How to Know When to Switch Yarn Types
Have you ever come across a super cute pattern and you can’t wait to make it, but you want to use a different type of yarn? When it comes to amigurumi, switching out yarn types is pretty common and usually totally fine. However, not every substitution will work out the way you think. And that’s why we’re going to talk about how to know when to switch yarn types.
How to Know When to Switch Yarn Types
When I talk about switching yarns, I mean substituting the recommended yarn for a different kind. For example, if a pattern suggests using a worsted weight like Red Heart Super Saver and you want to use a thinner yarn like Lion Brand Mandala.
Unlike garments, you don’t really need to worry about gauge with amigurumi, but there are other factors to take into consideration such as the complexity of the design and the style.
The easiest way to explain this is to look at some examples.
As a general rule of thumb, simple designs look much better in chunkier yarns like velvet or blanket yarn while complex designs look better in thinner yarns like DK or worsted weights.
The reason for this is because of the yarn itself. Chunky, fluffy yarn hides textures and complex stitches, but makes simple shapes look super cuddly. Similarly, thinner weight yarns show everything, meaning you can get in a lot more detail.
Let’s look at an example:
A while back I did a pattern test of Dana the Dino for Eden of The Hive Felting and while she used bulky weight velvet yarn, I chose to do my project in a worsted weight yarn (Red Heart Super Saver Ombre). Now I’m not saying that I think my dino looks bad, BUT it doesn’t look as cute or cuddly as the original. The stitches and seams are too defined and it takes away from the overall look.
On the flip side of this, here’s an example where the original was made in worsted weight and the next was made with chunky yarn:
With my Prym the Peacock pattern, I designed the tail the way I did because the worsted weight yarn is stiff enough on it’s own to stay upright. When one of my testers wanted to make Prym in blanket yarn, I was curious to see how it would come out. I think the result is super cute, BUT one of the big downsides is that the tail is much too heavy to stand up on it’s own.
Blanket yarn just can’t achieve the same stiffness without inner supports like wire or tubing.
Plus, some of the detailing, like the Feather Stitch on Prym’s back is a bit lost in the fluffiness.
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Style, Size & Why They Matter
So we’ve looked at some examples of simple and complex designs and why the original yarns worked better. But that’s not the only factor to consider when picking your yarn. We also have to take style and size into account.
What do I mean by style?
In this case, when I say style, I’m talking about the aesthetic you’re going for. Do you want your ami to be squishy or sturdy? Are you going for a cute, cartoon-y look or a refined, realistic look? After answering these questions, choose your yarn accordingly:
Chunky/Fluffy yarn = cute, cuddly, cartoon-y
Thinner yarn = detailed, refined, realistic
NOTE: This doesn’t mean you can’t do realistic, complex amigurumi in chunky yarn. It’ll just be harder and you may have to alter whatever pattern you’re using. Similarly, you can make cute, simple amigurumi with thinner yarn.
Ultimately, if you get a pattern and you want your project to look exactly like (or close to) the designer’s, I recommend using the same (or similar) yarn to them. They’ve already proven that the design looks amazing in that yarn.
But if you’re feeling adventurous, you can always try out different yarns to see what works and what doesn’t to get the effect you’re going for.
Let’s talk size…
Whenever you sub out the suggested yarn in a pattern, you’re likely to change the size of the final result. Thinner yarn means using a smaller hook, which ends with a smaller amigurumi. Bulkier yarn means using a larger hook, which ends with a bigger amigurumi. Here’s an example:
The original Sir Duckington is significantly smaller than the blanket yarn version. Basically, when you’re prepping to start your project, decide how big you want the end result to be and choose your yarn accordingly.
If you want to dive more into using chunky yarn for your amigurumi, check out this article: Quick Guide to Big and Chunky Amigurumi.
Exceptions to the Rule
Some amigurumi patterns look amazing in all kinds of yarns! Take a look at the Floral Friend pattern by Jamy of Jamy.Lyn.Art.
I had the pleasure of testing this pattern and Jamy was happy to let me experiment with various yarns. The original pattern calls for blanket yarn (the white and pink one), but it also looks amazing in velvet (blue, green, and purple one) and in DK weight yarn (smallest one).
The reason this pattern looks so great in different yarns is because there’s a good mix of complex parts and simple shapes. The construction is easy and there’s minimal sewing.
When it comes down to it, you’re in charge and you can use whatever yarns you like for your project. However, by taking into account what style you’re going for and your own preferences, you can avoid making a project that’s ‘meh’ when it could be amazing!
If you liked this article be sure to Pin it for later and share it! Do you like switching up yarns or do you like to use the recommended yarns? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts!
1 thought on “How to Know When to Switch Yarn Types”
this is great to know, thank you!