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How to - Adapt Knitting Patterns for Different Yarn Weights

We sometimes get questions about how easy it would be to adapt a knitting pattern to different yarn weights, and this is something that I do all the time. It’s not possible with every pattern, but it is with most, it can just take a bit of trial and error to get the cast-on stitch count right.

I’ve been meaning to find time for ages now, to make myself a Blyth hat & mittens set, so I thought this might be a nice one to try, and to write about the tricky bits - this knitting pattern uses the great technique of “thrumming”, adding small pieces of roving or feltable wool, at regular intervals throughout your knitting.

Our pattern is worked in DK or Aran, and the hat sizes are quite generous, to allow for some additional bulk with the back of the thrums making a fleecy lining. However I thought I’d play around with the pattern a little, and see what happened if used a chunkier yarn.

I had lots of odd balls of 4ply off white - all different dye lots, so I thought I’d try 4 strands together, on 6mm needles, and see what happened. My first challenge - figuring out the number of stitches to cast on. After quite a few false starts, I settled on the same number of stitches as given in the pattern for the smallest child size, but worked to all the lengths of medium adult.

I’m not a huge fan of working with chunky yarn, but I must admit I enjoyed how quickly the hat and mittens worked up. I finished the set, but I wasn’t really happy that they still seemed very big to me, even in such a small stitch count.

So I went back to the drawing board, reduced the stitch count even more, and had another go. This time I’m much happier with it. The mittens feel quite bulky still, but once those thrums felt up a bit, there won’t be such thickness to the fabric. I still feel though, that the mittens pattern doesn’t adapt as well to a yarn change, as you’re already working on quite a small number of stitches, so it’s tricky to get the definition in the thumb and fingertip shaping.

Now for the finishing touches - a massive pompom, and of course, a string to join the mittens together to thread though my coat sleeves!

So just to sum up, if you’d like to give the pattern a try but use chunky yarn, I think it works well with the hat, not so well with the mittens. You may need to play around with your cast-on stitch count to get the right fit, but a good start point is to calculate approx. 2/3 of the stitches you would have cast on for DK, and then work to all the same lengths for the size you should be working.

If you’d like to give the Blyth pattern a try, you’ll find it just here. Please let me know how you get on, and if you need any help.

If you do try out this technique, be sure to tag us on social media @little.fig.handmade ! We'd love to see what you create!

- Michelle


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