at some point right?!?

  10. Hi Corrie – thanks for the link to the blanket you are going to be making.

    Do you think it would be a difficult pattern to follow for a novice knitter? I was thinking of handmaking something for a friend who is about to have a new baby. I was going to crochet a blanket but I love the look of this?

    Also – do you have any places you recommend purchasing the Bendigo wool from?Love the look of that rustic. I’m thinking Aran border with a grey middle …….

  11. Marylou says:

    Hi Corrie sorry to bother you. I tried to get the pattern but I couldn’t do you have to purchase the book to get the pattern? Hope your sunday is going well.

  12. Marylou says:

    It’s ok Corrie I just ordered the book. No more babies for me but now my nephews wife’s are having babies so I can knit for them. Not a great knitter but I want to try. Thanks for the inspiration. Love that you have 5 children I came from a family of 5.

    • oh lovely, enjoy the book! I think it’s nice to knit for other people’s babies too

      how lovely you came from a family of 5, I do love having 5, would go 6 if I could but 5 is keeping me busy:)

  13. ok Me again!
    What size needles will I need for using the bendigo 12 ply? Do i need circular ones?
    I am just trying to organise all my supplies so that as soon as the book arrives I am good to go. I am on a deadline with my friend due for her little one very soon. Thanks again Corrie x

    • hi there
      for this pattern I’m using 5.5mm needles but go a 6mm needle for both the blue and the white. The 5.5 is a little tighter than the 6mm will be and yes go a circular at least 60cm

      you will love this pattern

  14. Justine says:

    That was informative Corrie, I didn’t realise you could do all those things on Ravelry! Love the blanket and the colours you’ve chosen are gorgeous too :)

  15. Vanessa Mackay says:

    How is this knitting going? Love Bendigo wool!

  16. Thank you I finally found what yarn I could substitute for Debbie Bliss. Now I can knit the hat for my granddaughter. :)

  17. I have some lovely 8 ply wool but the only really nice vest pattern I have found is in 12 ply. Do you think if I knit a larger size it might work?

  18. I am hoping you can help me with size adjustments. I have a wonderful knitting book that is only for 4 and 6 ply yarn. I have loads of 8ply yarn. How do I adjust my sizes accordingly so that I can use 8ply yarn on a 6 ply pattern?


  19. Thank you so much for this post, I’m so glad I stumbled upon it!!!
    I’m forever trying to figure out alternate yarn options. You have made my day :-)

  20. I have a beautiful book of baby and child knitting patterns the bulk of which are for 6 ply yarn which is no longer available. Can i substitute a baby 8 ply yarn?If so what needles will i use? Many thanks.

    • 6 ply! I hadn’t heard of that before. 5 ply is still available (sports weight) like debbie bliss cashmerino, patons totem 5 ply, bendigo woollen mills classic 5 ply. A fine 8 ply would also work and do a little gauge square but you could use a 3.75mm needle. With Bendigo’s 8 ply cotton it’s fine and I like to use a smaller needle anyway. All is not lost. Are you on ravelry?

  21. Yes i am but I very rarely use it. The book is probably about 25 years old it’s an Australian knitting book I have attached a file showing but it actually is 6 ply

  22. Myrna Hawkett says:

    Hi I have just found your site. I have a pattern for a mans jumper. The book came with the latest Better Homes. The wool is Patons Chainette Aire. Could you suggest the equivalent for my favourite Bendigo wool. Bendigo is the wool I have the most of and love using it.

  23. Ibtissam Salloum says:

    I like a boys jumper but it’s knitted in cotton and I would like to knit it in a more durable wool but I don’t know what I need to use ply, change in any part of the pattern etc

  24. Hi,
    I’m struggling to find a substitute for Colinette One Zero, a super-bulky wool (according to Ravelry). I tried typing the pattern into Ravelry, as you suggested but nothing came up – do you know any yarns I could use instead?

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