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Substituition time – how to use our yarn for other projects!

We are frequently asked how our yarn compares to others and how they will knit up using other patterns. There isn’t really a straight forward answer to this one, but we will try give you some guidelines to make it easier to decide what yarn to go for!

Our yarn come in Fine and Medium in ten colours and, in ivory, we also have a Chunky version.
The Fine yarn compares roughly to an American Sports weight which is in between a 4 ply and a DK. Our Medium is more like a Worsted weight and is between a DK and Aran.

Let’s go into a little more detail!

How to get the right tension

It is always important to knit a tension square, but it is absolutely crucial to do your tension square when knitting a pattern with a different yarn than what it was designed for. So when you are using our yarn for a different pattern (or a different yarn for one of our patterns) do make sure you knit a tension square. If you end up with too many stitches or too many rows, it means your tension is too tight and you need to increase your needle size accordingly, and should you end up with too few, you will have to reduce your needle size!

On our yarn labels we have a standard tension for our Medium and our Fine yarn. Medium knits up to 17 sts and 24 rows on 5 mm needles and Fine knits up to 20 sts and 29 rows on 4 mm needles.

How long is a piece of yarn?

When comparing yarn it is important to consider weight vs length. On a yarn label you will often see the length per 50 or 100g ball. Our yarn is 116m per 50 g for the Fine yarn and 77 m per 50 g for our Medium yarn. You can have very different lengths on a 50 g ball depending on how thin the yarn is but also how heavy the fibre is!  If the thickness looks the same and the tension knits up the same but the length of the ball of yarn is much shorter it will be because the yarn is heavier. This means the end result will have a different drape. This might not be a bad thing, but something to keep in mind. You would also have to buy more yarn as one ball would not go as far as one ball of our yarn!

What fibre does your yarn contain?

Purl Alpaca Designs’ yarn comes from British alpacas, some from Tracy’s own animals. We also visit some of the other farms ourselves, meet the animals and select the fleeces that will make our yarn. All our yarn is made from only British alpaca fleeces and are spun into our yarn at the Natural Fibre Company’s mill in Devon. We are very proud of the fact that our yarn is made right here in Great Britain and we will strive to keep it that way. Our yarn will be a little pricier than some of our imported competitors, but like us, we know you value knowing the source of your product and the ethical standards the alpaca owners have.  We’re sure you appreciate that this comes at a premium!

When substituting alpaca yarn for any other fibre it is important to know that alpaca has a fabulous drape and stunning lustre. We spin our yarn using the woollen method, which creates a lofty and lightweight end result whilst still maintaining the drape.

This is by no means a final word on this topic, there are so many things to think about and so many individual things to take into consideration we could probably write a Phd on the subject! But we hope this will give you a good starting point and hopefully a bit more confidence when substituting yarn in the future!

Happy knitting!

Tracy & Kari-Helene xxx

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