On Yarn Selection and Substitution
Yarn substitution was a hot topic on social media in 2020. The discussion was prompted by the release of a sweater pattern from a popular designer, featuring multiple colours of an expensive yarn. The total yarn cost to make the sweater, even in the smallest sizes, added up to hundreds of dollars US.
Some folks pointed out – reasonably – that this was beyond the budget of many. Even in a normal year, it would be a lot of money, but in mid-2020, even fewer crafters than usual had that kind of disposable income.
A pattern featuring expensive yarn can certainly seem to be inaccessible. A crafter might feel that they can’t make the project, because they can’t afford the yarn. Some crafters might feel that we, as an industry, must consider affordability, financial accessibility.
Other folks in the social media discussion offered solutions. It was suggested that patterns should show samples worked with more than one yarn choice, or not list any specific yarn at all, leaving it open to the crafter to make their own choice. Other crafters asked that designers use less expensive materials for their designs.
Kate Atherley (she/her) is a co-founder, editor and publisher at Digits & Threads and Nine Ten Publications. She has worked in the crafts industry in one way or another since 2002 as a designer, editor, writer, and instructor. She’s authored eight books about knitting, from a next-steps guide for newbie knitters to the industry’s only guide to professional knitting pattern writing. Kate lives in Toronto, Ontario, with her husband.