Substituting Yarn for the Turoa Mitts from Drop Dead Easy Knitting and a Giveaway.

In my ongoing attempt to knit all of the book’s projects, Turuoa Mitts, Abide Shawl and the Oxbo socks are hands-down the winners for frequency so far.

Turoa mitts gale

The Turoa mitts are simple to make, look complicated, take very little yarn, and people love them. One of my knitting students is on her fourth pair, plus an additional mate for the daughter who lost a mitt.

The book project used Fibre Company Road to China Light.  A lovely yarn, but not carried in my LYS. Azula Oasis, alas, is discontinued due to production issue.  A big part of the concept of Drop Dead Easy  is that you can find a yarn at your LYS that will work for every project.  The book has a list of substitute yarns in the back, and although I haven’t used any of the recommended subs for the mitts so far, I have used two yarns that I especially enjoyed using, West Yorkshire Spinners BFL DK, and Brooklyn Tweed Loft.

One of these yarns is listed as a DK, and one a sport. Can I use either one? Here’s my test for checking how that might work out when trying to sub yarn.  Warning – this a quick and dirty check.  You still need to make a gauge swatch!

Take a length of each yarn, and compare.  Then loop and twist together.  Run your fingers along the length of the twist.  Do they feel similar, or does one feel much heavier? The bulky vs. the super bulky test.  The bulky yarn looks thinner, but not by much.  When twisted, especially as you feel it, it is more obviously lighter.


The gauge for the Turoa Mitts is 24 sts over 4 inches.  The Loft for sure works to that gauge, and I made a pair with one skein.  I shortened the mitts by a couple of repeats, just to make sure I would have enough yarn.  They are still plenty long enough.

Turoa Loft

In fact, I had enough of the yarn left that I could use it as a pop of brightness in the Sidekick Hat I made in Loft.

Sidekick Small Loft copy

Here’s a side by side view of the Fleece BFL and Loft:


I can’t find (or didn’t take) a photo of the twist test, but they seemed fairly close, so I cast on and started.  When testing gauge on a small project like this, I just start.  There are few enough stitches to cast on that it makes sense to just move ahead with the mitt.  You get a true reading of the size, and if it isn’t right, you have no more to rip out than a generous gauge swatch.

Finished mitts in the BFL:

bfl mitts

You may notice that they are two different sizes.  I shall pretend that I did it on purpose, so that yarn shop visitors (these are currently at Double Ewe) can see what size works for them.  The reality is I forgot what size I was making, so one is a small and one is a medium.

Go see what your LYS has to offer, or shop your stash.  I’m eyeing a skein of Pediboo, now called Hikoo Sueño, for a January birthday.

Want a skein of Loft to try yourself?  Tell me what scares you about subbing yarn, or share tips on how you check when you start to think about subbing.  I’ll draw a name and send the Loft your way!



45 responses to “Substituting Yarn for the Turoa Mitts from Drop Dead Easy Knitting and a Giveaway.

  1. Those mitts are really beautiful. Man – now you’re making me want to knit those instead of the projects I should be finishing up! With regard to substitution, what I tend to do is to look for a yarn of a similar weight to yardage ratio; I also, on small projects, just cast on and see what happens. However, if I absolutely fall in love with a yarn that is of a significantly different gauge, what I tend to do is to swatch to make sure I like the fabric, then look at the stitches per in to see how many stitches I need to get the size I want, and work with the pattern size that’s the closest to that number of stitches. Not sure if that makes sense told briefly, but there it is 🙂

  2. Your knitting is so beautiful! It’s making me want to get my needles out again and start a project. 🙂

  3. Since I’m a fairly new knitter — and a rule follower— I tend to stick with the suggested yarn. (I drove to the other side of the metro — Stillwater— to find Quince & Co. Sparrow for your Kiawah V-neck!). However, I have substituted different yarns for a simple hat pattern with wonderful results! It’s fun to experiment on a smaller project because one can learn so much from it.

  4. Very timely post, and beautiful mitts. I had forgotten about this pattern, and had been looking for a pattern to make mitts for my 93-year-old mother. Pattern found — in your book, which already lives next to my “knitting chair.”

  5. I have a lot of knitting books/patterns that I like to dip into. Ditto a stash that’s been marinating for up to 30 years. Lately I’ve been trying to shop the stash to reduce it to non-embarrassing size and find therein the perfect yarn for a beloved pattern. When the pattern calls for a yarn discontinued decades ago–and doesn’t include info on the yardage–I spend the whole project worrying I’ll run out of yarn within inches of being done. I’ve been known to bind off in a “close-colored” imposter in order to get it done.

  6. What scares me about subbing is that the yarn I choose won’t have the same fluidity, or drape, as the suggested yarn. (I’ve had projects come out stiffer than what I’d hoped, even though my subbed yarn gave me the correct gauge.) I’d love to try making these mitts out of yarn you’ve already subbed! Thanks for the chance…

  7. Mmmm I’d love a skein of loft 😁 i love stitch definition. I’m always afraid that ill loose the stitch definition if i sub the yarn…as a general rule i knit a new pattern the first time in the suggested yarn then i will get brave enough to sub a yarn that will behave the way i want it. Those mitts are lovey 😁

  8. I use a lot of handspun. It’s just knitting so I really have no fears. For smaller projects like mittens and hats, I usually just start knitting and see how it looks and fits.

  9. Thank you for this illuminating post. I sub yarn a lot, slightly willy nilly. I really love watching the different ways subbing yarn affects the pattern. Sometimes I’m pleased, sometimes less pleased, but it’s always *interesting*.

    New mitts are on my short list, as I currently have none. Once I finish up a pair of Oxbo socks (a gift from *last* year!) I’m looking forward to trying out the Turoa mittts. 🙂

  10. Speaking of gauge swatch, I knitted a gauge in every needle from US-3 to US-10 last night and still couldn’t get gauge for a hat I wanted to knit! Thanks for the great giveaway, I would love to win a skein of the Loft.

  11. I love sub-ing yarn. I worry most about drape and fit. It’s easier to sub on an accessory.

  12. Thanks for the giveaway opportunity! For a long time I have been reluctant to use anything but the recommended yarn. But in an effort to knit down my stash, I’m trying to do more yarn subbing! I often check Ravelry to see what other yarns people have used for a project, and how it’s turned out for them.

  13. Love those mitts! I not only make a swatch to check gauge, but take note of the make up of the yarn used by the designer. I have found bamboo and alpaca make for a drapey fabric and may not be the best choices when subbing. I try to come as close to the suggested yarn as possible.

  14. Living on the other side of the world, we cannot get a lot of the yarns that are specified in a pattern. The choice then is to order them on the internet and postage makes that prohibitive. Subbing yarns then becomes a necessity. I usually look for a local yarn that is the same thickness, look at the needle size recommendations and the gauge specifications and if they match the pattern requirements I am hopeful that I have found a yarn to match the original yarn chosen.

  15. I don’t get scared I just go for it! It can always be re worked if it doesn’t look good, life’s too short to worry about what ifs , go for it!

  16. Elizabeth Anderson

    Oh, what a lovely giveaway! I tend to just go for similar-ish weight and then do a gauge swatch to see if I can get the pattern gauge and be happy with the fabric (neither too dense nor too loose). I’ll also pay attention to pattern note, like if a drapey yarn is required, or a more robust yarn, etc.

  17. LOVE this idea for checking out different yarns to substitute – thank you for sharing!
    I usually just go on revelry and see what other people used for a specific pattern lol
    Thanks for the giveaway opportunity!

  18. I’m in love with these mitts! They are so perfect for staying cozy in the harsh winter. My biggest fear is not having the correct needles when subbing yarn even a minor change can completely mess with gauge.

  19. I sub yarns like crazy. I rarely use the yarn specified in a pattern. I look for similar yardage/gms and texture to the original yarn. I am currently knitting a shawl and carrying 2”two strands to get the correct weight. And I’m thrilled with how it is turning out. ☺️

  20. I’m afraid I won’t get the correct gauge, but knitting a gauge swatch will let me know if I’ll have a problem. I love these mitts and have the book. They are on my to do list 🙂

  21. I’m the type that might just panic and never pick up the project again; maybe that’s why I prefer using color-changing yarns lately lolol. What? Poor choice of sub, you say? Nooo, I’m just making a creative, artistic decision.

    My only rule would be not to mix wools with non-wools, so I don’t mistakenly stick a piece in the dryer!!

  22. I often substitute yarn, but it always makes me nervous. I usually just be sure to check Ravelry to see what they list the weight of each yarn as. Your tip is a great one!

  23. Do a lot of stranded colorwork and have been doing some deep stash diving recently. So lots of small balls of unmarked disparate yarns. This twist trick will be very helpful to me.
    My usual method is eyeballing te yarn for size and bulk and then adjusting needle size and sometimes using a double strand. Sometime I swatch, and I do a lot of ripping back. The twist trick seem a good addition to my methods and looks quick.

  24. I want to get more comfortable subbing yarn. I’m afraid if I don’t have the right weight yarn, the pattern won’t come out the same with a different weight. Sometimes I find a pattern I love but don’t have the right weight yarn for it. I don’t always have the funds avail to go buy the correct weight yarn for the pattern, I would prefer to use something in my stash. Thanks for the tips. I look forward to reading the comments as well.

  25. I usually just go for it, and can figure it out pretty quickly. Most of my knitting is accessories, so it doesn’t have to be as exact as a sweater. If I like the fabric I’m getting, all is well!

  26. Beautiful yarn!! I am very nervous if substituting yarn when knitting a garment.

  27. I usually check wpi if I can find a number from the original yarn. Being a spinner, I am very comfortable subbing “close enough” yarns.

  28. I don’t worry too much about subbing with smaller items as long as the gauge is within reason. The item will always fit someone if it does not knit to the size I was aiming for. I would hesitate to sub yarn on a sweater where the drape is of importance and the time invested is large.

  29. I substitute almost universally, and generally do not do an adequate swatch. I also have a lot of projects that end up in the naughty corner. Those two statements are possibly related to each other.

  30. I’m scared of nothing!! Haha I already have knit two whole sweaters and had to frog because they were too small or weirdly shaped for my body, and life goes on! Just more knitting! Thank you for the tips and advice.

  31. I don’t stress too much when I’m substituting for shawls or cowls, but when it’s a sweater I’m more careful! I have a copy of your book and can’t wait to get started on the project So! So many possibilities…

  32. I usually worry if the yarn I substitute will give the same effect. Will it have the same halo or soft look? Will the finished item look good in the color I chose?

    I made the sidekick hat out of Tuku Wool Sock and Yorkshire Medley Wendsleydale. It turned out fabulously. That was a big substitution Tuku sock is a heavier gauge than regular sock yarn and the Yorkshire Medley was called a DK but is really a light Sport weight. I took a chance and I love the outcome!

  33. Yarn subbing is always a scary thing. But, your test trick is one I had not heard of before! Thank you for that little tidbit of wonderful information!

  34. What I don’t like about subbing in a different yarn is when the finished item’s size has changed. Hopefully I’ll make better choices now that I have another tool from you to use.

  35. I am a serial yarn subber. There is no lys in my city and so I depend on my stash to see me through. Mostly I jump in with both feet. It’s just knitting after all.

  36. Oh my gosh I would love some loft! Thanks for the chance ❤️ I will admit I usually randomly sub out yarn and hope for the best 🤦‍♀️ But I’m nervous every time that something won’t fit or if it is a different fiber it won’t stretch or block correctly.

  37. I’m not too bad at getting a fabric I like in the size I want (at least for small projects), but I always worry that I’m going to run out of yarn.

  38. Kitten With A Whiplash

    Lots and lots of math if the gauges don’t match just right. Of course I swatch – but we know what liars those little buggers are.

  39. I don’t like swatching for some reason, but really it’s the best way to find out if a yarn substitution will work — that or, certainly, starting a mitt, as the swatch should certainly be on the large size to judge drape and such. I’ve also started “swatching” with the sleeve of a pullover, which makes the time investment even more worthwhile!

  40. I always enjoy your posts.

  41. Pingback: Wooly Links: December + January 2018 | WithWool

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