Since releasing Fauxtarsia Wave I’ve had a few questions about yarn substitution: would other yarns work in this design? What kind of yarns would work best? What about yarns with more contrast? How about a variegated + a solid or semi-solid? While the short answers are “Absolutely!” and the ever-relevant “Swatch and see!” I really want to encourage knitters to experiment with this design, so I did a bit of swatching myself to show some of the possibilities.
In all of my patterns, I include some information about the yarn used and tips for substitution. From Fauxtarsia Wave:
About the yarns: Shibui Cima is a high twist, laceweight yarn in superbaby alpaca and fine merino wool. Cima’s fibre content gives this yarn a lovely softness and drape, while its high twist keeps the alpaca from shedding or forming too much of a halo. The high twist and the 30% superfine merino also give the fabric some memory, so it won’t lose its shape. This yarn’s matte appearance contrasts nicely with Lunar’s sheen.
Shibui Lunar is a laceweight yarn made up of 3 plies of 60/40 merino/silk. The high percentage of mulberry silk in this yarn gives it a wonderful sheen and depth of colour, as well as a beautiful drape, while the merino gives memory to the fabric.
If substituting yarns, choose laceweight to light fingering weight yarns with different textures and subtly different colours that give you a fabric you like. You will need approximately 1065 yds/974m of each yarn, or a combined total of 2130 yds/1948m if you wish to use several different yarns.
The colourways I used for the sample—Cove and Fjord—are close enough to blend when worked together, yet different enough that the sections worked in one yarn contrast with sections in the other yarn, as well as the sections where both are worked together. The fineness of the laceweight helps to give a more blended than marled appearance in those sections.
Even within the laceweight category, different yarns may work better for you at different gauges, so the pattern has instructions for adjusting the length, and I’ll be updating it later today to add instructions for adjusting the stitch count so you have more freedom to play around with gauge.
I dug into the stash and swatched the same stitch pattern in the Lunar in Fjord from the sample, mixed with some Pebble in Graphite left over from Tempered.
I love the soft, fuzzy tweediness of Pebble here, and the way it makes the fabric look more rustic and casual. The greater textural contrast gives a more marled look to the blended sections, too. Pebble is a tiny bit thicker than Cima, so you may want to play around a bit with the gauge to get a fabric you like.
Cima and Silk Cloud give a really different look, especially with more contrasty colours like Tar and Suit:
I love the airiness of Silk Cloud and feel like it could use some more room to move here, so you could probably go up a needle size or two and still get a very nice fabric. If your other yarn has much less halo, as Cima does, do keep an eye on those sections when you’re swatching: while Silk Cloud works at a huge range of gauges, more contained yarns can get a bit floppy and limp when worked on larger needles.
But what about hand dyed yarns, you ask? And variegated yarns? Could those work? Why, yes! Yes, they could. My inclination would be to go with more subtle variegation, but that’s my own bias, and it shows in my stash. This swatch, worked in Malabrigo Yarn’s Lace (Pearl Ten) and Silkpaca (Zarzamora) looks rather delicious with its flickering colour and matte/shiny contrast, and gave a beautiful fabric at the pattern’s gauge using the same needles.
With hand-dyed yarns you do run the risk of visible differences between skeins, especially in a project of this size where you use multiple skeins of each colour. If you don’t want to add alternating skeins on top of the fauxtarsia (and honestly, that sounds like a lot of no fun to me), you can either change skeins during a transition between stripes to make any difference look more deliberate, or you can use this as an opportunity to play around with multiple colours or gradients. Indeed, you could do that anyway; a colourblocked Fauxtarsia Wave would look so striking, don’t you think?
For so many of us, half the fun of knitting our own projects is playing around with yarn and colour to make each piece uniquely our own—I love all the different things knitters do with my patterns; the gorgeous colours and combinations that I never would have thought of are a delight to see. So go forth and play, because ultimately, you are the boss of your knitting.
The Fauxtarsia Wave pattern is available on Ravelry; the update with tips for adjusting your stitch count will be posted later today; if the pattern’s in your Ravelry library, you’ll get a notice as soon as the new version is uploaded.