Subbing Yarn- Fibers Matter
My previous Yarn Subbing post dealt with yarn weights and how to double or triple your yarn to match weight. This post will deal with another aspect, picking the right fiber. Once you have the weight squared away you need to be sure that you are swapping the right fiber to compliment your project. To do this you need to keep in mind three rules: Drape, Texture and Style.
Drape: When substituting one fiber for another it is necessary to consider the drape of the recommend yarn and the drape of your yarn. Is the recommended yarn (RY) light and airy or thick and stout? Does it clingy or fall straight. If it is a light mohair or silk blend, you want to stick with other yarns that will mimic their draping tendencies like light alpaca or angora. If your RY is thick ply cotton and you want to change it up to wool for warmth, pick wool with poly blend for density. You can judge a yarn somewhat by sight or use Ravelry to see other projects made from your chosen yarn. If it looks light and fuzzy, sleek and clingy or, tight and stout, stick with other yarns that share these draping characteristics.
Texture: Will your project feature loads of texture- neat cables or stunning bobbles- then choose a yarn that will let these features stand out. If your project will be all about color and less texture, then feel free to go with a novelty or lofty yarn (Think Ribbon or Mohair). Try to balance your texture with your yarn, the more textural detail you have going on the more toned down your yarn should be. The less texture going on, the opposite: go crazy with your yarn choice.
Style: You want to match the style of your pattern with your yarn. If you are making a really luxe looking car coat, you don't want a cheap looking yarn. If you are just whipping up a t-shirt, you don't need cashmere (unless you REALLY want it). The same goes for everything in between. Match your personal style to your yarn choice as well. If you aren't going to wear camel colored cashmere, don't get it because it is recommended or will sub well. Branch out a little but stay in your comfort zone. You know what you like and stick with it. I am not a mohair person, though I really want to be. I know deep down in my heart I am not and am not likely to wear it so I don't buy it or use it. If a pattern calls for it, I reach for baby alpaca, cashmere or llama instead. All have the delightful softness and fuzziness but I enjoy them so much better than mohair. Subbing is worth the work to find the right fiber for you!